Barbara Duran

Renato Miracco

Art Curator and Director of the Italian Cultural Institute, in New York

To Barbara

All that I see becomes for me form and “state of mind”.
At times even I see those referable forms that people perceive in my paintings.
(….) The painting is not the first object to hit the eye…it’s what is concealed behind it.
I am not interested in “abstracting” or extracting things, or taking the painting back to the drawing, the form, the line or the colour.
The way I paint allows me to continue inserting things repeatedly in the painting: drama, pain, anger, love, a body, a horse, my idea of space.
Through the eyes of the observer these things become ideas or emotions.”

Willem De Kooning, “Notes on Art”,1957


I have known Barbara for a very long time.

We have shared, dreamt, hoped to rebuild, to track down through dance, ancient civilizations and disused modalities of communication. I remember giving her as a present a small jade female dancer, of which I have the male version, indeed to emphasize this timeless bond which connected us.

Life passes and flows and in Constantin Kavafis’ words, “takes us to unknown and unheard-of havens.
Yet in Barbara’s latest production I find anew a bond, a search, at times obsessive, but never a means to itself, of Memory.

Memory as a daily methodology, as an exercise of living and as a heritage to pass on the two meanings of Personal Memory and historical Memory. Indeed we always see in Barbara the will to teach us a course, to indicate a way, to guide us, even where at times we are stubborn, on her path, towards her Memory, towards her Truth.
Not by chance I wish to recall the lines of Ezra Pound, grandfather of our dear Patrizia, who today wanted to dedicate a poem to this exhibition, lines that say, (forgive me, I quote from memory)

“What thou lovest well remains,
The rest is dross,
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage…..” (Canto LXXXI)

Our heritage is something we do not leave behind, but we live by it every day, in the flow of the seasons, in the course of our daily decisions, in the burdens we decide to abandon on the side of the road or to carry on our shoulders.
Heritage is life And our artist is very clear about that.

Duran’s alphabet, even if her first figurative works are remarkable, (and I own a few) is born from the abstractionism, with the identification of emotional pathways and the principles of reality’s perception, reaching the definition of a language based on the expressive and symbolic function of colour and on the rhythm produced by mutual relations of pure forms. Can a pictorial form also have a value of appearance? Definitely so in our case.

Barbara, confronting some of the emotions, arranging and in some way representing, is in fact compelled, sometimes through drastic steps, to transform these emotions and ideas into new forms or to delineate these forms so that their coherence and their independent value would be equal or greater than that of the elements which create them and from which they derive.
The emotional form Barbara suggests must not be considered as a mere wrapping: it has “the genius of inaccuracy”, it changes continually, it springs from a transformation or is preparing the next one.

The formal inherent relation is not the one between the image and the things reproduced, but the one which intervenes between the images and a visual emotion gathered in its totality and by which at times we are bewildered for its intensity.
This way the real given dematerializes itself, becoming disembodied, and the space of the painting becomes the space of duality, as much as of the presence as of the absence.

The figure, as we see in today’s exhibited works, illustrative of a long journey, emerges, floats, sinks into a perpetual becoming.
Sign and image, in her work, are at the beginning the same thing which the conscience turns into two different directions.
But there can also be an imposition of the sign on behalf of the image, depriving it of any semantic content.
Or else, in the opposite case, the possibility of isolating the object of the phenomenal world, and to force it to undergo a process where there is no fulfilment, so as to proceed either to a sign , or to a sign-image .
This can be seen for example in the large polyptych “Forma Corporeitatis” where hers is a lesson following a reduction of the elements of line and colour to the essential, trying to represent the essence of reality, instead of its exact natural appearance.
Or still in the ” Monadi” where the intimate relation between the sign and the “dream”, meant as another place, becomes familiar and essential.
If the dream, word to mark the boundary of a timeless place in the painting, is lived as a place of an operating and crucial subjectivity, then for Barbara, drawing, painting, writing the dream or securing and crystallizing the sign, is at the same time an exercise of awareness and of imaginative appeal which becomes pure flowing in the short yet intensely packed film which accompanies the exhibition.
And not by chance have I quoted De Kooning at the beginning of this brief introduction, because what he declares is a wish I direct to my friend Barbara from the bottom of my heart.

“more and more love, pain, anger, in your painting and… make us follow you…..!!!!!”

With affection,

New York, 14/2/09