Ida Barbarigo 'Unity in Depth'
25 April – 30 June 2013
Ida Barbarigo was born in Venice in 1920 as the daughter of an artistic and accomplished Venetian family. She gave up studying architecture in order to study painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice. Her work has been influenced by many early Renaissance painters, including Giotto and Cimabue, and by the art of early civilizations. Her restlessness and curiosity led her to travel, and in 1952 she moved to Paris. Drawing acquired great importance for her during the first years of her activity, and she gradually formed a personal way of seeing, her own way of creating, developed especially in the fields of painting and engraving. After an early figurative period she formed a personal style with work that tends towards abstraction.
Barbarigo’s paintings in the late 1950s and early 1960s are particularly modern because of her avant-garde ability to paint the unseen, the void. Her work is a logbook, consisting of a number of series, which seek not to evoke but to invoke the silent spirit of the present.
Her first theme were the chairs in the squares of Venice and Paris, in the series Le seggiole (Chairs). She worked on this subject repeatedly, from 1961 to 1976, in a series of oils and small watercolours in which the chair is treated as a structural, compositional element. 'Something you are accustomed to seeing every day, which all of a sudden appears eternal, inexpressible. A continuous alteration of refracting forms, the chairs and their shadows appear closed off from the space that accentuates their forms but leaves them in negative.' She explored the world around her and examined the unexpected compositions of chairs in the public squares of Venice and Paris and painted the abstract energy between these objects.
Barbarigo spent her time wandering and roaming around en plein air, increasingly experiencing sudden revelations. During her wanderings ‘Passeggiate/Walks’ in the city, she observes and paints the ‘real life’. Her paintings are the outcome of a series of jottings taken from life, notes of the places and scenes which captivate her most, such as cafés, terraces and squares. The titles of her paintings are often snatches of conversation overheard by chance, words uttered by some of the occasional occupants of the chairs. These paintings show evidence of her profound familiarity with the psychological understanding of the human being, expressing the feeling of impressions conveyed with a realism that reveals a new aspect of the city.
Very recently, at the age of 90, Ida Barbarigo has started painting again. These works which she entitles as 'L’Unità nel Profondo' express the energy of nature in its depth. It’s a cluster of strokes and smears and dripping lines arranged in space, the space of the picture. 'I am fascinated by the strange way that a line can break away from the landscape. That point of rupture between a visible thing and something you cannot see. And it is the air that passes through it.'
As early as Fontana, Ryman and Gutai artists, Ida Barbarigo’s work sought to capture the invisible architecture of emptiness.
On the occasion of the exhibition we have published the monograph Ida Barbarigo. This publication is the first survey of Barbarigo’s work from 1959 ‘till 1964, supplemented with her most recent work. The book contains a moving essay by Giovanna Dal Bon in which she introduces the reader to Barbarigo’s work in a poetic way. It also brings together many unpublished historic photographs that were discovered in the archives of Ida Barbarigo and her belated husband Zoran Music.
The catalogue will be available at the gallery.