The Narcissus Effectworks
Occasionally, in moments of grace, painting becomes incantation. In such a favored moment, the lavish spectacle of color gamut, hues, tint drawings, semitones and fine writing may reveal an alternative world which is no longer in propriety of the art of painting. In privileged instants of the like, the figurative idiom is pervaded by some unfamiliar languages, pulsing to fit different rhythms, and ruffled by unknown effluvia. The paintings of Barbara pave the way towards such an adventure, in an imaginary realm of eerie beauty. Separated from us by sumptuous frames, spectacular artistry in themselves, unsettling characters show up in ceremony and banquet halls, with the slow motion of sepulchral butterflies. They seem to emerge from the innermost depths of the waters that once were reflecting Narcissus, the magic water which dissolved the mortal self to preserve just the mirror–face. A similar fate seems to bond also the personages depicted by Barbara: they are also enchanted by their own splendor, sparse in their own airiness; they are approaching us from the dreamy world, displaying their mirror-face, so that we could recognize our own self in them. Thus, the faces become fairy tales with a meaning enciphered in the drawing calligraphy, in the comeliness of gestures, in the ambiguity of expressions. Perhaps this is why the figures that Barbara is depicting bear that particular melancholic gaze which is so characteristic of the “fin de siècle” zeitgeist, that peculiar aristocratic abandonment which may be just at times gracefully veiled by the shade of a smile. Nightly glimpses and overwhelming gestures, shrouded in silk, velvet and lace, add further value to the transparent skins. Their paleness reads living behind joyous exhilaration of the world of appearances that we day after day inhabit. Nothing can trouble the deep waters of these paintings; no face renders the pathos of joy or grief, inquietude and lust. Their energy in its entirety is mesmerizingly concentrated in the eye. These pairs of eyes, resembling in depth with a well, apparently tell us that long ago they witnessed something essential. The characters depicted by Barbara emanate the tranquility of those who saw, therefore they know. They come to us clad with the robe of the unspeakable. How come they are so silent? Why do they exhibit a ghost-like visage, why do they decide not to cross over the waters of nocturnal mirrors, beyond sensible chromatic range and sound vibrations? How come their voice is still mute and don’t speak out the truth that has been bestowed to them? There is impenetrable silence around and inside them, which echoes the silent sorrow of Eurydice and the self-indulgent ecstatic look of Narcissus the Beautiful.
Come back, Laizza, and bring along all tales of the world! Returned be thee, vulnerable womanliness, come back, melancholic and involuntary sensuality, bounce over the stone lips of the precious frames, indent their stucco and vivify them with the waters of the night, and bring back with you the Golden Boy, and Rita Levi, and the bloodless Queen Margot, and carry the Afghan Girl away from the remaining ashes of the camp fire. Pay your toll to Narcissus, and share with us what it was that you saw and know, for who knows, we will once comprehend the borders that separate our worlds.
Then we will more profoundly understand the poetics of the framing threshold, waves and resonances, exiles up to the boundaries of dimming realms or the secret of the appointments that work wonders. Perhaps we will then understand the tale of a world which hasn’t been appropriated to us yet, seen through the transparency of a face that has never been ours.