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by Guglielmo Gigliotti

Painting is an instrument that humanity uses to reflect on the nature of reality and its appearances. It is a visual art that is not only based on what the viewer sees from the outside, but also forces him/her to carefully observe the whole structure. The viewer, therefore, does not remain passive but becomes an active participant that contributes to the piece as a whole.

When Maria Pina Bentivenga paints or etches, she does not do it to simply reproduce images that she has seen but to develop, step by step, her long and meticulous studies on the nature of marks and line. These are the elements that she uses as the basis for her work and with them is able to create images that can stand on their own.

The trip into the painting becomes one with the trip inside and around reality, and that inside yourself. It is within this triple trip, therefore, that Bentivenga, like many others, begins her exploration from a recognizable reality. She then takes this so calledfigurative image and with what seems one fluid and continuous movement develops it until finally arriving at the abstract.

Maria Pina Bentivenga’s landscapes are soft and highlight the unitary nature of her process of exploration of signs and their intimate coherence, urgency and sincerity.

The first canvases in this exhibition are landscapes, but in reality they are andscapes of lines and marks, labyrinths of brushstrokes, spider webs of outlines, all pretexts for the unraveling of stringy forms, tones, and colors, a self-sufficient organism, through a pictorial reflection. It is already evident that the only reality that is analyzed is that which deals with the painting itself, which does not need other supports or justifications in order to manifest its own integrity and autonomy, its own splendor. It is a reality to dive into.

This is exactly what Bentivenga does in her paintings, often in small format, in which the liberation from figurative brings, through a particular sensibility for certain marks and outlines, the memory of the preceding, figurative steps. Her paintings, however, are liberated from all extra-pictorial references. It is exactly through memory that such a passage is based on, a memory of things seen and lived that are transformed through paint into colors and marks which mix to become a whole. Painting is itself a way to remember, to metabolize experiences rooted in a deeper consciousness.

Maria Pina Bentivenga, identifies a subject of inspiration, photographs it, but then decides to forget it, thus allowing herself to remember it later only through the paint itself. Paint can play funny tricks. Painting goes deep within, it scratches away at visible surfaces and brings us closer, with a somersault that has been called poetry, to the subject’s secret underlying structure.

Bentivenga, or her memory, which are after all the same thing, seem to physically demonstrate this approach, as if carefully studying fragments of the original subject under a magnifying glass in order to identify and highlight their essential structure. A process that can be compared to creating an image that is out of focus in a way that it is not simply blurry but in which a new image emerges, revealing its own texture, a new and different weave. All previously existent but hidden deep within. The integrity of the line and its structure not only remains clear and legible, but actually becomes emphasized through this simple process of discovery.

This is how the channels, passages and segments, knots and grooves, the broken and often layered lines, of the last season, are born. A maze of outlines, agitated and rhythmic at the same time, slowly brings the story, now composed of marks and lines, to the surface. Reality is no longer identifiable, it is unknown and yet visible, it is immensely big and infinitely small.

Entering into things often means viewing them from the outside to obtain a birds-eye view. The separation between inside and outside becomes purely intuitive-and fortunately “paintable”- and all connections between measurement and dimension are broken allowing the essences to mix and play a game of hide and seek with appearances.

There is nothing visionary in all of this, nor is there a propensity towards the fantastic. These are words used to remove from normality the simple gesture of “looking more closely.” There is, instead, the opportunity to confront without fear, the natural complexity (not difficulty!) of the world as we see it, as we paint it.