Tribute to Wanda Benatti

Let me tell you an anecdote.
When the critic David D.Duncan showed up at the Picasso’s studio-workshop to talk to him about the publication that he wanted to do of his complete works, maybe he thought he could be received in a formal way or even invited for a coffee in the garden. Picasso, instead, who was so busy and “drowned” into three pictures which he was working on simultaneously, only said to him: “ Come after me and write while I go on with my works”
If Wanda allows me this transgression at its limit, it is due to the fact that, with her, the situation is similar.
Anyway, anything made by her that you have already seen is not to be found anymore in her present activity, because her working activity is so turbulent that she can hard go back on her tracks.
The relation that she creates with her canvas – the same happens with other materials that she attacks, such as glass, wood, iron or paper – is so impassioned and impulsive that it always produces a diversifying catharsis.
If we tried to discover where her categorical imperative comes from, which is to produce expression non stop, I could refer to the far-off years in which she worked in my studio and tried, whenever it was possible, to light up the presentation of some architectural projects of mine with her poetic mark. This happened for the participation at the Biennial Exhibition of Modern Art in Venice in 1992, where my churches appeared with her own gestural colour contribution.
If we had to “dismantle” the single parts of the composition in her works – according to the decontructionist principle –, we certailny would find a generation of shapes but, above all, we would discover how the colours “fight” each other in order to come out, to explode! Above all, beyond forms and colours, we would certainly realize that these are not the elements which give life to the work, but the “energy” which is inside them. In fact, the work is not motionless, nor static or finished or dead. Wanda’s work is exploding and each time we look at it and stop the image that comes to us, trying to understand it, we realize that it has changed, it has grown, it is exceeding the painting’s limits, it is exploding.
This sense of strength gives a sense of superior complexity to Wanda’s works, which is not compositional, but “energetic”. It is as if we found the entropy principle concentrated here, but upside down, so that the expressive value can be understood little by little and instead of fading away it is even exalted.
But I must go on. This primitive power of the work develops according to an abstract stylistic process that lets the contents free from any anthropomorphic reference and this power succeeds in realizing – as if by a hidden magic – the sense which is used by the “Natural Nature” in creating the world.
Then here is that, suprisingly, in the glomere of the greatest pictorial gestures, some clear horizons appear, calm spaces, from where romantic landscapes seem to come out; the typical atmospheres of the wide horizons shine through her work. This way of mentioning the “sky”, through which the artist wants to memorize this exhibition, includes the tension – maybe unconscius – that refers to the depth of the sidereal space as to the “mystery place” of Universe. Here abstraction (the imaginative play of “celestial bodies” and star clusters) and maximum concreteness (of their own existence of matter) coincide in a single sublimation.
But there still is something that I cannot leave out. It deals with the proxemic relationships with the works. With the representations of a smaller size my eye moves toward the image till it takes possession of it. It is as if my eye was “going out” of me in order to catch the meaning of the sign and deliver it to my brain, so that it could record and understand it.
Everything is different with the big paintings. They come toward me and they don’t relate to my eye, but to all my body, they come into a psychophysical contact with myself, till I have the impression that the painting incorporates me in its dimension and so the painting and I become a single thing. It is the same effect that we feel in the musical experience, where the sound becomes our space.

Glauco Gresleri
in Bologna