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Mary Cinque/ Out of Africa

My friend Enrica Picarelli, founder of Afrosartorialism (which, as stated in the site is: “A research project on fashion and streetstyle sartorialism from Africa” As “The African creative industry is booming with fashion and design at the forefront of epochal changes, yet this hardly makes headlines.”) she asked me to make a painting inspired by my experience in Africa. So I began to look for a point where my cities and African clothing could meet. As it often happens during the night, while I was thinking about my old and new artworks, I realized that I should draw my Ethiopian memories and “clothe” them with African fashion current fabrics.

Enrica shared with me a lot of information about fashion, meanwhile I was wandering in my dad’s slides archive, trying to come across the right image. I found it in a glimpse of a street in Addis Ababa that I reduced to an encounter made by lines and bright colors and the raw canvas ogling here and there.

What began almost as an experiment has proved to be seminal and, since then, my urban portraits are becoming more and more a juxtaposition of shapes and colors with untouched portions of rough, warm canvas.

Later, invited to participate in the annual exhibition at the Marche Art Center section curated by Maria Letizia Paiato, I took inspiration from a picture taken by my father in Africa, this time it was a building in the university campus where he taught.

This painting brings in a new light a souvenir, something that I saw and remember, but also something transfigurated by the time, when, usually at dinner table, we share memories about our stay in Ethiopia or my parents told me some episodes that I was too little to fix in my mind.

I’m also interested in investigating the relationship between photographic and pictorial image, two means that, in my practice, have always met and helped each other. Since my whole family is into photography my practice is also a study on how different generations approach this way of see at and recording reality.

In recent months I’ve been doing a systematic search in my dad’s African archive and I plan to return soon in Addis aiming to weave a pictorial picture story, between the past of our family, lived in Ethiopia in the ’80s -‘ 90 of the ‘900, and the post-colonial relationship between Countries such as Italy and Ethiopia, which, like all post-colonial history has its complexities and its peculiarities.

This research fits in my poetry centered around urban architecture that is very much affected by a certain architecture, between brutalism and fascist style, that has always fascinated me because of the imprinting that I’ve had back in Ethiopia.

It was in 2011 that, for the group exhibition curated by Pasquale Ruocco “New routes of the contemporary” at the Arsenals of Amalfi, I made an installation work. It was the first time I took inspiration from my father’s african images and I realized paintings from those pictures, and more canvases depicting the city I doscovered by myself, years ago: New York, the city where my grandfather grew up.

There was a sort of nostalgia already in those artworks, nostalgia towards something that I have experienced but also towards something that I didn’t go through (my grandfather died before I was born and it is only through the stories my relatieves told me about him that I got to know him and feel him very close and similar to me. This type of bond is very poignant because, knowing so little first-hand, you feel like a lot is missing, but, at the same time, you got the chance to imagine much more!)