Life Threads: ocean-inspired paintings by Giorgia Concato, in London show presented by Carola Syz Projects
By James Brewer
“I have always loved diving, ever since I was a little girl, ” says the artist Giorgia Concato, an aficionada of depths oceanic. “It is the small things you find underwater that are so fascinating: in just 10 sq cm you see so much life, algae, fish and so on. Where I dived, there used to be red coral and beautiful shells, although those are no longer there.”
Born in Rome, Giorgia Concato, who has for years lived in the north of Sardinia, says that those plunges into the Tyrrhenian Sea infused her approach to her artwork. When she was young, she would be out all day with her pet German shepherd dog in a canoe, springing in and out of the water. Her explorations beneath the waves were to yield the symbolism and symbioses that inform her studio technique.
A selection of her output is on display in the foyer and dining areas of the refurbished five-star Hotel Baglioni (a luxury establishment that boasts “an Italian heart”) in Kensington, until June 2 2016. In the exhibition, presented by Carola Syz Projects, the canvases are chosen to reflect her skill in lovingly turning found and observed objects into material for allusive composition. She is fascinated by the primordial elements, such as light and water, and sophistication is one of her hallmarks, but it is clear that quality does not have to rely on visual complication.
The artist creates organic structures in white or grey, but there is nothing dull about them. As the viewer walks past, the changing play of light, whether artificial or natural, casts change over the images. Such is particularly the case with Bubbles, which is acrylic on wood with metallic paint and silver leaf. “I like to use materials that help me obtain that effect because then the work is somehow alive, ” says Giorgia. The bubbles in an expanse of water point to a mysterious underwater landscape, where there is something hidden in the depths. “It could even be ancient ruins or remains, but still the root is something organic.”
Most of her works involve wood, and some use real sand. Equally, “I can be interested in things that are man-made: I like to recycle.” The circles in Bubbles are from the bases of cardboard boxes that were manufactured for cakes.
She takes seriously this care for the material world: in her studio she saves leftovers from her paintings and sculpture to take on new purpose, as the foundation for further pieces.
In Threads of Light (mixed media on wood) the effect is likened to a view of the sky, for when looking here at fibreglass, the light penetrates so that we can see the fibres. “We are immersed.” She includes paper and special fabric for theatre costumes, and natural cords. Such an assemblage can be repainted with grey, with water-based paint. Another work, in circular shape, bears the same title and is responsive too to changes of light.
Robber and plastic industrial rejects combined with string are set in a plexiglass receptacle to create a bottom-of-the sea atmosphere. Giorgia has thus again been inspired by underwater light and minute algae; she leaves this box Untitled.
Fountain is based on a parabolic structure like a TV satellite dish. Metallic pigment and fabric string is used to impart the notion of water and spray, as the fountain of life, for “water is one of the basics we need to live.”
Although the dominant colour in this exhibition is white, in her wider practice “I still use colour for some works, but I love to use white because to me it represents what is spiritual in all things, and the invisible in our material world. White makes that mystery stand out.
“We think we know a lot. Science investigated a lot but there is always a part that remains a mystery and no-one will be able to recover.”
This explains why the show is introduced with a quote from Albert Einstein: “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
Giorgia enjoys visiting London, for she studied fine art at Goldsmiths College and Chelsea School of Arts. She feels most at home, though, in the Costa Smeralda resort of Porto Cervo. This is a place known internationally for its yacht harbour and luxury residences which attract well-heeled tourists, but outside the season its origins re-emerge as a village with just a few hundred inhabitants… and wildlife in the vicinity including foraging boars!
Guests at the London private view included personalities from diplomatic, business and arts circles, especially from the Italian community. Among those appreciating Giorgia’s work was the Royal Academician, Ken Howard. His view of artistic expression chimes with that of Giorgia, for on his website he declares: “For me my main inspiration is light and it is through light that I want to celebrate my world.”
The exhibition Life Threads, paintings by Giorgia Concato, organised by Carola Syz Projects, is at Hotel Baglioni 60 Hyde Park Gate, London SW7, until June 2 2016.