• Re-inventing Renaissance

    Date posted: August 30, 2010 Author: jolanta
    Putting Renaissance sculptures at the forefront of her paintings, Stefania Mainardi’s work turns these ancient characters into the paintings’ primary subject matter, making them the focal points in each piece. Painted in such an attentive, detailed way these painted statues possess a vitality that makes them appear closer to life. Finding those warm tones in the ordinarily cold marble sometimes gives the viewer a way to find a slight flush in that silent stone, and maybe even imagine a pulse underneath that still surface. The color palette Mainardi uses for these aged statues is quite unique. Though describing something existing as a single color, Mainardi finds an array of tones and colors that generate an entire spectrum of shades.

    Jill Smith

    Courtesy of the artist.

    Putting Renaissance sculptures at the forefront of her paintings, Stefania Mainardi’s work turns these ancient characters into the paintings’ primary subject matter, making them the focal points in each piece. Painted in such an attentive, detailed way these painted statues possess a vitality that makes them appear closer to life. Finding those warm tones in the ordinarily cold marble sometimes gives the viewer a way to find a slight flush in that silent stone, and maybe even imagine a pulse underneath that still surface. The color palette Mainardi uses for these aged statues is quite unique. Though describing something existing as a single color, Mainardi finds an array of tones and colors that generate an entire spectrum of shades. One is able to find reds, blues, yellows, and any combinations there of. This feature in Mainardi’s work displays her technical skill as a painter, and adds a certain dynamism to her work, adding a radiating life to an otherwise stoic object.

    In some of her pieces the facial features and the entire head of the statues are not there, just the central part of the body. There seems to be an opposite effect of her blushing tones, a reinforcement of the fact that this is a statue being viewed. The proud, staged poise of the figures reiterates its theatrical intent and unreal presence. Regardless of the varying characters’ vivacity, there is something in the broader picture that ties all of the artist’s pieces under her own aesthetic. Whether as cold as stone, or flushed with life, these statues and her work consistently possess a character that is all of Mainardi’s own.

    The juxtaposition of the human figure with geometric and architectural elements is a theme that remains constant throughout all of Mainardi’s works. In some there is only some flatly spread paint cleanly contained within geometric shapes, somewhat referential to Mondrian’s work. In others, there is the same flat application of paint, but with some subtle gradation and movement to and from different shades. There is also some general construction of an architectural setting in the background. In a few, it even seems to allude to a similar time and place (as the statues). Set against Roman arcs, pillars, and columns, these statues appear right at home, with the exception of the flattened description, distancing itself from the figures, existing in a much more contemporary time. This kind of approach to painting was something that arrived many years after the classical periods, making Mainardi’s combination of her painting technique and subjects a rather unusual mix. This visual—the divergence of subject matter and background, the aesthetic gap between object and environment—is the main weight behind Mainardi’s paintings. The pairing of these two aesthetics is surprising and establishes a wavering experience for the viewer. Produced solely from components of the Renaissance era, Mainardi’s work is expected to put forth an archaic and classical quality. However, the artist’s decisions in her unique dissections of the subject matter contest to that notion and put forth a different kind of feeling, with objects floating, completely ungrounded and taking repetitious rhythms in a sort of contemporary style. These pieces speak in a modern tone despite their antiquated subjects. The aligned, recurring architecture could perhaps be referential to the ancient times, but with Mainardi’s ungradiated style, slick and clean, the architecture becomes part of another period in time.

    Mainardi’s paintings muse and fuse the classical and the modern, the portrait and the landscape, the flat and the defined. These pieces communicate an entanglement of time, the old meeting the new and a general clashing and meshing of foils.

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