A critical text by Roberto Vitali

Wanda Benatti’s work can be included, in some ways, in the context of Abstract Expressionism, but if we took this definition literally, it would be rather limited.
In fact, it is not difficult to find other influences in this artist (the fourteenth century Sienese in her golden backgrounds and the graphic oriental experience in some gestural elements connected to the Arabian writing) while she is keeping her attention still alive towards the relationship sign/space/colour.
We also should not be deceived by the presence of references to reality – as it happens in her “flowers” – because they are always just pretexts, while Benatti’s ultimate goal is to transport a particular mood (it does not really matter if they are paper, canvas or whatever) on surfaces.
It is a state of mind that is expressed only through simple suggestions, but never explicitly. The result is that this process eventually involves the viewer totally, absorbing him in the artist’s game and immersing him in an atmosphere of mystery.
It is no coincidence that Benatti has got a keen sense of brightness and precisely this originates her compositions, which are never static because their inward movement is dominated by colours and contrast effects. Think of the symbolic value of the dark shades, which do not remove any brightness, but rather emphasize it even more.
It should also be noted that a constant feauture of these works is the presence of a restrained aggressiveness that results in ambiguity. This ambiguity is closely connected to that allusiveness mentioned above. Through these observations we come to the image of a serious artist who is involved in the field of a rigorous aesthetic research that allows her to pass from the “flowers” to the “serie rossa” (the red series), without ever betraying herself, developing a unique and consistent language centred on refined subject variations.

Roberto Vitali
Bologna, 2 February 1994

(presentation of the solo exhibition at the NAVILE Cultural Space – Bologna)