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Contemporary art blog, analyses and critique: 20th century and our times

September 5, 2021

Patrizia A. Salles, contemporary artist in dialog with history

by Alessio Santiago Policarpo (translated from its original in Italian)

From a very young age, Patrizia A. Salles pursued and cultivated a passionate artistic aptitude, achieving extraordinary results. At the age of seventeen, not surprisingly, she was awarded the renowned "Scholastics Art Gold Key Award,” obtaining a honorable mention at the New York competition. She completed university studies in the arts in the United States at the Art Institute in Atlanta.

Patrizia A. Salles, Extra Virgin, 2019 (detail)

Of note is her informed and cultural background of considerable international scope. Born in France, Patrizia was trained and worked in the USA and currently lives in Italy. Her countless journeys have enriched and opened her eyes to diversity - sometimes in the extreme - of what exists among the peoples of our earth. At the same time however, constantly recognizing a common essence within the diversity of humanity, a unity, notably within the spiritual realm: every nation, every civilization and every age has linked its destiny to faith and in something deeper which transcends material reality. A dimension connected to the sacred, influences filled with meaning of a variegated artistic expression, manifest in every corner of the world.

On the occasion of the "Mother Earth" exhibition held in the summer of 2019 at the Girolamo Rossi Archaeological Museum in Ventimiglia, the artist exhibited in the rooms alongside and in dialogue with the Roman sculptures preserved therein. Paintings depicting subjects taken from the ancients, divinities of the Greco-Roman pantheon, but revisited and recreated in mixed media utilizing bold colors. One painting in particularly stands out above all: Hera III, in which the head of Juno is portrayed, a sculpture from the 1st century AD and symbol of the Ventimiglia museum. The frontal view of the goddess painted by Patrizia is tightly cropped, giving the work an almost hypnotic effect: the empty eyes of the sculpture observe us from a distant past, questioning the meaning of the present and the fate and heritage of an ancient, shipwrecked world, yes, one that is intensely dreamed-of and still admired in modern times.

Patrizia A. Salles, Her III, 2019

Many great contemporary masters have paid homage and quoted the works of the ancients; Pistoletto, Paolini, Parmigiani and Mitoraj come to mind, sometimes through somewhat forced or unsettling reinterpretations. Patrizia A. Salles on the other hand, has always sought a style that does not misrepresent the iconography of those artistic civilization.

Her artistic research therefore has as an essential reference to the patrimony and visual heritage of the past. However, this artist's intent should not be misconstrued as “sterile reconstruction” or of static “quotationism.” Her ideals and desire are linked to a type of thought that does not identify with history’s radical discords, nor with the concept of artistic reconstruction. The flow of history, the continuity with tradition, the regeneration of images, archetypes and models, follow an etherial trajectory: maxims that survive and re-emerge despite the attempts by many artists to repudiate everything that has been produced before them. Past and present merge, intertwined in an unavoidable mesh. Our time, rediscovered is in debt to what was created by our ancestors, a recognition that those values and images (may) still have meaning.

Patrizia A. Salles, Venus of the Balzi Rossi, 2020

A painting that pays homage to the Venus of the Balzi Rossi, a statuette dating back to the Upper Paleolithic (18,000 BC approximately) - preserved in the Musée des Antiquités Nationales in Saint Germain-en-Laye -, is an ancient symbol of fertility: Patrizia reintroduces this type of image, with an aim to reflect a concept common to many civilizations, namely of woman as a metaphor for mother-earth, as a source of life and nourishment. We can read the work not simply as an allusion to physical regeneration aimed at the continuation of the species - which would be rather trivial. We can however, consider the message as an examination of the prolific side of woman, as a muse from a metaphysical perspective coupled with that of creator — of culture, art, reflection. Woman, for too long under-valued and still obscured in some countries, is the main character of the visual research of our artist: Patrizia aspires to instill courage in all the women of the world who still have to fight to have their rights recognized, her art a powerful means for this noble goal.

Patrizia A. Salles, Genius Loki, 2018

The thirst for experimentation led the artist to work not only in the field of painting and sculpture, but also in the creation of vases and mosaics: Patrizia perfected the latter technique in Venice. An intriguing example is certainly the Lillith Vase: it is black, as it alludes to Lillith, a nocturnal creature from the Akkadian myth of ancient Iraq, also absorbed in Jewish tradition. In this work Patrizia speaks of woman. In fact Lillith embodies the feminine principle in particular the negative side in connection with sin, however the artist has probably chosen this subject to visualize a nineteenth-century interpretation: Lillith as the dark side of woman, which actually translates into rebellion, in opposition to the constraints imposed by the male world. On a technical level, it should be noted that the vase was fired following a typical Caribbean procedure, whereby the ceramic base was placed in an open pit with coconut shells. It is an amalgamation: in Patrizia's research, variegated cultural elements merge, different traditions and technical methods becoming intertwined.

Patrizia A. Salles, Lillith vase, 2013

The exhibition “io sono / i am" is taking place at the Studio d’Arte in Bordighera, Corso Italia n. 100, (8/25/2021- 09/8/2021). Through the representation of characters from antiquity, Patrizia intends to establish a connection with the men and women of today. The fascinating looks which seek our eyes, reflect strong personalities: a narrative of personages who wished to leave testimony of themselves and of their heroic deeds, above all their personal likeness via a portrait or commission, with the pretext of ingratiating themselves with their gods — superb visual works. Through the ages art passes on the memory of myths, stories and personalities that give shape to eternal dreams, which are also ours: that of finding a decisive answer in beauty, a comfort to quell the torments of the human condition, forget the fears of our ancestors and elevate the spirit.


Alessio Santiago Policarpo is a graduate of art history from the University of Florence, focusing today on themes relating to contemporary, and present-day art in both the traditional and figurative art themes. Alessio has curated two collective exhibitions in Florence, ("Corpus hominis" and "R-Existences") and held several conferences at prominent museums in Western Liguria: "Ligurian artists of the 20th century" and "Against contemporary art.”

Alessio has published articles in scientific journals (regarding Domenico Trentacoste and Mario Albertella) and in periodicals with a contribution about acclaimed Italian sculptor, Renata Cuneo. He is the author of the introduction and analysis for the exhibition catalog "My oasis" by painter Pino Venditti, held at the Anglican Church of Bordighera earlier this year. In addition to publishing his articles as well as other authors on his blog ArteOggi, he teaches in the Italian public school.


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