Critical texts

A return to the past

In the path of an artist it can sometimes happen that certain visual elements or techniques return cyclically in a concealed or overt way. Serena Rossi’s latest works show a return to the past, a recall to the artistic research of the early 2000s. Underlying her visual grammar has always been a continuous dialectic between sign and color, a tension between abstractionism and figuration, between indefinite stains, traces and fragments of paper, scraps of the world. Rossi, through painting, finds the ultimate exercise of thought, of her poetry, a gateway to the experience of art and the chaos of the senses. In the vision of small and large marks, more or less obvious, in the stains and brushstrokes, we recognize her practice of marking as the first instinctive action.

If in Chinese, Catty dog and A Night in the Langhe the tones and gestures remain abrupt and primitive, albeit relieved by full, rich backgrounds that allow the figurative and the mark to emerge; in Foxy, Shadow and We Back, textural overlay and collage create innumerable layers, dense and lumpy. The color, in these last works, emancipates on the trace until it extinguishes the image, erases what was done before through full-bodied and thick brushstrokes, material in their expressiveness. Her stylistic code proceeds by contaminations, ironic provocations and narrative suggestions whose meaning is left to the eye of the viewer.

To the typically exaggerated and concrete dialectic is enfranchised, in the last period, abstractionism, matter softens, loses harshness to become organic substance, and the same real, collage-like inserts from the artificial world are abandoned for a greater expressive naturalness.

Her recent canvases tell of imaginary landscapes, where plants, animals and flowers are the rich vocabulary from which she draws for her dreamlike and symbolic language. This new series of abstract paintings, closer to her poetic feeling, investigates the emotions and fragments of the self, an identity dispersed and to be resurfaced through archaic elements and mild forms.

The bright and vivid color is set aside, the emotional charge cools down to make room again for matter and poetry through delicate touches that recall bucolic landscapes and evoke natural atmospheres (Water Lilies, Happyness, Fringe, Composition). Acrylic colors take the place of spray cans and glitter and are kneaded and worked directly on the canvas to recall the sheen of oil painting. A regression to primary values, a return to the past, where representation is mostly a concept, an idea, a drive of the “Es” and the unconscious to tune back into the world of life.

It is not surprising, then, the presence of rupestrian, atavistic, almost mythical elements that do not admit system and organization but are expressed in synthesis and codified signs (I am, Monkey, Residue, Stand by). Rossi goes to the origins of form, to elementary sculptural structures with a powerful, stylized language and a strong symbolic charge because they tend to express the concept more than the real world.

Critical reading by Sonia Patrizia Catena, 2023



No need for fear   by Serena Rossi

By Claudio Zanini, Artist and Pohet

Theses and icastic verses with strong images, lightning oxymorons and anxious contradictions; so the attentive reader is offered the poetry of Serena Rossi. These verses are bewildering and striking, but they are marked by the tiresome but tenacious awareness that one can (must) make sense of reality.

The poet’s self lives (like all of us) a reality of which it suffers the inevitable stickiness, where impulses and aspirations collide with unexpected obstacles. And where every event – feeling, mood, desire -, as soon as perceived, presents at the same moment, unexpected, its negative and yet inseparable. If you want one it is inevitable to accept the other. Thus, in this poetic collection, “disconsolate joy”, happiness and pain, sweetness and harshness, tears and smiles coexist. Hence, “shadow and threshold”, sense of emptiness and warm fullness of existence. Yet, with regard to the other, at times of bitter opposition (intention of rejecting any compromise) there are outbursts of willingness to accept the help, in the reached awareness of the difficulty that the other always constitutes. If you accept this reality clearly, you can not be alone: therefore, not only “shadows and threshold”; but, if you are “soul and threshold” together, “you can live light and maybe sing”. Love “defeating the virus” is this. The will of the heart can be traced even in the smallest, daily events; in some short smile that illuminates a sad face; or in some detail that wonderfully illuminates a desolate landscape by lighting it with light.

This continuous oscillation between crude principle of reality and tenacious aspiration to a fullness of life, this hovering on an arduous ridge without falling on one side or the other, are well expressed not so much by a reasoned thought, as from the form of writing. As mentioned at the beginning, they are verses characterized by a rough style with a pressing rhythm, syncopated, dotted with unusual rhymes and alliterations that, often unscrewing, break the flow, hinder a pressing reading – induced by the short verse, if not very short (often of a single word) -, imposing a pause, an alienating moment that calls for reflection.

We often encounter assonances and rhymes like wrecks/crimes”, “unconscious/sciò”, “sole/nun”, “threshold/bolgia”, “hope/essence/existence/growth”, “etc. ; rhymes that cause a sudden and unexpected change of sense. The text is also punctuated by foreign words, “out of context”, warning signs or unexpected rebellion that have the function of warning the reader. Among other things, the verse with a single word amplifies its semantic significance.

It occurred to me that a loud reading of these “sound” verses, especially those composed of a single word, recited with multiple modulations of the tone, would greatly enhance the intensity and understanding of the meaning.

Serena Rossi is also a painter, so in her poetry many colors are evoked: the vermilion red of blood, rage green, pale blue, purple, indigo blue of a dark sea and yellow/yellow hope; a chromatism that evokes with immediacy images of flashing moods and then immediately be contradicted and vanish (momentarily) in that anguished sense of emptiness that, as has already been noted, shines through in many compositions. However, there is no withdrawal and renunciation, we do not allow ourselves to be overcome by moments of discouragement, since “the weeping of a child or an angry dog is enough to remind you how beautiful all this is”, since the exhortation addressed not only to itself remains dominant, but to others, to all of us: “Come out breathe love”.

Claudio Zanini, June 2022

Feel the reality. A journey through color, clippings and words

Critical reading by Sonia Patrizia Catena

Serena Rossi’s early works are characterized by informal castings, interior and dreamlike landscapes with light and fairytale lyricism. His pictorial work in New light rose and Urban slowness emerges on the surface and the monochrome color flows vehemently and uncontainable until the flows and forms vibrate which, in the chaos, reveal the vital momentum and the performative motion of the artist. An emotional charge to be elaborated with the material and the color that becomes the grammar with which Rossi constructs his personal overlapping of visual sensations, opening up, however, to different interpretations and expressive methods.

A free and gestural painting that activates those unconscious memories and images dormant in each of us, where sensitivity becomes essential.

In the work Hill of 2014, the full-field color is reduced to spray marks and drippings, here the gestures become more harsh and regressive until, over the years, it approaches a principle of figuration thanks to the introduction of paper cuttings aimed at to simulate decorative patterns or to interpret the world and the surrounding reality (Rose, 2016). The collage technique allows the Milanese artist to recreate fragmented imaginaries that adjust by contrast and break in the abstraction of the sign made with spray paints and acrylics. The artist’s instinct chooses the images or subjects to cut out, takes what he wants from reality and, at a later time, connects them trying to make different elements coexist in the same space. In the works Joke and Children, reality is no longer a dream, but begins to fragment and alter, each piece selected and estranged from its context rises to something else thanks to a combinatorial randomness. There is a return to form, to those visual holds that become the principle for renewed imaginative movements and challenge the gaze so that it can go further. The inhomogeneous structure of space is therefore replaced by the typically abstract dialectic of the first period through the use of papers, traces and drawings that determine the internal equilibrium, ready for all possible transformations and exaggerations.

In Where are you from 2021, the real world appears with all its strength and becomes the protagonist of his photographic shots. Serena Rossi’s works are stripped of the material and welcome words and short messages to become “pictopoetry” where the image and the word coexist and are enhanced to reveal what surrounds us. The photograph edited in post-production holds a place for short lines, the image loses its vital and energetic charge to leave room for the melancholy of poetry.

Sonia Patrizia Catena Milan 2021

“It takes heart”, he recommends from the name-day cartouche of one of his recent mixed media, from 2018, Serena Rossi.
It takes heart, for “crazy”, sick and restless, that it can to be, like saying that what matters to Serena, that she is a figurative artist and a poet at the same time, she is not so much doing, understood as expressing and representing, but the investment emotional, sentimental. It is necessary that the work, that is poetic writing or graphic and pictorial gesture, both sustained from a deep, essential need, from getting involved with their real needs; those that, starting from the heart, they make the hand move in the direction of the invention in what appears, in a sometimes dramatic staging, as a trace or deposit of oneself on paper or on the canvas, instant after instant, in an incessant becoming that dictates the very rhythms of thought and of being in expectation so to speak Brahmin, as an oriental sage, that yes disposes to observe and investigate an inscrutable horizon, moving without knowing it from a “without” (“being without ”, he says in a text) towards an unreliable“ destiny ”.
In my opinion, there is a text that says this attitude well and summarizes, Aesthetic result: “Glue and fold / le pages of yesterday. / Paper for the mouth / colored threshold of me.
/ I split the form / for the memory / and turn the sheet. / Turn also the horizon / slowly groaning / fixed star of becoming. / Aesthetic result / it smells like home “.
Here is what the writer awaits, the “result” he aspires to and it arrives by progressive approaches, it is an apparition of beauty, an “aesthetic-ecstatic” fact, of “forms” and “Memories” that aggregate on the “sheet”, support of the imagination which is deposited, day after day, in a sorta of cotidie lineam, “colored threshold” of the self leaving to glimpse all the great problems behind “window stickers of freedom” today (the war, the migrants, the difficult location of the individual in a context of counterfeit relationships from economic interests …).
This is how all of Serena Rossi’s research works: in a day to question and challenge the shadows, a real e one’s own hypnerotomachia, a “battle of love in the dream”, worthy of the ancient Prenestine Polyphile, which reveals itself the one and absolute truth.

Vincenzo Guarracino, Como 2019

Serena Rossi’s canvases become a terrain of possibilities for the creation of relationships between alchemical processes and the sphere of imagination. Her painting becomes a psychic path that leads to the perception of oneself and to the emancipation of the ego from inner conflicts. The large canvases rise to the place of existence of the artist and art, a space free from aesthetic conditions, in which Rossi conveys her emotions and her vital energy. Rossi, like an alchemist, transforms industrial materials (metal powders, acrylic sprays, glitters) into noble and artistic solutions. A complex project through which the endogenous drive aspires to transformation, to the liberation of the psyche projected and experienced in the alteration of material substances. In the studio-laboratory of the Milanese artist, among the stills and the brushes, the evolution of the personality, the metamorphosis of matter is expected, where the embryonic psyche starts its transmutation and in which we witness a chaotic struggle between opposing tendencies and energies. The emulsified colors follow fictitious architectures, winding along the canvas surface in dense and soft layers of chromatic masses interspersed with empty spaces, moments of respite and interstice between the various materials. An energy moves freely and appears to follow no internal logic or rational principle. “Forms” emerge from a teeming, energetic material, which in turn dissolves in a primordial scenario of fluidification of every identity. The essence of his work therefore lies in their combination and their condensation. The conquest of art consists in the final stage characterized by the fusion of the elements and the ultimate synthesis: the canvas, where the impressions of the spectator and the artist come to life through fantastic visions. The matter boils as if it were to individually unleash a certain vitalism in order not to be subjugated by a primordial ground in which every element also appears immersed, or, again the signs vaporize, becoming dreamlike forms that float evanescent in the ether, in the world of art.

Sonia Patrizia Catena 2012

Serena Rossi paints life. Each of his works portrays what we see and experience, feel and experience every day: harshness, misunderstandings, bitterness but also sweetness, positivity, affection.

His is a multi-level painting, the reading of which makes us discover that, in the face of a complex technique (collage + glitters) and certainly not appropriate materials (enamels, poor metal), the result is instead the synthesis of simple and linear, the result of an always careful and calibrated pictorial intuition.

In his informal vision, the colors are generally soft and, especially in the large (practically monochrome) paintings, they acquire a formal composure that can be traced back to the ceramics of Fontana or the works of Klein and Fautrier.

Certainly her paintings vibrate with their own life and their own light, and Serena strives, in this study of lightness and tone, to always propose new emotions and new suggestions.

In his large-format works, poetry plays with reality and the image becomes poetry.

Ludovico Calchi Novati, 2010