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Italian Painter Francesca Grimaldi’s Abstractions Harmonise Hues with Music

In Arts, News
February 26, 2024

As a child, she grew up listening to music and watched her father paint — he was also a pianist-violinist. Today, Francesca Amalia Grimaldi’s exhibition of paintings is on in the Indian capital, synthesising her sensibilities around colours and melodies.

Francesca’s debut show in the country features 32 of her latest works, graced largely by shades of blue. Even so, the February 23-27 ‘Metamorphosis is abundant in other hues as well: sunshine-yellow, greens and a whole range of mellow shades. All of them bear a spirit of resonance, according to author-scholar Uma Nair, who has curated the five-day event at LTC, Bikaner House, being hosted by Masha Art with its flagship store at Taj Mansingh.

Crucially, the series profiles a selection of the artist’s paintings from 2020 till this year. The period also unveils Francesca’s style that has altered of late owing to her stay in India for the past 18 months. “My works have stylistic leaps,” says Francesca. “These moments are in tune with my nature and personal history. My life’s experiences — be them professional, personal or artistic — have evolved through a set of sequences.”

While these standalone works define her latest tryst with time, the paintings at ‘Metamorphosis’ carry a second element. That is about the “precision of curves in a maze”, Francesca notes. “These two come in this new series.” Together, the segment ‘Mosaics within a Maze’ creates a “grand vista where form, concept, fragments and colour coexist like life and its many patterns of dreams between spaces”, says Uma.

The curator terms Francesca’s ‘Memory of Past’ as one of her finest in this series. “Here, her style has undergone a transformation, all the same. The artist abstracts the image of the fragments, so that she releases them from the fixed memory of her own travels,” notes Uma. Further, works such as ‘Black in the Sky’ and ‘Holy Triptic’ become the “serenades of the beauty of time and being”.

The works, in mixed media and as acrylic-on-canvas pastels, effectively contrast with a landscape Francesca did last year and figures at ‘Metamorphosis’. Titled ‘Goa Beach’, the painting portrays the sea “like a colourful, graded symphony”. It also carries “nostalgic melodies” for the artist, who was brought up in the green islands of Sardinia and Sicily islands of her European country. “Atmospherics comes to me naturally. After all, I did landscapes for so many years.”

Art historian Aman Nath, who inaugurated the show jointly with Italian Ambassador in India Vincenzo De Luca, says Francesca’s portrayal of the Goan landscape is an uncanny blend of two eras. “The upper portion of the work is steeped in the aesthetics of the 16th-century Renaissance masters. Contrastingly, the lower half absorbs features of contemporary art,” he notes. “Abstract paintings may look east to do; the fact is that they are really tough to master.”

Ambassador De Luca, while addressing the gathering at ‘Metamorphosis’, likened the show to a “journey from Italy to India” with a chorus of yellow, green and most strikingly blue.” “I found the little texts a perfect prelude to the artist’s works. I wish to say, Thank you from Italy.” Added Piyali Dasgupta, Programme Director of Bikaner House: “Francesca’s paintings bring in the best of both worlds.”

Besides Goa comes Ladakh in the artist’s works. Inspired by her travels in the Himalayan Mountains of northern India, Francesca noticed that the high mountains stood in sharp contrast to the plains of the country’s south.

Francesca, who is a trained geologist, developed a passion for art history and nature. This led her to do figurative works. Into the early 1990s, her course at Accademia Riaci in Florence helped Francesca refine and deepen her studies in perspective drawing, painting techniques and jewellery design. She prefers mixed-media techniques on canvas, using oils, acrylics, watercolours, soft pastels and oil pastels.

Metamorphosis is her 34th exhibition, starting from 1987. The show is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Masha is a prominent art Investment firm with a portfolio of over 5,000 curated artworks and sculptures representing modern as well as contemporary artists.