Rome

Lucia Romualdi

Galleria Arco d’Alibert

In a rigorous, almost ascetic show, Lucia Romualdi presented three largescale paintings and two smaller ones that register the change her work has undergone over the last year. The themes of water and memory have been constants in her work for more than ten years. The subjects of this work are in fact based in personal experience, in the seascapes, rivers, and gardens she knew as a child. These memories surfaced spontaneously, reanimated by the artist’s imagination.

The recent work has been cleared of a “feminine” complaisance that was latent in Romualdi’s earlier paintings. She has abandoned the pastel tints, the traces of a symbolism that made reference to sexual archetypes, and the forms that alluded to a narrative too well rooted in the fragile world of childhood. In the past year she has achieved a freer, more mature pictorial style, based entirely on austere white and black. Even the technique is completely new. On jute cloth, Romualdi pastes beige-colored papers, which are then painted white. She then uses black oil pastels, either diluted or thickly applied with the hands, to cover the entire surface in successive layers. In the larger works, each titled Costrutta nell ’86 (Constructed in ’86, 1986) and numbered consecutively, the edges of the collaged papers—always three large sheets of equal size—do not meet, allowing the rough weave of the underlying cloth to show through. These subtle apertures give an almost internal light to the paintings. The images that take shape on the smoky surfaces seem to feel this glare, and to create shadows, or intermediary gray tones.

The basic forms are geometric—triangles and irregular parallelepipeds—with neatly cut borders, which suggest sails blown by the wind or waves in a sea storm. Agitated zones of acute angles and fugitive shadows alternate with broad, calm areas. The febrile unrest intimated by the grooves between the collaged papers is echoed in the rhythm of the structural field, where the luminous striations capture the eye, guiding it toward the more meditative spaces. However controlled by the severity of their geometry, the works’ execution in frottage allows for lively variations in the degree of light and spatial depth. Romualdi in fact does not work from a preconceived plan but realizes her work intuitively. Form takes shape autonomously, as the materialization of a flow of consciousness. Thus an unarrested movement, similar to that of the sea or the wind, governs the construction of the images.

From a formal standpoint, definitions of fullness and emptiness, light and dark, stasis and movement, coexist in this work. Subjective analysis and the invention of autonomous forms have finally placed her work in a firm equilibrium that resists the fall into complaisance. Romualdi’s artistic consciousness now resides in the articulated vision of a germinal and abstract geometry situated on the threshold of appearances. She has chosen a difficult road, but she seems to travel it with self-assurance.

Ida Panicelli