“Many of my works originate from the observation of horse’s nostrils, a detail I often tend to magnify on canvas. This very detail is an eye-catcher to me, and sometimes I feel like the whole picture originates and goes back there again – a sort of wide breath involving it all, from the mane’s movement to the muscles, up to the canvas’ edges and beyond them.
Horses and medieval knights have always been my favourite models: I’ve been attracted by them since childhood, a true addiction to images – no matter whether pictured, painted or sculptured.
I submerge into images, often inspired by music – my muse -, and wait.”
By focusing on images, the outer world and all of its engagements freeze and make room to a new dimension of thousands of glares on armours, of bright colours, of multicoloured trappings, of deep blacks and extra-long manes waving gently to hide sprinting eyes and muscles. Puffs, lights, dust, pouring of sweat and tension. All of this melts and mingles with the landscape in a whirlwind of breathings, pulses and surging to give birth to new mutable and free-flowing images.
Every time I go back to painting, horses and medieval knights are there, waiting for me. It is always a specific equine breed – Friesland horses – and a specific harnessing type – 14th century trappings.
I always wondered what could be the rationale for such profound interest and the reasons why it never faded over time. I haven’t find a reason yet.
I tried to consider each brush stroke as a direction, a path, a sign to follow in order to find a meaning to what “I felt I had to do”. This is where my decision to combine painting and the study of psychoanalysis, with a specific attention to micropsychoanalysis, originates from. The intention has a practical and strictly personal reason: I wanted to reconcile the time spent on these two different activities, which are both sources of pleasure and satisfaction to me.
Due to the experimental nature of the path I’m following I don’t know where it might lead me, but it allows me to continue searching and this is all that matters to me at the moment.
I never associated any philosophical concepts and ideas to my paintings because I never felt the urge to. Moreover, my knowledge in the field isn’t wide enough to do that. I always considered these kinds of analysis fit for art reviewers only.
I would like to be able to get insight on myself and the outer world through psychoanalysis and, at the same time, to focus on my painting and to think about my work with no presumptions to forcedly combine my paintings with concepts, nor to investigate any fields I do not have any authority to.
My aim is rather to get some “information” out of it all, and I hope I’ll get those by combining the two activities.
So, now, I paint.”
ULTERIOR TO THE MEMORY
In her rigorous and composed study of jousts, tournaments, horses and knights Paola Musso concedes nothing to epics and narrative, there is no yielding to the pure pleasure of the imagery with which she establishes, moreover, an inverse relationship in her iconographic negation, the temporary precariousness of a figural dispossession that becomes an impetuous pictorial gesture.
Colours, sweeping strokes, accents, intersecting planes come boldly forth, in the work by the artist from Pinerolo, in an abstract progression, in a further attempt also to capture – with a logical essentiality of vision – the strength, the dynamics of a situation that transcend the episodic and the narrative as an end in itself.
Horses, knights, tournaments express, in fact, an explosive movement, tensions and starts that collapse until nullifying the story they are supposed to be protagonists of. Spaces, bodies, the plastic rigour of the animals are soon caught up in a deforming vortex of disintegrating contours. Almost shadows that dematerialise, focalising a systematic process of obliteration that becomes painting.
So it is that the muscularity of the “Friesian” horse and his changing, faceless warrior tend to become an instrument for measuring the universal. Simultaneously youthful and ancient, they acquire an emblematic strength and reject negative nostalgia, they move in the world of emotion, they create a sheer perceptiveness that is however always highly controlled.
Musso engages in a contemporary post-figurative practice that gets lost on the way – almost as if a pretext, a renunciation of the literal nature of meaning – and which the artist uses to orchestrate her tension toward a possible postulate of the truth of painting. Images that draw from reality only a possibility of verification, correspondence, of pulsating emotionality in which the informal potentiality is the appeal of culture just as the figural expression is an objectifying motion. The artist wants, in short, to discover and bring to the surface a limbo of secret occasions and remote suggestions driven by an internal dynamism: permanent disquietude and a new chemistry of relations in the complex delta of perception.
Paola Musso uses colour discreetly, to accentuate the process of abstract identity and identification. By combining the graphic element – immersed in the dominant black with a few pale strokes of colour, restrained, austere – she enhances the effect of harsh, isolated figures, employing a resolution that is almost concealed behind the exaltation linked to the process of the permanent and of the changeable. A combination of refined and mysterious lights and space, bordering on informal irrationalism but always controlled in narrative sequences and in the inexhaustible store of images gravitating within the essential realm of figures, environments, stories and evocative metaphors.
Her expression aims not to be allusive, but rather narrative and illogical, dissociated and recomposed in a fantastic project, focused on adventures consumed through speed and details. The intensity of expressive suggestion, understood as a trace and imprint of a vision, and the gestural component offered as an emotional vibration rather than a resolution deriving from a consolidated formula represent, therefore, signs of the development of the artist from Pinerolo. Before arriving at this point, still susceptible to profound mutations, the painter’s imagery had acquired substance and depth in the analytical, and simultaneously liberating succession of knightly tournaments soon transformed into sequences of the narrative moment, where the anecdotal character of the subject immediately gave way to the stylisation of forms.
Nothing that regarded, in any case, a process seeking to imitate reality or a formula celebrating that “Friesian” horse which frequently appears in recent works, but rather a permanent attempt to capture the essential in a controlled metamorphosis. The thematic pretext is systematically disregarded as a convenient and safe anchorage to objective reality, becoming rather the vehicle of an irrational effect of suggestion experienced on the verge of the indefinite and at the limits of fleeting apparitions consumed over time in the narrated story.
The unravelling of these sequences, recurrent in their diversity, creates and lends solidity to the bases for a change in aesthetic approach, where bodies and images will become surrogates of a transition – which I deem inevitable – in the way this artist, who shows great potential, creates art, a transition that is still today rigorously reserved and anchored to her consolidated interior world.
It is certain that the new path is being in any case traced in the complete willingness to recover those deep anxieties that derive origin in the act of painting and in the redeeming of a material, whole, plastic fleshiness which subsists through alternating incumbent blacks, marked with unexpected lights, absent and icy blues, warm and amber hues. For Paola Musso it could be added that the time of the image burns itself, it excites something ulterior to itself, which soon becomes memory for experiencing the absolute permanence of signs and matter.
This foundation becomes dense with signs, tears, drips, chromatic shifts delving into the image itself until reaching a dynamic core consisting of transposed, fast, evasive figuration, virtually an island of the unconscious in which ordinary figures are by now absorbed for good. And so it is that the anxious and nervous gesture experiences its final station, robs the solids and voids of white, fusing it with the sombre predominance of blacks and their inevitable physicality.
They are forces of dense light that illuminate movement and situations, which forget the representation for painting. In this dark and compact matter one may perceive sudden gleams of a cut, still luminosity, perceptions of rancid, marshy hues, dense with vibrations, agitated in their implausibility. It is the same light, sometimes hidden and only implied, which lends things some meaning, which assails their identity, which extrapolates the original, vital figure: emotion of form which tends toward the recognisable while rejecting the iconographic associations.
This orderly disorder present in her works, this taking and recomposing without rules, this escape toward painting however defined is confirmed by Musso herself, who writes about her own work: – “The elements melt. Figures appear unexpectedly and seem not to remain on canvas for long. They move within the landscape, which is not a mere background but rather an integral part of that moment and which changes, adapting itself to tensions and moods. Everything is obscure and disturbing, never sufficiently clear, like in a dream or in the very reality that surrounds us”-.
And thus without realising the artist finds herself subscribing to the theorem of Bonito Oliva: – “Painting is the field of appearances and the artist has striven and strives to affirm the centrality of the fragment. A constellation of interior data stably resides in the domain of painting, introducing the discontinuous and eruptive force of the particular into the sphere of art”-.
Bologna 26 June 2004