Goa, Ladakh appear in abstract at Italian Francesca’s Grimaldis latest paintings in Delhi


Goa, Ladakh appear in abstract at Italian Francesca Grimaldis latest paintings in Delhi

New Delhi, Feb 24: The soothing breeze at twilight hours along the tropical Goa beaches tugged at the sensibility of Francesca Amalia Grimaldi like a thin layer of fine silk, triggering spontaneous creativity in the Italian painter. That inspired her to wield her brush on the canvas with distinctive imagery, even as the images carried flashbacks to her formative years on the seafronts of her Mediterranean country.

An exhibition, which is now on in the Indian capital, features ‘Goa Beach’ among 32 select paintings of the European artist. The five-day event, named ‘Metamorphosis’ and displaying some of Francesca’s most recent mixed-media works, will be for public view till the coming Tuesday at LTC, Bikaner House.

The February 23-27 show, curated by scholar-author Uma Nair, was inaugurated last evening by Italian Ambassador to India Vincenzo De Luca and art historian Aman Nath, who is founder of Neemrana Hotels. The exhibition is open from 11 am to 7 pm.

“For me the sea is like a colourful, graded symphony. It reflects layers in harmony through nostalgic melodies,” says Francesca, who grew up in Sardinia as well as Sicily, and did landscapes till end of the last decade.

The predominantly blue ‘Goa Beach’ (2023), measuring 122cm x 152.5cm on the canvas, is an impressionist landscape that suggests the artist’s preference for solitude. The seashore tourist spot in southwest India is where Francesca returns “again and again”. They lend her creations a meditative signature, which comes clear in ‘Metamorphosis’, being organised by Masha Art.

Curator Uma Nair notes that Francesca’s choice of ‘thin layers as colours’ enables her to translate the atmospherics onto the canvas. “For the artist, though, this virtuosity is not the goal. It’s almost a by-product of the dulcet shades and nuances she adopts to create the mood,” she says, adding: “This mastery is evident in her abstract study ‘Under the Sea’ and a diptych named ‘For War’.”

The harmony in the hues has also to do with the visual artist’s love for music. “I was drawn to classical composers…right from my childhood,” recalls Francesca, whose father was a violinist-pianist. “Now when I paint I listen to masters,” she reveals, reeling out names of Sergei Rachmaninoff, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and, of course, W.A. Mozart, besides certain jazz virtuosos.

Having spent her early years on an island surrounded by the sea, Francesca’s initial artistic creations predominantly bore a figurative character. “The blues of the seascapes prevailed, along with sand dunes with the green and red of the bushes. Junipers bent by the wind and, above all, long dark shadows heralded the evenings,” she trails off.

Masha Art, a prominent art investment firm with a portfolio of over 5,000 contemporary paintings and sculptures, notes that ‘Metamorphosis’ offers a unique treat to collectors, buffs and connoisseurs. “We explore diverse visual expressions in our pursuit for excellence and quality curation,” says Samarth Mathur, managing partner of the 2018-founded gallery.

Francesca is a trained geologist even as her first solo exhibition in Pordenone city dates back to 1987. Besides holding a degree in the science subject, she developed a passion for art history and nature. These inspired her to do figurative works. Into the late 1980s, a course Francesca attended at the Accademia Riaci in Florence refined and deepened her perspective drawing and painting techniques besides jewellery design. While she prefers mixed-media techniques using oils, acrylics and watercolours besides soft and oil pastels in figurative art, ‘Metamorphosis’ mirrors her felicity in abstract works.

Within her odyssey in blue at ‘Metamorphosis’ is Francesca’s ‘Ladak Mountain’, a diptych casting morning light over the frozen lakes of India’s highest plateau amid the morning mist. Also amongst the series done in the last four years is a robust set of works with shades other than blue. “The sunshine yellow and greens besides other mellow shades have a spirit of resonance,” notes Uma. “Other components such as the choice of colour and the composition come second.”

More recently, she explored the new frontiers of abstraction. This evolution is the result of a personal research in the field of contemporary expressionist painting, influenced by her extensive travels in Europe, Australia and America. Her abstract works see a domination of forms, black spaces and bright colours owing to the artist’s need to reach the manifestation of inner emotions. These elements are characterized by the deformation and exaggeration of large dark lines, at times broken and undulating, with a language that simultaneously employs contracted drawing synthesis and great chromatic value.

As soon as she begins working, Francesca “loses myself” in a maze of sunlit valleys, meandering ways and breathtaking landscapes. When it comes to ‘For War’ and ‘The Sound’, they are a pair of canvases steeped in abstract expressionism. The first is resonant with rich mustard-yellow while carrying a contrasting mood. “Layers of histories are hallmarks of Francesca’s work,” notes Uma.

Overall, ‘Metamorphosis’ is Francesca’s take on her ruminations as a woman artist in a contemporary urban world.

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