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Who By Fire
Elena Ricci

Viasaterna is pleased to present the first solo show by Elena Ricci (Rome, 1973), Who by fire, with a selection of works made with different painting techniques and in distinct moments, with a focus on the origin of the photographic fragment.

Who by fire is the title of a song by Leonard Cohen, inspired by an ancient Jewish liturgical poem that, like the homonymous painting in the exhibition, “it narrates the precariousness of the human condition with respect to the violence of a blazing fire that explodes in the landscape making nature no longer physiological and organic, but a metaphysical cosmology ", as suggested by Fabio Carnaghi in his critical essay. Ricci begins her work with this human investigation, collecting photographs of war archives or found by chance from unknown authors of the first half of the 20th century.  Their subjects are de-contextualized and offered through painting as archetypes and symbols that draw on the sphere of myth, solitary figures of shamans, soldiers, living beings in a constant sway between the real and the magical world.

The only clue of the relationship with photography can be found in the inks that trace the latent image of the negative, maintaining their bi-chromatic character. The interest in the figure is revealed with the oil technique and it is often in relation with an indefinite and liquid background, inhabited by horizons of bright colours. A further step towards abstraction is accomplished with pastels in which the subjects also tend to disappear and where the landscapes are just subtended, suspended and enclosed in the shape of a circle that becomes a lens on a new imaginary. The technique of dry pastel appeared in the first half of the 1500s and was mainly dedicated to portrait, however the artist avoids rigid determination of details and engages the medium into a play with the index of its nuances.

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