When I saw the works by Pietra Barrasso for the first time I understood, without having any scientific proof, that behind that detailed meticulous folding of mortar mixed together with pigments, there was hidden, not just a swift and certain hand, but also a complete artistic vision, an idea of art that, evidently, she has been able to follow in the past and express herself by exploiting ancient knowledge and ability.
I had the sensation that these continual shoots of radiant colour worked over with the palette knife, known as "rays of light", were like the
final expression of a deeply-rooted tradition that has been progressively sublimated in the pure conceptuality of light.
I only had a confirmation of this recently, when the artist showed me, asking for my opinion, an oil on canvas that she had painted in 2000: a splendid Madonna in trono con angeli, worthy of the best painters of the fifteenth century...a kind of painting that she has since gone beyond to arrive, over time, at an Informal style. However, beneath this Informalism there lies an exceptional sculptural-painterly formalism; we can intuit a first-class academic preparation, one that loves chalks, charcoal, and casts of statues, one that teaches pupils the history of art, and one that promotes only those who have passed the test of learning.
When Picasso, having been the star pupil at the Barcelona art college, transformed himself in just a couple of decades into the detonator of human bodies and faces in the spirit of the anti-figurative, progressive stimuli that Paris, at the start of the twentieth century, impressed on the artists living there, he had taken the same step that, perhaps even in a shorter time, the artists of today might achieve...
There is a suspicion of déjà vu. Personally, I do not believe that we can speak of processes we have already experienced or artistic practices we have already seen, because all twentieth century art has been nourished by various and different sources, each of which with its own autonomous reason for existing, even in relationship to historical cycles which, as is well known, can be repeated without any damage to the originality of proposals which are simply being renewed.
When an artist such as Pietra Barrasso manages to speak in the language of yesterday (by respecting classical icons) and the language of today (by shifting from a classicist position to a new one founded only on chromatic brilliance), she is not someone who insists on following a rigid path - one, by the way, that nobody has decreed an end to - but on following a creative aim that can plough the waves of time.
The unquantifiable and unpredictable processes of transforming an academic model into a non-figurative expression are the central theme of her art: she has arrived at the conclusion that this process does not have a precise end and that it could continue on to infinity, unless by ending the existence of painting...
I can state with certainty that this Roman artist's current works exactly correspond to the altarpiece she once showed me, and for these reasons: the composition of the various surfaces plays with radial effects which, obtained from colour-material mixtures broken up into textures, do not ignore the antique rules of composition.
Even though perspective does not exist in the sense of graphic reproduction, it all the same imposes a traditional idea of the distribution of parts: these have a speedy movement, at time horizontal, at others vertical or diagonal, thus re-establishing in some way the visual dynamic of Italian Futurist painting.
The colour choices constantly answer to an interior order that insists on modulated ranges of blue, rather than red or green, and in her arrangement of tonal relationships the painter uses all her skill to establish the precise role and functions between complementary colours.
So space becomes a polychrome illusion... it is no longer a representation but a mental projection, exactly as are the spaces of our contemporaneity. In the art of other times the logic of visual deception was hidden by the ability to reproduce what was not there; but modern society, which has no need of reproduced spaces since it continually interacts with multimedia means, searches for another kind of deception, that offered by a painting that everywhere emanates colour and sensations, colour and emotions, colour and light...