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Massimo Bignardi/ Marks of reality

The painting experience that Mary Cinque has been conducting in the last years does not evade the impact with reality. This appears both from the recent small pieces on paper of this exhibition, which derive from a year of determinedly autonomous work. In the mentioned canvases the figure seems to be part – if not cause – of a sort of choc that – as Perniola would say – confers emphasis “to the idea of partecipation, involvement, compromission” of art, professing a propensity to question the optimism of appareances and to raise the action of painting to the dignity of tool of formal analysis. In those pieces of work Mary Cinque took a step forward with respect to her previous production, that carried a pop matrix, but devoid enough of sociological implications and deriving solely from iconographical suggestions. As regards that phase, my mind goes to the paintings that the Wannabee Gallery of Milan exposed on 2007, or to the others that formed her personal exhibition “Display”, that took place in “Da a” concept store in Naples in 2008, where the visitor eye was guided by “objects of everyday fondness”. That was an experience that followed a nowadays very fashionable stream in which the identity that the figurative data reflect is provisional, isolated, precarious.

Something different happens in this sheets, to which the young artist gave the title of acque chiare (clear waters), maybe to underline the value of transitoriness which is peculiar of running water and – in the same while – with a meaning of clarification ( a less superficial vision) of the processes that can make the experience of reality more authentic. However, the time consuming technique used, the idea of private journal and – above all – Mary’s decision to come back to the same shot and re-write it in different tones open a new remarkable vent to her painting.

First of all it is to be noted the dimension of the support on which Mary’s hand operates: small sheets of cardboard that, having almost the same size of a postcard, give the idea of souvenirs and evoke imaginary mail exchanges; in practice they form a special channel through which being in touch with memory. Then the support and tha technique used. As regards the former, Mary’s choice was a rough cardboard able by nature to offer some materiality; an irregular surface that is creasy and porous in the same while, facilitating tha thickening of her fluid touch of the brush in spots and in irregular backgrounds rich of both blurs and frayed water halos. In other words, a surface that makes easy the appearing of folds, just like a living skin yields to the passing time and its inexorable effects. The technique here adopted by Mary Cinque is watercolour: the simplest but also the most mental one. Initially the artist used the industrial tablets for fine arts; then the thirst for a more personal colour induced her to elaborate it from the basic dyes, following an alchemy that – fortunately – is still part of art praxis. The painting technique is mental – as I said before – in that it renounces a priori to any saturation and proceeds through passages of minimal tonal change at the expenses of the maximum brightness, represented by the white of the sheet. It is like proceeding by substractions of light, leaving to the edges of coloured areas the tasks of organizing the spatial architecture and of revealing human preferences by showing the essence of alla forms in the scene. Mary Cinque subverts the process: she lets the white assume the role of cast of an opaque body which selects and reduces the transit of light while to the colour she assigns the same role that Man ray – in his shots – assigned to the light. Behind the insisted use of monochrome “blu” I do not see neither a symbolist reason nor literary preferences as the narrative approach is distant from the forma mentis of Mary Cinque. On the contrary I would ascribe it to its instinctive ability to become instinctive matter, existential identity or original chiper of her special eye upon the world.

For Mary, who lives in Agerola (in the highest part of the Amalfi Coast territory), that blue is also a reflex of the large expanse of sea and sky – often blended in a single hemisphere – wraps the wide landscape offered by that place. That “blue” is like a substance that interlace every form as well as all the gestures animating the local every day life and setting the pace of it. It is that blue – with its chromatic declinations – that also interlace with the plastic play of leaves and crosscut the lines of buildings, the figures and the relations. In sum, a celestial sphere witnessing a triumphing beauty that glides in a continous, infinite (and also abyssal) toward mirror games with the sea.

After these observations, a risk to avoid is to interpret these sheets as nostalgic “landascapism”, a kind of painting that faces the indisputed beauty of the Amalfi Coast since many decades ago by now.

The artist drives her attention to the family native land, to the practices tht educated her to look at reality as an active copresence in our daily actions: a reality of the visible world that becomes also touchable where figures, architectures and natural features are opaque bodies that, thanks to light – leave their casts on our memory as well as on the duration that insinuate into the conscience.

For Mary light is not only an element of the visual process. On the contrary it is also an expressive datum to confront with. Such position was already clear in the above mentioned exhibition in Naples and – with greater interest in the value of signs – in the small atypical, urban landscapes recently proposed in the exhibition “La défense”.

Light is a blue substance; an elastic, liquid one that sometimes accept to be used for a cursive gesture. Other times it contents to be thickened in spots of saturated brightness. The colour is that of the sky, a “substance” that allows the bodies populating our perception of reality to leave their casts and to witness their presence.