PITTURA ZOO (PAINTING ZOO)
By Angela Bruschi
Caterina Prato is from Salento. She graduated from the Rome Academy of Fine Arts where she studied painting under Enzo Brunori. She has collaborated with architects, decorators, and restorers. Her influences include the colours and informal spirit of the painters she loves: Rothko, Cy Twombly, Morandi, Simone Martini, and Masaccio. The large surfaces of her paintings are treated with thin glazes one on top of the other in preparation for the miniscule mark making; our thoughts jump to large maps describing invisible places. There are excerpts from Salento's past, "The Land of Remorse: a study of Southern Italian Tarantism" by Ernesto de Martino, which Caterina moves around her imagined gravity-free world: a place without up, down, north, or south. Most of all, there are traces of recollected places clouded by bleak transparent waters on whose surface familiar forms shimmer. Hers is an ancient language, like the one used by the first cartographers who - in painstaking detail - described worlds seen or perhaps only heard about. Paths and place names trying to find their way in a cyclical motion at times linear and at times spiralling, interweaving in a play of dots and dashes united by the candid gaze of a childlike dream. Houses, cities, trees, kites, fish, and flowers disappear; only to reappear, come together, intersect, and clash. Wind turbines appear like some mystical crosses. Scraped and tormented grooves leave moments of calm, creating exits towards unknown destinations. Evocative references and primitive and symbolic writing play in front of and with the gaze; transforming into texture, they speak of worlds as yet undiscovered but which have always existed. The playful marks are like the record of mental processes arriving from the brink of chaos to represent phaòs (enlightenment). Yet the games are not so innocent and naive, and become lacerations, wounds. Few concessions to vivid hues as the colours overlap and fade. In search of silence, the oils are extended and stretched, transforming into neutral tones: green-non green, blue-non blue, ochre-non ochre. It is a colour which cannot simply be attributed to the “grunge” sensibility of the times but rather to the resurrection of an ancient dream of the truth made visible. The symbol represents presence by virtue of absence, replacing the thing itself with the present thing. In this restorative blue sea, art plays an unfamiliar yet nonetheless successful game (Paul Klee), as we are happily transported by both the large and small enchanting streams.