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Museo d’Arte Mendrisio Opens Simonetta Martini. Whither are You Taking My Art

The Museo d’Arte Mendrisio Present “Simonetta Martini: Whither are You Taking My Art?” on view 29 October 2011- 15 January 2012.

The Ticino-born artist Simonetta Martini studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich and at the École Supérieure d’Art Visuel in Geneva. After finishing her studies, she travelled widely, spending time in El Salvador, Madagascar and India, and these experiences influenced her profoundly. On three different occasions she won a Federal Scholarship for the Visual Arts, and from 1988 to 1989 she stayed at the Swiss Institute in Rome, where she found herself immersed in the vast artistic heritage of the city, attracted by Roman and then Byzantine and Renaissance art. She returned to Ticino in 1990. Right from the start, in around 1985, her painting formed part of the movement to rediscover figurative art which started in the late 1970s, and she has continued to work in this direction without making a break from it. Simonetta Martini also views painting as a revisitation of the art of the past, overcoming the barriers of time, and she even includes direct quotations from the works of great masters such as Giotto, Fra Angelico, Michelangelo, Vermeer, Lega, and Picasso.

At the heart of the image is the human figure, creating a mysterious interaction of profound harmony with nature and with the animal kingdom. Human presences have gradually been disappearing, making way for a sweeping, romantic vision of the landscape. Without indulging in symbolism or metaphysics, these images always maintain a sense of mystery and enigma. With their humble yet precious materials, Simonetta Martini’s paintings appear as carpets or frescoes, and her powdery, chalky colours confer a soft luminosity upon her scenes.

The originality of Simonetta Martini’s painting, which is inspired by a powerful inner tension, is well reflected in the thoughts expressed by Erri de Luca: “Those who approach her work believing it to be meek and docile will get burnt, and those who misunderstand it as a state of tranquillity will find the furious swarming of bees in their ears. Simonetta Martini is absolute incandescence.” (Erri de Luca, in Rosso, 2001).

In the exhibition at the Museo d’Arte Mendrisio, the artist is showing an overview of her work of the past twenty years, with about twenty large-format works together with a series of drawings and ceramics (made in collaboration with Giusi Arndt). This is her first retrospective exhibition in a museum. The catalogue, which is part of a series of books devoted to contemporary art in Ticino, contains critical and literary essays by Erri de Luca, Sylviane Dupuis, Maria Sole Martini Giovannoli, Simone Soldini, and Maria Will, and is illustrated with 54 colour plates.

Image: Simonetta Martini, “Il taglio dei capelli”, 1999

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