Rossella BLUE 'New York & Venice (and Paris too!) a tribute during the pandemic'
Updated: Jan 10
Reflections on loved cities during the pandemic from the perspective of an artist who lives in New York and loves Venice (and Paris too!)
New York, December 2020
Cities are the centers of culture but the pandemic has decimated our cities beyond recognition. I can’t travel to my beloved Venice or hop on a plane to Paris but I can see the effects of COVID-19 on New York, the city where I live. A deserted theatre district; opera and concert halls closed indefinitely; art institutions and galleries permanently closed or if open, with limited programming; streets empty of tourists; residents who have left the city where they no longer have to work – all factors which make us wonder about the future of our dynamic cities and the future of culture in general.
But I remember the greatness of New York and the feeling of ‘If I can make it in New York, I can make it anywhere’, the ‘Take your breath away’ feeling every time I arrive in Venice and the sheer excitement of the city of lights, Paris.
VENICE and its ARCHITECTURE
Venice, December 2019
Not having a set program and finding many places closed due to a recent devastating acqua alta, my wife and I wondered aimlessly through the city. It was by pure chance that we passed by houses that had ended up in my 'number paintings'. These paintings consist of masked figures and the bas-relief and the matching street number found at that address.
If you visit Venice, you will still find these bas-reliefs except for this one. It was put up during Carnival 2006 and then it was removed. I found out later on that this house, number 1737, had been used as a mask making shop; hence, the ironic addition of the mask to the bas-relief.
VENICE, a jewel among cities
VENICE and its STONES
the new number paintings
In this painting the arrow indicates that at number 4468 - 4472 in Venice, there is a plaque on the pavement which gives a historical context to this address. The plaque reads: " Here lived Bartolomeo Meloni Born in 1900 Arrested as "politico" 4.10.1943 Deported Dachau Dead 9.7.1944
Since 1993, I have attended the Venice Carnival every year to get renewed inspiration but also because one can never take for granted that what is today, will be the same tomorrow. Well, this year the last two days of Carnevale were cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Italy. The last masked figure I saw in Piazza San Marco was holding a skull. Little did I know how relentlessnessly appropriate that image would be.
New York and its SKYSCRAPERS
The fluffy collars bring to mind the waves of the Hudson River and the tall conical hats remind me of the New York skyline.
MOSAICS and URBAN TILES
The Sicilian Influence
PARIS, Picasso and HARLEQUINS
Paris, January 2020
If the Venice Carnival up to then had been my major source of inspiration, I had found another muse. Bursting at the seams with creativity and inspiration after seeing the Francis Bacon show at Centre Pompidou and catching the Magical Paintings show at the Picasso Museum, I looked at Paris in a different light. Walking around the city, I found addresses with other bas-reliefs that I wanted to turn into my 'number paintings’. I saw these Parisian paintings inhabited by my Venetian masked figures.