"INTERIORS" Mysterious Bathrooms

"It might be that the immobility of the objects surrounding us is imposed by our certainty that it is so and - in much the same way - by the immobility of our thoughts before them."
Marcel Proust

A sensibility close to the spirit of this reflection from the "R écherche" is the distinctive mark of Alina Picazio's interiors, seeking " a rebours" into the deepest and most recondite reaches of our interior dwelling places.
Such a journey cannot be made in company; indeed, it must be undertaken with the determination to face silence and solitude - inevitable elements in the often oddly melancholy atmosphere haunting these majolicalined sanctuaries of domestic peace. The "Interiors" on display are in general common apartment bathrooms, which I have dubbed "Mysterious Bathrooms" because the almost obsessive predilection Alina shows for these rooms gives the variegated world of the bathroom a vaguely neometaphysical air.
The most immediate reference is to Bonnard's "toilette" scenes and, in particular, the great "Nu dans le bain" or "Nu a la baignoire" of 1939, now conserved in the Petit Palais in Paris.
On this work, rightly considered one of the artist's most innovative paintings with its highly original, quasi-photographic aerial perspective and the inebriating effect of wonderfully free chromatic drift as colours transmute atmospherically in the motessuspended in a bathroom. Jean Clair had this to say ".Car se n'est pas seulement la perspective qui se fait ici étrangere. Il en est de meme du médium" l'huile prend des légéretés d'aquarelle. tout se passe comme si les modestes carreaux de faience de certe salle de bain étaient devenus, par la magie de la palette, les tesseres d'un mosaique, don't l'effet de réfraction confond ce qui est lumiere et ce qui est couleur" (in the "Bonnard" exhibition catalogue, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1984).
Alina's "Bathrooms" are trances of ambience rarefaction, empty rooms devoid of the presences that gave life to Bonnard's interiors: all is essential, creating a new space-time vision filtered with the sensibility and eye of a young artist now finding her own way in the world just three years before the year two thousand.
However, it is precisely the transfiguration of "modeste carreaux de faience" into mosaic like tessererae that creates a complex movement of shifting gleams and glints. These transfiguration is achieved with the same oil colours and canvases used by Bonnard, in a nuber of cases bringing the respective spheres of action into closer contact. The visionary rigour of monochromatic effects pervading majolica work and tiles in "Blue Bathroom", "Red Bathroom" and "Green Bathroom" might, as the titles themselves also suggest, be taken as painterly revisitations of the recent work of the celebrated Polish director Krzysztof Kie¶lowski, "Blue Film", "White Film", "Red Film".
The type of bathrooms recurrent in Alina's paintings oddly reflects her own development from a "borderline" condition, half way between north and south, with a life ever divided between Warsaw, Rome and Naples. The bathtub is usually of the old-fashioned type, a flared form resting on cast-iron paws as can still be seen in the oman houses of the 20's and 30's that have escapes refurbishment, while the slender, "telephone" type shower attachment held to the wall with butterfly brackets recalls with its sheer simplicity of structure the fittings common in the central-northern Europe, and the impact, especially for those unfamiliar with such fittings of something eloquently naive, willfully antitechnological and anti-progress.
In same cases the "carreaux" effect is complicated and enriched with rich and oddly impressive effects of embossment in the paint, somewhat like the semiscultural effects in gold leaf defining crowns, rails and relief in the drapes f saints in the late 14 th century polyptychs.
Odd indeed is the isolated lavatory pan, perspective flattened two dimensionally, a mouth opening impertinently before the observer's eyes, revealing a bent for self-irony surprising in such a young artist.
The stove looming dark and massive in a unlit, cave-like interior, glass of opaque splendour winking from within it, marks the emotional climax of the exhibition, and a new line in the artist's most recent work.
Apart from exploring the "Bathroom" theme she has recently turned to large-scale compositions: steps, doors and windows in buildings and rooms she has happened upon and which her own psychological and pictorial sense has progressively worked on together with the filter of memory, freeing them of weight and opening them out with a happy play of space.
The "colour-colour" exuding from these canvases serves in itself to excluding from these canvases serves in itself to define the space and rhythm within the individual composition, and here I feel Alina is alien to European movement of Transavanguardia, although some justification for associating her with might be seen in the use of colour and paint, conceived in terms of the most perfectly traditional of approaches.
Alina is much younger, and truly POST-DATES the movement. She shows the courage, coherence and - above all - the freedom of the young.
What most attracts me in the delicate but distinct way the artist moves between reference points conventionally and perhaps overhastily - considered obsolete or at any rate academic. Indeed, the current tendency to dictate with a fair dose of arrogance the only possible lines and options for the coming millennium may deservedly be labeled "regime" should it persist. On the other hand we have Bonnard, Proust, Bergson Matisse - in particular the essential qualities displayed with the french windows in pre-1920 Matisse - and again the Slavonic splendours of certain works of the "Blaueeiter" artists and, in "Mysterious Bathrooms", the glitter of Bizantine mosaic tesserae.
Tempering all her work is the vision acquired through rigorous research on space and interiors dating back to the days of the Warsaw academy. I feel that Alina has never abandoned this research, evident in the severe organization of orthogonal structures in wardrobes and windows.
"The disquiet of young people like Alina lies precisely here, in the desperate urge to rediscover the use of their entire, organic psychic identity".
Thus Ennio Calabria ina a recent introduction to the work of Alina Picazio summed up in a few succinct words the malaise of the more recent generations of artists.
This malaise is, I believe, shared largely by those who have chosen art as a way of life and striven to put the ideal into practice - a choice I like to see as invariably deriving from a romantic impulse, irrational and irresistible, much like a deep religious vocation. Any means would be justified for such noble ends.
Again, we can only hope that the legitimate aspiration of the young to "rediscover the use of their entire, organic psychic identity" will be understood and above all respect by all of those who, despite proclamations that "the death of art" has indeed come about, continue to look to it as a precious, irreplaceable component of the spiritual life of the individual.

Marcella Cossu