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"Art is my sword, my life and my death"

By Alessandra Della Valentina


Like a priest, the artist leads a life of self-denial, and his obligation as an artist is to dedicate his life to the broad religion of art. The creative act of painting has passed through all stages, from the highest levels of the sublime to its various debased and negative manifestations. In our time, it seems that there is a powerful cast that interferes with aesthetic experience, establishing with severe judgment who will be the chosen and who the damned. Contemporary painting seems to have become a cruel game, a false ritual that has no reference to aesthetic and emotive canons, as if the quest for reason and coherence is something to be ashamed of.

Intimidated and humiliated by this landscape of ruins, I do not pretend to change things. My only wish is to become a human being who faces her own reality, thereby having no secrets. To this faith, I am dedicating my work, as the act of painting somehow brings me closer to God. Thus, the act of creating becomes each day a new prayer. I search for the soul contained in matter, like an alchemist. I search in colour, in wood, and in canvas. Materials suggest the road I should take in my search. And I use their suggestions as words are used in a prayer.

The manner in which I manipulate matter in the creative process is, for me, a ritual. Each time I enter the ritual phase of creating, I enter the realm of the sacred, thus feeling the nature of existence. Hence, I use matter to convey the divine essence of the universe; and if I can bring this truth to others I have accomplished one of my duties as an artist. Yet, it is not only the divinity of matter that makes art; art can only happen when matter becomes one with my essence. In that sense art is an alchemy that fuses matter and spirit. In this way, the alchemy of creating becomes the search for my own truth. It is an exclusive truth that in my soul I understand will always be beyond capture, but in the search is the joy my work brings me. It is a joy that comes when I enter my playground of things and ideas. The materials of my art, the wood, string and colour take form through my own style of play and the accumulated experiences of my life. Without play, without joy, without pain, the human condition would have no meaning. That is, why I leave my play, my suffering, and beyond anything else, my love for life, as joyful or painful as it may be, in my work. Thus, art is my sword, my journey, my life and my death, and with it I continue my eternal prayer.

Copyright 1996 PROMETHEUS
Reprinted with permission

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PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin for Art, Politics and Science.