17 June – 17 July 2017
Galleria Cavour – Piazza Camillo Benso Count of Cavour – Padua.
Who is Dominique Stella?
Dominique Stella is an art historian specializing in contemporary art. She was director of the Palazzo Reale museum in Milan for contemporary art (1993-1998) and also participates, since its inception in 1987, in the activity of the Mudima Foundation (International Foundation for Contemporary Art) in Milan. With the patronage of the Mudima Foundation, he has worked on all the exhibitions dedicated to artists belonging to the New Realism and Fluxus movements. Co-producer of the Arman exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2001, curator of the exhibitions of Daniel Spoerri (From A to Z), producer of the exhibition César La suite Milanaise (1998), curator of the exhibitions of François-Marie Banier, Julien Friedler, Kuma, Gianni Bertini, Gérard Garouste, Robert Combas…
She has collaborated with various museums throughout Europe, and is today also the artistic director of the Agnellini Arte Moderna Gallery, which has been representing Jacques Villeglé since 2006.
His criticism of the work of Bra
Bra, a painting that goes beyond reality
Bra belongs to the artistic current called hyperrealism, which comes from photorealism. This school of painting was born in the late 60s and early 70s with the aim of opposing abstract expressionism and minimalism . On the edge of Pop art , some artists reproduce photographs with unique precision. However, photorealists are not limited to the reproduction of photographs, but are inspired by them to produce unique images, creating paintings or sculptures that go beyond reality, emphasizing details that would be impossible to see with the naked eye, imitating perfectly and sometimes even surpassing , reality. Bra's works are defined in this aspiration to overcome the visible by sublimating it. The animal themes, portraits and scenes are painstakingly detailed to suggest the illusion of a reality not accessible to immediate vision, creating a convincing representation of a simulated reality.
This shocking pictorial technique draws its roots from the philosophy of Jean Baudrillard, " the simulation of something that never really existed ". As such, hyperrealists create a false reality, a convincing illusion based on a simulation of reality, an enrichment of reality (an augmented reality). It is a more than perfect copy, as Jean Baudrillard writes: “ It is no longer a question of imitation, nor of doubling. It is a substitution of the signs of the real for the real, that is to say an operation of dissuasion with respect to every real process through its double operator (…) which offers all the signs of the real, short-circuiting all its energies. ”
Bra has perfect mastery of the drawing technique and the faithful representation of the model. Its ability to perform is therefore not satisfied with an exact transfer of objective reality; his art tends to extract from this reality a transformed image through the search for an ideal of beauty. Sublimated beauty of the woman whose body, face, gaze he paints in a thousand versions, as if trying to extract some secret code from this acute attention. Within this meticulous approach, the artist attempts to capture, or rather to simulate, something elusive that derives from an unconscious vision, from a deep aspiration towards an ideal world. To do this, Bra composes paintings in which using exact pictorial details, emphasizing their theme, thus creating a visual composition of a realistic and dreamlike nature at the same time. Although hyper-realistic, his works are neither cold nor surgical, but on the contrary show great sensitivity and are a very concrete and precise condensation of a reality that touches us, which allows everyone to understand reality with emotion. The exactness of the stroke, always induced by the precision of the drawing, merges into a work of dense pictorial material which gives the paintings a touch of mystery and builds a perfect and, at the same time, blurred figure.
From the infinitely precise drawings that the artist draws on the canvas, in certain poses of female figures, a sweetness, an introspection seem to be born reflected in a face with closed eyes, a sensuality barely revealed by the light, like a woman in the bathroom, in a painting entitled Beloved in the light , an infinite number of variants of expressions, bodies, faces of an almost perfect and always suggestive femininity. At the center of these paintings, the woman, ephemeral and eternal, reveals her nudity, in a sensual and pure homage to the beauty that leads each model back to the original Eve. And always the light, contrasted or shrouded in fog, dematerialises the scene and transforms it into a dreamed reality. In these images we discover that desire is inseparable from attraction, but also from regrets sometimes arising from blue water or even from a diaphanous background whose matter is none other than that of time that brushes against beings. The work of cancellation is a particular sign of Bra's works. The artist deconstructs the almost perfect shapes of the women he draws, under the brushstroke material of the colors that impose themselves and reduce these faces and bodies traced in black and white to a shadow. The silhouettes, even if well defined, become uncertain, evanescent, even more unreal and inaccessible.
Another theme that the artist develops according to the characteristics of the same poetic realism is that of animals, which he loves to paint in all their wild and disturbing force. Starting in prehistoric times, there is a long list of artists who have attempted to capture the natural beauty of animals. However, this tendency is rare in today's art and Bra's animalier paintings are even more evident. These paintings reproduce exactly the powerful forms, the disturbing or enigmatic looks of the wolf or the owl, the bear or the lion or the elephant, the strongest of all, to which his style gives vitality and grandeur, even in the absolute reality of the living beast. The wild realism of these animals emerges from a pictorial material that would like to keep them in the limbo of a universe that escapes us. However, they impose themselves for their rebellious and sometimes terrifying presence. Bra's art still resides here in her intense capacity for suggestion that transcends sensitive observation in a representation inhabited by the animal soul. The union of man with nature is affirmed in the sacralization of the animal of ancient times, and perhaps expresses the regret of a vital link that humanity would have lost.
Bra's painting, beyond the precise representation of the models, also includes a part of spontaneous creation freed from the rapid gesture of the artist who paints an almost transparent pictorial veil on the canvas. The figure moves away, we imagine the movement of the arm, of the hand of the painter who wants to be a liberator, almost a destroyer, leaving the imprint of an impetuous energy on the painting. This particular sign gives the work its own characteristic, like a signature. Thus we understand that the path of the artist, from the graphics from which he comes to painting, has generated successive phases of overcoming himself, to reach the meanderings of an unconscious knowledge hidden in the depths of his being which would transform reality into a specific dream image.