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Titina Maselli e le città visibili

30.01 - 20.02.2021

Titina Maselli painted cityscapes, in full daylight and at dusk, with neon lights and signs, overhead tram lines cutting through a lit background, yellow and red modular skyscrapers. In her cities lived, fell and ran footballers, boxers and cyclists, captured in the act of giving or receiving the winner’s flowers.
Her first show with the Gallery opens on Saturday, 30th January, from 4 to 8 pm, together with two projects devoted to Photography, a passion I have developed in the last ten years.
A reliable assistant and nothing more, I had no interest in It. I just needed It to document my work. Then, one day, we met… or better said, we clashed! thanks to friends like Luigi Ghirri and John Hilliard. These two projects are dedicated to them.
I have known John Hilliard since we were young lads. His photography has always been ambiguous; at first glance, it is hard to grasp what is going on. It takes time to understand his work, the smallest shifts in pictures and meanings overlap ever so slowly to create the final picture, assuming there is one and not two, three or more.
Then one day I came across Luigi Ghirri’s photographs, so familiar they could have been mine. And yet, there was something I failed to understand, I knew there was something else, but what? I am not going to tell you; after all, it is a personal experience, intimate, different for each of us, like an intuition. The truth is that the moment I thought I had finally understood Ghirri and his world, I changed the way I took photos. I guess it dawned on me that his pictures, uncomplicated as they were, contained a powerful message; they were constructed and not random, they were sought out, wanted, they made a statement and proved it, like a poetic theorem.
Though not everyone can paint, we could say that we are all photographers: who hasn’t taken at least one photo?
First, black and white (duty, commitment, research, dedication), then colour. That was a turning point even for us, weekend photographers. It was nicer and easier.
Luigi Ghirri and John Hilliard themselves found colour standing in their way, pointing to a new direction. Out with Neorealism, cloaks, sheep. An old world to be explored with the new world. Invisible cities became visible.
Just like the legendary visions of our Roman artist, daydreamer and inventor of new shapes evocative of energy, light, lines, athletes, vanishing points. Città (1956), Metrò (1975), Notte a New York (1989) are showpieces of Titina’s work. I will never call her Maselli: Titina is a beautiful name, intimate, familiar, it suits a person who, in the photo of the last book (Maretti, Pietromarchi, Coni), resembles Nannarella.
I picture her in her Paris studio, in the portraits painted by Aurelio Amendola or Elisabetta Catalano and I see the intensity of her gaze, the same intensity she portrays in the cities she paints, inhabited by boxers, footballers, racing cyclists fighting for victory, holding onto a fragrant bunch of flowers, with the rattling of the tram, the swarming of the starlings in the Roman autumn, and the loud call of the partridges in the background.
And then the last paintings, incredible, modern, the very same path of Titian and Rembrandt, matter falls apart, signs are no longer razor-sharp but quietly welcoming: green, red, blue hues without dark edges. There comes an age when we are willing to try new ways, to abandon certainty in favour of uncertainty, flesh falls apart, like the sign.
Who’s afraid of red, yellow, blue?
The rules of the game learned from Art School go to the dogs, as we ourselves will before long. The ghosts of Scipio and Mafai become apparent, as does the competition with Carla Accardi, the other great Roman lady in Italian painting, so often accused (her painting) of being too aesthetically appealing, made to please the eye without a care for those who have imposed bad painting as the last frontier of the fight against fine arts!
So, Titina, still here Titina?
She weaves city cobwebs, or cities like cobwebs, unwittingly anticipating the net, the Net; the message of the paintings runs along overhead lines and tracks, dotted with round lights like street lamps in a fogless city.
Titina’s cities dim the lights in the 2000s, saving energy before they go out completely.
Titina is now asleep, her brushes spotless by the cleaning rag, the tram drivers waiting for the change of shift, the traffic lights flashing yellow, a man in a tailcoat approaching slowly…

Massimo Minini