Barbara Duran

Domenico Guzzi

Di Riflesso | Exhibition at Studio Urbana | Rome 2007

To talk about Barbara Duran’s recent paintings (that is, mainly, works of the last three years), is to talk of an artist of various contrasting interests (see for example some of her illustrative paintings, as the recent “Tuareg Tales”: not illustrations as we generally intend, but real excerpts of painting). We should briefly consider one of her more extensive paintings and in some way, more intense and problematic: Deposition 2.

As soon as we have visited the studio, this painting among the others, has, indeed unconsciously, attracted our attention. There is in it something with the capacity to generate and to reveal. A revelation of disposition, above all, which is evident thanks to a tension towards the rhythmical conception of a synthetic yet cryptic narrative; an idea of matter which in itself summarizes all other elaboration of the painter: a subject capable of living in the fluidity and in the density, in the mass as in the sensation of the skin; a score of composite levels with a ” taste” for the geometric: see how in the vertical line, for example, the painting is combined through four chromatic levels, determined in as many forms; the formal and linear encasing, which in the figure, evokes the ellipse and therefore, again a rhythmic geometry, contradicting the dominant horizons.

The painting, in short, has caught our attention, seeming even to stimulate from and in the memory something which is, however, a vague thought not completely capable of narrowing itself into a definite image (what nonetheless found its collocation between Secession and Expressionism).
Even because we thought it to be a mere and punctual “quotation”, this kind of memory would be a solution beyond its own time. Instead this time is experienced by Barbara Duran.

Provided that we understand it, of course, as a moment which encompasses, obviously, history and actuality. Or better said: as a moment which in and from its actuality does not rule out the thought of history, yet carries it on by sedimentation.
Thus the impression of awareness of “history” has little by little established itself, once we abandoned every other consideration and mnemonic survey of that painting, turning our attention towards other works: some diptychs (Reversed, Diptych, Diptych) and triptych ( Bogarin ) , for example, as towards others conceived horizontally, and measured by “apportions” where we find, through symbolic accentuations, some enunciations of the experienced ( In reflection ).

In the same way the thought of an actuality has been established, whereas for the horizontal compositions the conception of “dais” can be evoked: so, a multiple image but homogenous in terms of narration, can equally be evoked – and here we have the concept of sedimentation, which in itself contains each evolution – the concept of sequence, and also that of “simultaneity”, without dispersing the reality of the visual input.
These are paintings which can, only by misinterpreting the real significance, be considered as existential “annotations”. This concept must not be completely excluded: besides, painting is based also on “annotations” and it is, often, an annotation, on the condition of reciprocity between author and reality, between author and thought. In any case thought reflects on itself, and from itself emerges a condition properly experienced or, in other ways, “wished for”. Thus all together and in their thematic diversity (visible to the outsider, surely not for who conceives the image), those “fragments” form a sense of a complex “idiom”, for which of course the “temporal” of what follows is evoked, obviously as a whole in the memory. Thus plurality in unity.

For the composition of the “diptych” and “triptych” the reasoning is, in a sense, “diverse” yet not totally “dissimilar”. We might believe that primarily it’s the image which needs its own space, to be able to exist. In the same way that this assumption could be confirmed in the predominant thematic. Men and women mainly ( Figures ) . Subjects which need their own place, even in the mutual union and in terms of life, (not without reason has Duran adopted the term “monads” for a “cycle” of another thematic). Paradoxically then, the union really exists in the space that separates them ( Diptych ) . From here, and for what affects the generality of the images, a reflection that concerns us, one could say philosophically, the concept of existentiality (“{…} as if our own narrative – she writes – our being here, our appearance, (not in an exterior but in an interior way) would signify all along “in fieri”, (a becoming) because it is {…}.

Existentiality for which however one does not make reference, as often happens, to a dramatic power, (at least when not considered inherent in the principle of existence). On the contrary it would seem that Duran keeps herself equally distant from it and its opposite.
In the end, her fundamental interest is not aimed at the reasons of the narrative, but of becoming the painting of the narrative. And here is, as we mentioned before, the elaboration of matter; the conception of spaces, the composite stabilities. Observing, for example, the harmonious accents of light and shadows, we see how the “volumetric” intentions determine the physicality of a body ( Inverted ).

Brush strokes, often bitter, slithering on a wooden support which absorbs the colour.

Domenico Guzzi