One hundred and forty-nine

Il Cavallo

2004 by Stefania Mainardi
Temporary Exhibition, Broadway Gallery, New York

Mainardi’s work is distinctly Italian. Obvious in subject, her paintings are rife with the rippling muscles of Roman sculptural torsos, but also in the very essence of her painting. Her brush strokes are bold and powerful, fuelled it seems by the painterly masters of her history (Caravaggio), as well as with the more recent thrusts of the Futurists and their attention for the strength and movement of things. For, like the Futurists, Mainardi’s work looks to the concrete triumphs of man, what we are able to achieve and physically build. The angles and viewpoints of her painting show architecture and sculpture at its best, for its streamlined perspective and awe-inspiring magnanimity. However, these paintings are not Futurist rejections of the past, quite the opposite, they celebrate what Italy has to give; a celebration of Italian form which reflects Mainardi’s background of architectural study. Is it no wonder that someone so inspired by the architecture of her country is able to depict it in paint so energetically. Il Cavallo is a dramatic climax of restrained colour and light; a brightness, glowing fire-like, grows from the bottom of the painting to be consumed by the blackness of sky at the top. This light bounces off the smooth curved contours of stone that play with and accentuate the horse’s dexterity, as well creeping up the arched building which is wonderfully warm, naturally Delaunay-like (Eiffel Tower), in colouration. The arches are darkly ominous, sucking in it seems the light of the painting; they are shown as repetitive and effective architectural tropes, simple but visually impressive.

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