From the outset, Beatrice Marchi’s multifaceted, multidisciplinary and participatory practice has ranged from drawing to painting, from animation to performance and from video to sound, and has taken the clown as its point of reference. A figure that, according to the French actor, mime and teacher Jacques Lecoq, reveals human nature through failure in a way that moves us and makes us laugh. The human parable of the clown with his mask, his gestures and his mimicry, with his follies and his pranks, grants the favour of laughter to those who are suffering, fostering a reconciliation. Laughing at him we also laugh a little at ourselves, consoling us because he is like us. ‘I am a clown… and I collect moments,’ Heinrich Böll liked to say.
In Casa Masaccio many of the hybrid and double, comical and dissolute, vulnerable and noble personages to which Beatrice Marchi has given life over time have been brought together and reactivated. From Loredana, the female clown with claws, to the perfidious but well-intentioned Katie Fox, from Dori Karbon to Susy Culinski and the dog Mafalda, half human and half animal. Figures that meditate on laughter and on the metaphorical power of the comic act. They are Le Amiche, subtle presences that, in pursuit of an elusive nothing, sublimate the gravity and inertia of the human condition through the levity, gratuitousness and apparent groundlessness of their actions. Le Amiche (The Girlfriends, 2019, oil and acrylic on canvas), the image that encapsulates the exhibition, speaking of a period in life, that of the end of childhood and its anxieties, represents teenage girls confiding in each other and exchanging views on the changes in their bodies in the open air of the morning. The scene is based on a memory of the artist’s own childhood and alludes to the role play and power games that go on in different ways in the world of adults.
The title of the exhibition is replete with both visual and literary references and memories, from Michelangelo Antonioni’s film, winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1955 and inspired in turn by Cesare Pavese’s Tra donne sole (Among Women Only) and the disquieting atmospheres of Felice Casorati’s paintings. Or, again, Carlo Cassola’s novella Le amiche (1949), which talks about the little secrets of youth, the domestic chitchat that makes the days, the months and the years pass in a flash, infusing the inexhaustible mark of reality into each moment of everyday banality.
Autoritratto dormiente in “Der Jungbrunnen” (Sleeping Self-portrait in ‘Der Jungbrunnen’, 2019) is a video in which the dreamlike scene drawn from Lucas Cranach the Elder’s painting The Fountain of Youth, a mythical spring that offers immortality, contains a puppet with closed eyes pedalling incessantly, supported by his double. The figure is in reality based on what is believed to be Piero della Francesca’s self-portrait in the guise of a sleeping soldier in the Resurrection of Christ at Sansepolcro.
Visitors to the exhibition wind their way through sounds, sculptures, installations and moving pictures, while a series of paintings produced especially for this occasion throws open, in every room of the house, windows onto somewhere else.
In the vertigo of a distorted arcadia, bodies and landscape find the mark of a nature on the point of collapse, letting the gaze wander somewhere in the incomplete.