Simona Weller
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Index   - Mario Ursino - 1991
- Filiberto Menna - 1968   - Angelo Capasso - 1995
- Marcello Venturoli - 1969   - Massimo Bignardi - 2000
- Enrico Crispolti - 1972   - Sandro Barbagallo - 2001
- Federica Di Castro - 1972   - Maria Teresa Benedetti - 2003
- Cesare Vivaldi - 1974   - Paolo Alei - 2005
- Marisa Volpi Orlandini - 1976   - Sandro Barbagallo - 2005
- Luigi Lambertini - 1977   - Alberto Veca - 2005
- Marisa Vescovo - 1978   - Fabio Benzi - 2006
- Elverio Maurizi - 1980   Weller Poems for Simona Weller
- Bruno Lorenzelli - 1981   - Cesare Vivaldi - 1970
- Enrico Cocuccioni - 1983   - Cesare Vivaldi - 1971
- Barbara Tosi - 1983   - Murilo Mendes - 1973
- Palma Bucarelli - 1984   - Cesare Vivaldi - 1974
- Paola Levi Montalcini - 1985   - Adriano Spatola - 1980
- Nanda Vigo - 1985   - Elio Pecora - 1989
- Lorenza Trucchi - 1988   - Ariodante Marianni - 1996
- Antonella Anedda - 1989    









Filippo Menna - 1968

Conversing with Simona Weller

F.M. - First of all, I would like to say that your recent works and the works from a few years ago are strongly consistent in terms of themes and language. The themes are recurrent, and this leads me to believe that you get your inspiration from a well defined environmental context.
S.W. - Of course I do. I in fact believe that living in a natural environment like the countryside, where I live and work, inspires and influences everything I do. It therefore becomes instinctive for me to express myself in a language related to the life cycle as I see it in the countryside: the animals that fight and devour each other to survive, the way they love, the way they die… My eye on nature also gives me a sense of contact with reality which, looked at with the right adjustments, is not very different from what we actually see and breathe in this world.
F.M. - So, what elements of nature are most frequently present on your image repertoire.
S.W. - There was a time in which I was into a pre-natal world made of growing larvae, roots, bulbs, seeds; then, in the following months, this world developed… For example, what excited me the most in the changing of seasons was to find, together with the first crumpled up leaves, the empty shells of snails and crabs, the nymphs or empty skins of the insects, snake sloughs like see-through cortex, or dead toads, dried up in the sun; and even some decomposing flowers looking like animals…
F.M. - Yes, I find that these factors perfectly correspond to the reality of your work, which I would classify within an idea of metamorphosis. In your works, images are never determined, never fixed into a finished and discrete form, but they take up forms that are always different, so I should probably say that your work lives in the idea of cycle: copulation, birth, death, rebirth, so there is, I think, a deep cultural mediation with roots in the far past, and that I would define of alchemic-esoteric nature. Not just violence and death but birth, a strong sense of the cycle of existence.
S.W. - Why not call it vitalism? This feeling life so deeply… I do not agree when you speak of metamorphosis, because I think this word implies a transformation from one form to another, whereas my research is based on an analysis of shapes that modify during their life cycle. I admit that something that's alive is so different from something that's dead to actually give the feeling of a total transformation, almost a metamorphosis. I would also like to object to another word you used (please excuse me): it's the word "alchemic-esoteric", which implies a concept for which I feel a certain suspiciousness and, though it may confer me a suggestive label, it is after all restrictive…
F.M. - I understand and partly share your suspiciousness for labels. It is a bit of a recurring dispute between critics and artists, who generally refuse to be caged in terms that are excessively "closed" and excessively "final": but, on the other hand, I would like to say, more in general, that we always speak within a frame of abstraction and by schemes, just because each word is by itself already a scheme which tries to confine reality in order to share it with others, to communicate.
Therefore, words never have a final character. They are just meant as indications, we shoot to see if we can catch what we are looking for…I agree with you about the fact that the word metamorphosis doesn't perfectly catch the sense of your work because what you are looking for (and you speak of vitalism, which is right, I think) is, rather, a way to develop a sort of organic matrix, in its undifferentiated state, from which anything can originate. Concerning the alchemic-esoteric character, I think that you shouldn't be too suspicious towards such a term because it is just a cultural mediation between you and nature. After all, any reality cannot be observed but through a cultural mediation which makes us part of a certain era, of a certain historical time.
This alchemic-esoteric root is deep rooted in the modern culture that gives origin to your works, i.e. a trend that I would call "organicistic", the trend that fed some of the poetics of surrealism which, from this, have then passed on to the informal domain: I am talking about all the poetics in which the natural element is observed in its undifferentiated matrix state.
In order to place your work in a more precise context, I believe it is appropriate to point out that these themes of death, violence, nature dissolution can take up a precise historical meaning, being the symbol of a wider and more general vital condition.


Naples, November 1968

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Marcello Venturoli - 1969


Simona Weller and the Secrets of Nature

Nowadays, the art situation in terms of techniques is very free, and the peculiarity of a way of painting is not as determining as it was some decades ago; I however believe that Simona Weller's painting should first of all be presented from a technical point of view: it is not essentially graphic work, because the artists uses pastels, oils and enamels in a very measured tone choice; it is not painting - at least if we consider the brush strokes, "placed" on the canvas in a more or less uniform stratification - because the precise encapsulation of shapes as hair signs on drooling white is a peculiarity of the drypoint; it is not etching, not just because each one of Simona Weller's works cannot be repeated, as a unique specimen of these lying prints, but because these charts or maps of nature's charm is conferred mostly by the emerging of a colour rather than by sign inventory, and colour and sign combine, constituting a work of its own.
In Simona Weller's previous exhibitions, I, Filiberto Menna and others already emphasized the artist's autonomous (and slightly counter-current) trend. By taking up forms of neo-liberty, Simona Weller contests informal irrationality; however, instead of turning over to a decorative path, she meditates on rural life and nature, on archaeology and fossils, with a lens-like imagination. The choice of the topics, the constantly stinging and alarmed climate in combining an item with another, or an item, link or explode is not a literary or merely convenient choice: in every detail of her world, we can feel the direct cross-reference to the model and to its environment, we feel that platform of naturalness of painted subjects which only artists who always live with these items have. And this is Simona Weller's case; she can enjoy the entire cycle of seasons from her country house, she can perform daily acknowledgements of the intact landscape, though with the cultivated and refined eye of a city person.
We can say that all the works of this unique painter reflect the amazement, which never became abandonment or, worse, habit, of those who are closely linked to nature, of those who, according to their own culture and imagination, must solve this relationship, which is so elementary in its formulation (nature-culture) and so difficult and risky to find, without having to distort one of the two terms.
In her previous exhibitions, Simona Weller has developed very precise themes and experiences: becoming fond of the evolution of nature as if it were a laboratory survey she had lost the data of, reconstructing it with strokes of imagination; combining fossil findings to pages of ornithology, entomology, anthropomorphic co-protagonist silhouettes. In this second phase (see the exhibition at Galleria Pater in Milan), the human figure indicates the need of a less occasional nature survey, a necessity to emphasize the stories told, putting them in a dialectic frame that is closer to man. This second experience may not have had satisfactory results (as it holds a misunderstanding between figuration and abstraction) but it definitely indicates a problem that gives rise to a survey. In the personal exhibition in Naples, presented by Filiberto Menna, the artist exposes a whole repertoire of approaches to the secrets of nature and matter (from a butterfly's wing, its ramifications, and from these the veins, entering the microscope) repeating her amazements into serial images, an artistic step she also used to focus on this other "agricultural instrument".
This last glorious phase has witnessed the need to not give the same importance to different eras, objects and animals, human things and nature things in a sort of compromise between love and amazement, instead conserving each item's value (as she did in the Naples exhibition) as a redeemed finding in the painting image, relating it to the presence of man, giving this presence a non unrealistic centre, no more in relation to an anthropomorphic way but in relation to a symbolic way.
We here randomly witness insects, roots, bulbs, bone shapes, frogs, seashells, tools, wheels; although, this random order is no more the main (or only) character of the picture; it rather tends to become its background, its scene, while the close up is that of something that is present and vital, useful and necessary to man, a harrow, a fire, as can be seen in the three paintings presented: "Cose del fuoco" ("Fire things"), "Nascita di un solco" ("Birth of a furrow"), "Cose dell'aria" ("Air things"). We already emphasized on the fact that, at the base of the culture and attitude of the artists, there isn't a mere tribute to unconscious in a more or less stated surrealistic way; the concreteness of the analysis, the way of assembling the objects rather trigger our imagination in hyperboles, without considering that surrealism has always had (as a document and never as a catharsis) a pessimistic foundation: in Weller's work instead (and especially in these last works) we feast a vitalistic tension, an authentic enthusiasm for the miracles of nature, in which human presence, its work, its efforts do not seem any less amazing.

Rome, December 1969

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Enrico Crispolti - 1972


Syllabise Reality

It is clearly important to underline that the work developed by Simona Weller in 1971 and 1972 is already in contrast with her earlier paintings, thus introducing in Rome a new writing-painting hypothesis that resembles Novelli's writing-painting, rather than the writing-image of Baruchello.
During the Fifities in Rome, Twombly and Novelli gave birth to the very interesting phenomenon of written-painting: this turned out to be a very unique and original event in the wider horizon of the figurative-writing hypotheses (i.e. Fahlström and Arakawa). In Twombly, this medium revealed a lyrical and autobiographical foundation, an evocative writing made of true conflicting and personal confessions; in Novelli, the medium was objectively dreamlike, including aurorean childish and mythological elements.
I feel that Simona Weller, in a playground made of an objective storytelling of its own kind, brings forth this very last aspect, almost intending to respell the primary aspects of reality. Her works are therefore not visionary, but rather narrative. Although her tales are above all "in potential", figuratively spelling the primary instruments of a possible told plot on daily relationships.
This is why the names and the imagined physical elements of the colours entirely occupy, colour by colour, some of her canvases; and this is why other canvases suggest the reiteration (almost a verification) of the name and of the object, an animal, of an elementary and primary aspect of nature (sea, tree, etc.).
In her most complex paintings, these figurative syllabifications and enumerations, just like a child's drawing, a child's figuring, and just like handwriting in a copybook, form an objective hypothesis for the recovery of a heavenly childish dimension but - and even more so- of a true primordial representation of the essence of figuration and therefore of "narrative description".
Maybe the true story will never be told, probably because it doesn't even relate, in its essence, to Simona Weller. However, her current involvement seems to be preparing speculation (or at least the possibility to speculate) on each element, looking the internal resonance, the particular arrays of a colour of a name, of a notion.

Rome, April 1972

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Enrico Crispolti - 1972


Risillabare la realtà

Forse non sarà improprio avvertire nel lavoro che Simona Weller ha realizzato nel '71 e nel '72, e che è nuovo rispetto alle immediate vicende della sua pittura precedente, un modo di riproporre a Roma un'ipotesi di scrittura-immagine nella maniera della pittura-scrittura di Novelli piuttosto che in quello della scrittura-immagine di Baruchello.
Con Twombly e con Novelli a Roma si è verificata in effetti una vicenda assai notevole di pittura scritta, dallo scorcio degli anni Cinquanta: una vicenda anche che risulta particolare e originale nel più ampio orizzonte di ipotesi appunto di scrittura figurante (da Fahlström ad Arakawa, per intenderci). E che ha un fondamento lirico, e autobiografico, declinato da Twombly in scrittura evocativa di tutta confessione, scontrosa e privata; da Novelli in un oggettivato onirismo, che includeva anche l'utilizzazione di mitologiche aurorali e infantili.
Ora la Weller, su un terreno a suo modo di oggettivato racconto, mi sembra che porti avanti proprio quest'ultimo aspetto, quasi intendendo risillabare da tale base gli aspetti primari della realtà. Non è dunque onirica, piuttosto è direttamente in certo modo narrativa. Anche se il suo racconto è in realtà soprattutto "in nuce", per ora inteso a sillabare figuralmente gli strumenti primari di un possibile svolgimento narrato del rapporto quotidiano.
Per questo i nomi e la fisicità immaginata dei colori occupano interamente, colore per colore alcune sue tele; e così altre suggeriscono la scansione iterativa (quasi accertativa) del nome di un oggetto, di un animale, di un aspetto elementare e primario della natura (mare, albero, ecc.).
Queste sillabazioni ed enumerazioni figurali, come il disegno infantile, e il figurare infantile, e la stessa scrittura da quaderno di scuola, nei dipinti più complessi forma appunto un'oggettivata ipotesi di recupero non tanto di una vera e propria dimensione aurorale e infantile, quanto di una condizione direi "a monte" del figurare, e appunto del figurare narrativamente.
Forse il racconto vero e proprio non verrà mai, perché probabilmente non interessa neppure, nel suo dipanarsi, la Weller. Comunque il suo attuale impegno mi sembra quello in certo modo di prepararlo - o almeno di prepararne la possibilità - speculando su ogni elemento, cercandone le interne risonanze, le gamme particolari, di un colore, di un nome, di una nozione.

Roma, Aprile 1972

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Federica Di Castro - 1972


Exiting Art Infancy

Painting as a means of knowledge. Knowledge of a small, intimate world that can be dilated to a universe. This is what Simona Weller's pages-pictures tell me. Knowledge is the opposite of decoration, but it can integrate it, comprehend it. The world studied by S. Weller is a world of childhood, the pages of a first grade book where handwriting is painting and image is a story, the story of a day, the excitement of a discovery in which sign and colour wonderfully coexist.
Every letter of the alphabet has a colour, just like it has a sound; every word is an image, every sheet has a "tone" determined by all these elements and an emotional echo. In this context, it seems to me that Simona Weller substantially differs from the other artists who, like her, chose to employ a written-painting technique- such as Novelli and Twombly- in that her interest for this very language is an attenuation of that world that uses that expressive medium, rather than being an attenuation of the medium itself. In this specific case, the world of a childhood that discovers its expressive mediums right when it which also discovers that these mediums can be controlled, tameable, but just a second before this happens. Because there is a childish language in unconscious - the language so deeply investigated by Klee-, a completely intuitive language filled with significant stratifications: the magical uncontrolled world close to limbo, to the buried civilizations which characterizes the drawings of two-three-four year old children.
Simona Weller's attention is instead very precise and it is focused on the moment in which we say farewell to limbo, to conquer the reason of knowledge; to reach, with time and after a long path, passing through a different side of that ancient world, that mystery of the source.
The discovery of the medium, the discovery of the language, of the reference points which are the same for everyone, the discovery of an unsuspected objectivity that belongs to us all: it is what the first pages of our childhood notebooks tell us when we look at them in amazement. Then the mediums become familiar and our time becomes a dispenser of mediums, of many mediums of expression and acquisition.
The artist's problem is the medium, meaning that the artist always fears lack of authenticity, he doesn't trust the medium, he almost cannot believe that that is his/her medium. Because languages are available to everyone and it is hard to recognize the one that really belongs to us.
Simona Weller's story hits the world of creativity in a very wide sense, it extends to the relationship between the artist and his/her language, more than between the artist and his/her work or between the artist and his/her public. It opens the way to thought about the relationships between the emotional world and the expressive world, it leads to considerations on the value of choice. Beyond the page of a notebook, where the image acquires an audible meaning and where it is filled with dramatic features and sweetness and anger and joy and seasons and light and day hours, beyond the childish freshness that Weller's painting gives us back, intact, there is a series of issues that penetrate the intimate but dilatable world of creativity, in its most tangled knot; the knot that prevents matter from entering the world of awareness; the most intense moment, the moment in which the artist steps out of the childhood of art.

Rome, April 1972

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Cesare Vivaldi - 1974


Simona Weller's Chromatic Variations

Simona Weller now has had a quite long painting history, considering that she has been exhibiting since 1959 with an evolution that brought her to refine her expressive mediums to the maximum; the sign-colour intended as writing, giving up -as time goes by- any foreign element that isn't relevant in her language: a language filled up with echoes and semantic relevance, soaked with lights and snows and dawns, but which only lives by itself and for itself and just is, in the analysis that the artist makes by using it, the only object and substance of the painting.
After her debut as a teenager, Simona Weller has for years carried out thin surveys in a neo-informal domain, whose aim was to especially study what I could define "chance's writings"; footsteps, traces, trails and their relationships with the primary elements (water, earth, air, fire) on which and in which they were written.
In 1970 and, more strongly, in 1971, her attention turned to the world of childhood, to handwriting and to childish drawing and it is since this very moment that her art definitely undertook the character of a very original written-painting, which can though be inserted (as I was noting back then and as stated by Enrico Crispolti in 1972 when he presented Simona Weller's exhibition in Rome) in the recent roman tradition of Twombly and Novelli.
The following step, dating back to 1973 and 1974, was the rejection of any pretext (the childhood world, indeed) which may deviate the artist's interest from a writing intended as a sign-chromatic "ductus" in which the ancient primary elements, drastically reduced to a simple light-matter dialectics, come back, transformed into "continuums" of words stubbornly spelled and respelled through new chromatic variations and new space-time inventions.
For Weller's current work we could certainly speak about "new painting", to use a terminology that is trendy and not exact, as it is applicable to too many heterogeneous personalities. Personally, I prefer to relate her original written-painting to that neo-informal area that is quite interestingly extending to the international level and which might also include Ryman himself, together with Twombly, not to speak of Dorazio's late works. An informal art (and please forgive the generic word used) seen with an informal eye that pays attention to the the problems that exclusively pertain to painting even technique, refusing the existential anguish and the exasperated egotism of "gesture".

Rome, October 1974

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Marisa Volpi Orlandini - 1976


Simona Weller and the Continuous Discovery of Pictorial Immagination

In Simona Weller's most recent paintings, which are horizontal canvases heavily impregnated with variations of colour on colour, a repeated rectangular tessera appears to structure the painting rhythmically. A structure that Simona refers to Mondrian in her dedications. Naturally it is the Mondrian who he passed from a realistic and expressive period to a more critical and thoughtful one; the period when he painted the woods at Oele, the windmills, the hats, and when he used the divisionist tache of fauve colour, as if a grid, or structure. This a process of disenchantment that Mondrian, mystic and idealist, will never stop, except in his noted abstract paintings of horizontally and vertically divided surfaces.
Various decades have passed from when abstract painting emerged and Simona Weller's experiences begin when the an already totally decodified situation. Her first starting point was the handwriting of children, and the poetry of a totally uncertain page, imitated in the pure desire to sketch typical of the child. After the transposition of the poetic in the visual, and the visual in the poetic, the painter arrives at a pictorially much more important phase, when her horizontal lines of handwriting impaginate a composition already gridded with vertical lines of regular paint drippings. The way in which Simona Weller paints is simple, but very articulated; she prepares the background of the canvas with tempera, then she traces her handwriting in crayon, and then for the lines which over-lay the work she uses a large brush to reinforce the visual horizontal theme.
The various phases: preparation, design, writing, daubing, dripping, then writing again are overlaid and merge together but in such a way as to leave the individual processes legible. The result is a "constructive" texture that belongs to the rhythmical tradition of the coloured paintings of Van Gogh's last period, or in those of Seurat, Monet, Dorazio - even more than the expressive graphics of the informal American school or of Twombly.
However, we have not, hitherto, referred to the lyrical motivation of this painter, who as a woman, confides in these with assurance. The relationship I-nature, I-unconscious, often excluded or left neglected, is instead chosen with enthusiasm by Weller. It is sufficient to think of titles like Turquoise vibrations on the word sea, Dawn, Grass-Homage to Seurat, Ochre variations on the word wave, where the words grass, dawn, sea, wave, have a magical character. In fact, communication is based on, not the word wave, but by the real sensation given by a wave or by the sea or by the dawn. The subtle play is between the title that announces a semantic origin in a literary sense, and the painting that alludes physically to Nature; a nature towards which the painter seems to be drawn with a passion. Nature and the countryside reveal their symbolic essence as other than themselves, the universe, the unknown, the unconscious, in infinite changes of colour, from beauty to desolation.
It is symptomatic that the aspect of abstract painting derived from the impressionism has been hidden by the puritanical intentions of historical avant-gardes, particularly by Constructionism, by the Bauhaus and its followers, who all tried to formulate the problem of modern style; and thus they tried in every way to eliminate the individual's relationship with his perception of himself and with the world. This relationship has become ever more embarrassing from the seventeenth century onwards.
The rules and teaching laid down, with great care, from the period of the intuitive discoveries of the impressionists, have relegated to the sidelines personal sensitivity that had been at the centre of the impressionist movement - suffice to think of the apotheosis of Monet. It is not entirely casual that this "individual relationship with oneself and art" has re-emerged in the last four or five years after various attempts to put it to the side. Polarisations of this romantic and "Schopenhauer like" feeling have been seen within the Informal Movement from Pollock to Burri, and obviously have never been disappeared.
However, it would now appear that the crisis of society has reached the point of releasing us from rational and constructive pressures, and the individual's relationship with his innermost feelings becomes completely free; free to make one's own codification language. This is found not only in painting, but also in any artistic performance.
In Simona Weller's painting Violet variations on the word sea, she is really declaring her act of faith in contact with nature, with the force that surrounds the individual and substantiates him.
Linguistically speaking, her personal culture is certainly related to the formal tradition of colour from the Post-impressionists to Dorazio (formal and not formalistic). On the other hand, the vibrant note that I find present and still vaguely seeking a solution is her romantic explicitation and thus a painting such as "Dawn", one of those which I prefer, makes me think of an allusion to certain landscapes of Friedrich. And it is in this female (and romantic) side of our modern culture that I find extraordinary in Simona Weller the continuing discover of herself in reflection and pictorial imagination.

Rome, February 1976

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Luigi Lambertini - 1977


Simona Weller: a Path Toward the Unconscious

We shouldn't get carried away by memories, by the amazement of the past. It might ruin the objectiveness of the story. When an image triggers the trap of memory, it immediately releases some sort of sympathy and personal participation. Nevertheless, as far as I am concerned, in Simona Weller's paintings I cannot do otherwise, and this goes beyond any critical issue and any thought on language, beyond any consideration on her work's position within our modern times, which are so uncertain, so dramatically tense and contradictory. I find myself fully involved, confused by different feelings. At first I was reluctant to confess it, but then, thinking about it, I realized that it was unfair to not tell, because what I was hiding would have immediately come out to the eyes of a careful reader. And that's not all.
We should, once for all, wonder whether or not it's appropriate to face things naturally and sincerely. Someone may though object that what Simona Weller's painting suggests to me is just the result of my private experience, of issues that belong to me only. Well, Sir, that may be true but only up to a certain point! And here, just for you, I have a thought that dates back to many years ago, but which is still very true. In an unfinished posthumous essay named "Philosophical Art", Baudelaire states that "every good sculpture, every good painting, every good music suggests the feelings and the thoughts it is meant to suggest".
Well, Simona Weller's work is soaked with a sea air, with the echoes of far away voices, not yet covered by the noises of a highway, but just scattered out like sudden kids' yells, disturbed by some call - a name shouted from a window- which then fades while refracting its own echo; then the backwash dominates again, re-launching, almost in flights, the salty taste, the smell of the nets, of the seashells and of the cuttlebones in the sun.
It is a return to an ever-present childhood- and we will later explain the concept-; a return to "now", today just like yesterday. And with this return, many more vibrations, suggestions, silences between the palm trees and the pine trees overlooking the sea, in the pathways of lime homes, between the deserted gardens of (apparently) isolated villas, and the waiting of youth, of a season in which everything - images, sounds, smells and encounters- tastes like a dreamt reality which must come true, which is the desire of something that is developing and growing within us.
And then the light which dazzles, splitting the palm trees' fans, falling on the stork's bills and stealing their perfume, on the agaves and on the rose-bay, maybe in a small slumbering train station… and it is not just a physical fact. It is much more than that, and very different. Nature thus becomes feeling and sense, sensation and happening; it becomes a character, just like each one of us is or was and, at the same time, it becomes a fair copy notebook on which we are about to write, watching that we do not fold the margins of the page and that we do not stain or smudge the last word.
It is childhood or youth, coming back with their fragrance, their naivety , their dreams and their dramas, though often very small. The hand runs slowly on the paper and word take up their own shape: sea (written with the rhythm of the waves); waves (the same way) and then grass, sky and much more.
A childhood that was lost just like paradise, a childhood that we take with us and that we look for. And it's not a game or an artifice. We must be clear, ready to catch the glimpses of memory of a second that isn't now, but which now emerges, recalled, evoked; looking within ourselves, transferring (with a simultaneity that is sense and feeling) today's reality in yesterday's reality by using some autobiography, just as much as necessary to write pages addressed to others as well.
Therefore, the enchantment of colour, page after page, seems to widen up, to catch us and contaminate us, it seems to make us part of a happening and of another and another, wrapping us up in a slight "spleen". A page therefore immediately changes to another by overlapping; the light filters through the colours in a slanted fashion and colour becomes light -though, actually, it was light already-; sign and word transform to reference points, to obstacles that are only apparent, and we immediately realize that they are catch and pause areas from which the eye can move to continue its path, to see what has already been seen and to recreate it once more.
Writing, sign and their value; a very unique value. Writing and sign, handwriting and short background made of brush strokes, which, one next to the other, are mystery and revelation in the expression of a world born of childhood and youth; they are colour, rhythm, cadenza, pause, overlapping, sequence, tone, voice and attenuation.
But all of this would be incomplete, or rather, it would be partial, if, in Simona Weller's work, we didn't consider- together with this courage of being in nature and in reality, translated not only into a pure call of atmospheres and colours- the contemporary implication and that kind of considerations on those instruments that culture has provided us with and that Simona managed to capture in her personal exploration. For the past, we have recalled the colours of the late Van Gogh and some Divisionist cadences (the recurring names are those of Seurat and Monet) and then we focused on the value of writing and sign, until we mentioned Twombly. Plus, when Weller composed her paintings with a series of dowels from which colour dripped, somebody mentioned the name of Mondrian, the dunes, nature's transition phase, the transition phase of reality towards its mystical invention of absolute and concrete equilibrium. And this is right, if we consider it with the due caution and without declutching.
I in fact do not believe that Simona Weller's reality can be restricted, without further explanation, within predefined limits; it cannot be, as we say today, "coded". Hers is mainly a human attitude, the attitude of a person that looks around consciously and with a critical eye, of a person who also considers what the past has brought to her, but especially of a person able to look inside herself. Her journey is therefore sentimental, but only up to a certain point. It is the result of a survey that allows something completely different to emerge. Her thoughts on the language of painting, on language and on painting and on painting as a language is, in other words, the element used to express herself and to existentially define her own reality and to come out of it at the same time.
It is therefore an introspection and a path within her unconscious, operated with aware attention, but also with slight participation. And that's not all.
If there is a handwritten sign that becomes something else while suggesting a word, which is in itself already image and vice versa, if there is a colour that once for its shades and another time for its tones lets us into a dimension that, though staying as it is, still bears the condition for becoming something else, if all this exists, then we have to highlight a simultaneity both on an aesthetic level as well as on a psychological level. It is a simultaneity that corresponds to a mirror, to the refraction of images and situations, it is a simultaneity that corresponds to a kaleidoscope that projects us into an iridescent game of pages that are quiet at one point and melancholically dreamy at some other point, dark at one point and ironic at another.
Pages that are though always revealing, mysterious and present.

Rome, January 1977

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Marisa Vescovo - 1978


The Sign-Symbol of Simona Weller

After the important inventions introduced by the historical avant-gardes, one must return to the humility of rediscovery, reducing the emphasis and communication between the minimal excesses of the current pictorial and situational grammar, to think about the linguistic elements involved and their use as construction elements. A woman artist, in particular, feels compelled to create different relationships with society, a way of giving order to gesture and to materials, and to the space to be filled.
Analysing the art system means to accept colour as an osmotic membrane underlining the autonomy and reality of the "whole" which, at the same time, is composed of the object and its surface, matter and chromatics, which occupy and integrate space, underlining the organisational rules of basic elements; it also means to underline the most simple linguistic elements, in order to analyse the creation as related to the work's system, which again should be perceived in its twofold nature relating to nature and culture. On the other hand, we -like Cassirer- are more and more aware that we are surrounded by a process of ever growing symbolisation. Our world is a universe made of signs and symbols in which every shape, word or gesture can be exemplified, allowing us to believe, above and below their pathways, that they are references to a behavioural pattern going beyond the work of art itself. The symbol's function is to clarify the need to understand things; it indicates a place, an event or even a pathway, a physical space and track, used during our daily encounters, before which we can observe the appearance of a phenomenon of apparent indifference or of emotional-repulsive motions.
These are the real reasons why we believe Simona Weller is searching to uncover, with the greatest concentration and the slightest effort, the fragments of the unexpected stratifications of images deposited in her own deepest being; a search whose pulsations and emotions are conjugated with feminine suffixes, almost as if this were to become the beginning of an affirmative discussion and a severely highlighted dialogue in which reality is acknowledged and rediscovery shown as if it were emerging from a forgotten, unresolved situation in the middle of unequal floating, volatile and contradictory signs. There is certainly an entry or a return - we don't know which - to a consistency of colour, memories, and dreams caught while they develop, all through the use of a series of symbols, of a happy and fecund naturalness that needs no interpretation or explanation but must just be there, to deny, again, an intimate and personal history of silences, denial, censorship, of absurd and alienating removal processes.
In Weller's most recent works there appears to be a clear, pressing need to clarify the elements seen in her previous works, in order to continue to live and meditate about the perception of a closed situation, so that the symbols moving across the canvasses with small scores, underscoring, weft and weaving, continuous and discontinuous, allow us to perceive a protracted explosion from the preceding nucleus of her writing, which disseminates itself and proceeds horizontally towards the abyss of an alchemic transmutation, wherein the viewer sees him/herself as an abbreviated vibrating, pictorial and graphical signal. Here is a creation somewhere between the diary-like impulse to write (using the physiology of the symbol itself) and a sign filled with chromatic vibrations but which, at the same time, is never abstract or automatic; an encounter marked by various levels of experience and analogies.
This decisive crossroad is found at this point of her work, on paper and on velvet. In fact, the sign used to control space narrates, as always, a pathway, and this sign appears to be a measurable element, instant, elementary, obsessive yet free, an emotional, innocent adventure as if born in infancy, yet bearing intellectual depth and vision. It is therefore essential to find a system in which emptiness and fullness can be arranged. The sign/symbol adopts a mechanism using continuous repetition, not as a finished gesture but as a variable tensor, moving and following emotional and rational behaviour patterns. In this way, the perceptive means is clear and one comprehends an operation where arrows are shot at absolute and symbolic values, above all tones, light, and colours, above and below, move in an optical play towards an intense and dynamic conquest of space where one sees the gradual alignment of a series of pins imitating the unending routines of daily life. The repeated use of this mentally controlled dripping is undertaken with no attention to the borders of the surface, and the dripping moves towards them, as if searching for a relationship between the work and what takes place in the area beyond it. The paper or velvet receive the simplest of signals; a dotted line from which minimal pulsations are underlined, together with imperceptible levels of sensitivity, thereby producing an operation in which sign and concept coincide and become the framework of a long descent into the unconscious, moving into remote memories in which hesitation and knowledge mix in a simultaneous movement of bergsonian length, continuing in the present and going towards the future.
The sign invades the surrounding space, confirming its continuation through time, not just as a straight line moving towards a central arrival point, but with a series of movements indicating repetitions, sliding, interruptions, always in a two dimensional state, soft yet thick. Everything is channelled towards an ever-changing transformation, richer, more complicated, dilated beyond any pre-planned structure and, therefore, far from the boring label usually given to optical art. The points proceeding in a never-ending series, are not part of a traced line representing pre-planned or pragmatically imposed gestures, but they appear to be the record of something living, moving or open to an afterwards. The keys for breaking the code of these messages are not given because we are dealing with symbols/signs, a series of symptoms that refer to something that is happening or that is being consumed in the motion of relativity -which is the only absolute we have left- as a possibility to be "here" and "now".
The instinctive automation of the gesture - where gesture is a means with intrinsic qualities of an organic nature, tied to subconscious- belongs to a humanistic culture whose roots developed way beneath the Italian tradition, that moves from tones to timbres and expresses itself in the gargoyles of a language given back in a signal-visual form, capable of receiving inspiration and breath from the sea, water, sunshine and from the clear air of a country morning.
Nature, celebrated in this way, is dissected into little pieces down to its simplest elements, in order to recreate syntax that lies at the origin of all semantic painting, interspersed with rhythms echoed in those often seen on the walls of the Ravenna basilicas. The colour impulses are always closely linked to writing, to the signs produced, while the use of white strengthens, like light, the neuralgic centres of the vibrating fabric. Luminosity arrives mysteriously on the opaque black of the background. The minute figures that appear, measured carefully by a hand that draws and an eye that guides, are no longer within space but become space and represent the last frontier of the Illusionism of Modern painting.
The point or dot therefore becomes chromatic quantity, capable of suggesting continuity, creating the fullness and the emptiness of a conscience; a consciousness that is not the opposite of unconscious, but which is capable of living with the conscious and unconscious at the same time, reality received in a visual blow up.
The most recent paintings by Weller are able to create themselves within the chromatics used, in a process that is in time capable of expressing the contradictions of painting, its meaningful actions, its history, which today, more than ever before, places us in front of the pulsations rising from a profound structure.
The artist, although never overcome by her private phantoms, has used a certain nocturnal element within her imagination, permitting a vision of her ongoing race towards the apex of her symbols - for example the Sea and the Wave, a liquid element, giver of life, therefore feminine-: both are typical of the European habitat, wherein they are traditional linguistic elements narrating themselves ambiguously, guided by a metaphor, to which we owe much, not only for the persistence of memories, but for its still unbroken and liberating aim.

Rome, January 1978

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Elverio Maurizi - 1980


Simona Weller: Painting with Words

"Painting with words" is for Simona Weller not merely an aphorism, it is, in fact, the exact explanation of how an intellectual situation is translated into reality; it is the cross reference to a series of backwashes which, apart from all the possible historical precedents (for example Apollinaire, Futurism, Dadaism) propose covert or indirect references by means of an almost symbiotic co-habitation of a series of words with the images they suggest. This kind of communication appears, therefore, to be somewhat ambiguous and provoking because it suggests a temporary relationship between two different dimensions - one verbal (and therefore synthetic) and the other figurative (and therefore analytic), in which however it is not necessarily the linguistic structure, which prevails upon the literary elements, involved.
Without referring to psychoanalytical myths (that in any case are typical of so much of this period's critical work), I believe that an analysis of this young painter's work must be attempted by means of a much simpler method - in other words, it is necessary to return to the moment when "words" and "painting" become "one" in her imagination and where her force of perception gives life to an original psychological germ, and transforms this into a basis for discussion and confrontation. One could even hypothesize that there is a direct connection between the darkest and deepest recesses of those half hidden ferments of the mind (memories long forgotten or an archaic childhood) of real attempts to rediscover a world where fantasy and reality are one.
At the same time, a purely historical approach (which I prefer) would appear to be indicated for a style of painting which, while describing ordinary and metaphorical themes, sees these quite clearly as essential emblems of "Being".
This research automatically leads us to an analysis of the artist's earlier investigations, that is to say of those vaguely surreal elements that have been constant in her work for many years and that follow the pathway traced by Ernst-Matta-Sutherland (pathway accurately described by Cesare Vivaldi1). In fact, Weller's re-elaboration of data from the real world into re-proposals by means of symbols and allusions, through syntheses and extrapolations, remains her unique constant, which today, too, seems to characterize her work.
The magical significance enclosed within her spelling of her pictorial language is the dominating factor of her work, covering everything with a nostalgic desire for simplicity, a desire that becomes slowly visible not just with one's imagination but in a more tangible way, in a way that catalyses the signs of Nature and marks the cycle of Life. If knowledge is the means whereby each man underlines - in a given historical moment - the problem of existence and of becoming, then Simona Weller, with a sympathetic method (sympathy used in the Greek sense, i.e. concord, harmony, or "to feel with") demonstrates how the mediation of her traced line does not resolve, sic et simpliciter, the need to illustrate totally the entire significance of one's art, but rather suggests the necessity to investigate the use and function of significance. The artist must therefore follow a practical and mental process in which - through more or less obvious semantic connections - text and imagery solicit the use of a language, which is closely tied to the most secret recesses, and motivations of his/her creativity.
When Federica Di Castro states that in these pictures "words" have been transformed into "a harmonic amalgam of rhythms, signs, signals, transcriptions, errors, and memory", or even more simply, into "a projection of the soul into canvas" she is, in effect, underlining how the reference points - orthographic or not - multiply their incidence and are capable of highlighting the sentimental and instinctive aspects of the work. Reflections from various cultural influences - ranging from post-impressionistic colours3 to systematic organisation of the contents4 and to a profound introspection5 attract the observer to an apparently romantic atmosphere in which the intensity of communication is conveyed by means of the subtle and penetrating balance between colours and lines.
Various urgent problems arise when we observe the recent production of this painter, not the least of these is that of the use of a compositional freedom which now appears in many aspects of her work; these are never incoherent in the eurhythmic development used and these aspects appear to determine the tempo of the reading and to solicit (as if this were essential) the pauses and reflections that arise from this. It is sufficient to understand how the warp and weave of her lines move, in order to understand the secret connections between her thoughts, the grammatical and syntactical notes, that network which forces the primeval elements into a free-play context within a continuum in space and time, fascinating and provocative at the same time.
A full -and occasionally solemn- breath emerges symmetrically with the growth and development of the colours on the canvas, and this breath moves them in different ways and forces them to impress a sinuous line, full of dramatic content.
Tommaso Trini6 is quite correct when he observes how Weller's "writing in colours" overlaps between the "horizontal rhythms of a speckled grid" and that this is necessary in order to exalt "the sensitive tones of her relationship with Nature". Nevertheless, I think it is important to point out how the use of the "lemma", transformed from concept into line, brings us to an harmonic destructuring of the word, which though will continue to exist as a loudspeaker for psychological vibrations, whose evocative powers leave the observer with a need to make considerations upon the multiple explicit and implicit implications contained in Weller's works.
I do not think that Weller's chromatic pulsations are declined in a "feminine way", as held by Marisa Vescovo7. If, however, with this "expression" she intended to imply a certain kind of sensitivity, a happy gracefulness of imagination, and an individual system of organisation that brings into the foreground the almost musical nature of Weller's paintings, and a similar "expression" to describe the transfer of certain intimate thoughts into intellectual expressions, thoughts and tensions which convey simple linguistic units with a feminine quality, then I could agree with the definition as such, because in this way Weller transfers an ideological and cultural privacy onto canvas, finalizing certain logical and iconoclastical connotations, whose verbal-visual representations are in fact the central core of her artistic discourse.
Ten years of painting, from 1970 to 1979, represent a long period that, at the same time, is quite sufficient to clarify the motivations that have guided this Roman born artist towards a continuous refinement of the instruments for her individual style of painting.
In Dieci Anni (Ten Years), painted in 1970, a hypothetical free space is left to develop in much the same way as a school copybook would, and is rich with transitional densities that change according to the unchangeable rules of a primordial systematic reasoning.
In Ciao, burattino (Hi, puppet) of 1971, the structure would appear to support a phoneme that is only slightly reinforced by a characterisation of the design that underlines the difference between reading and seeing.
In Con la parola erba (With the word grass) of 1972, thanks to a rhythmic superimposition of a series of letters, the writing space opens up a large figurative area, whose breadth clamours for visual independence. Again, in Tessitura per la parola erba (Weaving with the word grass) distinctive tracts would appear to be necessary in order to underline the subordinate personality of the written word in relation to the "de-semantication" of words. Here, the progressively mutual inter-relationships of the linguistic and the pictorial codes become complementary to each other within the central theme of intellectual contents. In canvasses such as Un campo di grano con volo di corvi (A wheat field with flying crows) the graphics used would appear to be all absorbing were it not for the fact that the words are almost completely disarticulated and from this "decompositional" style a process of communication is born. The same phenomenon is found in other works of this period, and the following years, where the linguistic space, (apparently overtaken by the disappearance of the words) would still appear to be the essential structure. This structure is created with the use of paint-smudges, and the rhythm between these facilitates the vision of a multitude of chromatic tones and of the disintegration of colour to create meaningful refrains whose meaning would otherwise stay hidden.
Tessere un mare viola (To weave a Violet Sea) transforms the text into real graphic warps and weaves and demonstrates that the technique used to "decompose" is as important as the composition of the writing itself.
This present analysis would be incomplete without an observation on the developments discovered in later works. Of particular interest is Parole controluce (Words against the light) a mixed technique in collage and tempera on paper (1979), and part of the even larger work Diario al muro (Diary on the wall) in which certain almost plastic elements are involved.
Un colore per ogni ora (A colour for every Hour), also from 1979, uses pigment as a graphic element, in imitation of language that goes beyond conventionality in the use of line and sign and is a rather conceptual research carried to extremes, whose and echoes are also found in Quando in Primavera (When in Spring) or in the two pastel and tempera works (also from 1979) Vento nell'erba (Wind in the Grass) and Fuoco nell'erba (Fire in the Grass).
The most interesting discoveries are to be found in the artists most recent work; for example in L'abolizione della realtà (Abolition of Reality) because of the pleasant interchange of artistic enunciations and of the nostalgic quality assumed by the painting, a reality that forces the observer to think about the physical nature of intention which has developed from the original reality of a mental process.
In describing her recent research in a recent letter8, Simona Weller talks of the "return of figurative elements", of "readable letters alternated with undeciphered words", of "threads of images that grow into words", and of "words that change into threads of imagination", of "a sort of coded cipher of the unconscious mind", whose archetypes are attracted by "great paintings" and by "great poetry". It is not easy to decipher the ambiguity hidden in these works, but it would appear legitimate to ask ourselves if any critical knowledge could define the limits of any system, reducing creativity to a mere longing for things of the past, to suggestions for how one could read, to the necessary interpretation of a poetry which goes beyond simple appearance, to observe and understand not only the architectonic or compositional values but, above all, an the musical and pictorial possibilities.
Roland Barthes10 writes that "an image on its own does not by itself invent imagination, but imagination cannot be described without that image, even if it's a small and lonely image".
In her extrapolations, Simona Weller uses a grammar made up of elementary signs and colours, which gives the due support to an eloquent and see-through way of communicating, whose ductility brings to life the formality required in a painting and, even more than that, shows us a personal style of writing that seems to bridge the gap between painting and literature. As Oscar Wilde observed in the preface to The Portrait of Dorian Gray the chosen are those "to whom beautiful things mean only beauty".
For those of us who, like you and me, were born in more tragic times, these "beautiful things" have assumed an existential importance, a final, extreme vision of the "art-life" principle, - i.e. a fact that binds together illusion and reality. Instead, for the young Roman painter, "these things" are a luminous affirmation, a liberating analysis, a personal contribution to life in this society.

Macerata, May 1980

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Bruno Lorenzelli - 1981


Conversing with Simona Weller

B.L. - As a born and bred Roman artist, how do you explain the fact that most of Italian critical writing is centred on Rome?
S.W. - That is a question I have often been asked in Milan, and with malice aforethought I think. The people who ask the question may know the answer already and they may be looking for confirmation of their love-hate feelings about Rome. The idea that needs confirmation is that we are all dissatisfied with the behaviour of the critical establishment, and we are all dissatisfied whit the political establishment. And since the political and the critical establishments both live and work in the same city, there must be some connection between the two. Of course there is, it is obvious, but some people may like to hear it again. A well-known politician remarked that "power wears down those who don't have it", and that might serve as the motto of the Roman critics. Everything Milan thinks about Rome is true. It is true that Rome is corrupt, that culture is run by under-secretaries, that there is greed and historical short-sightedness. It is true that the critics are bureaucrats, careerists, and paranoids. Lea Vergine said that "in Rome gossip becomes scandal", and I think she is right.
B.L. - How do you explain the "love" that this "whorish" city evokes?
S.W. - I think it is latent in everyone who lives "outside" Rome, and it may have ancient roots in a collective unconscious that includes both the Roman Empire and the caricature of that empire created by Fascism. And then, this damned city is damned beautiful, full of colour, imagination, joie de vivre, people of every race... you see... every sort of thing happens here, every day, it's as if we were always in a state of shock. But those vivid green Mediterranean pines outlined against a fine cloudless sky... they're not just "what I see from my studio window"; they're a consoling image of a visual culture that I am part of... After Balla, after Severini, after Boccioni, after Mafai and Raphaël, after Caporossi, Dorazio and Accardi… Why don't you ask me why even De Chirico came back to Rome to die?
B.L. - If this city is so seductive after all, why are you Roman artists so worried about the success of the younger generation of painters? Can they "lay on the paint" better than you do?
S.W. - If they knew how to "lay on the paint" better, as you put it, then I think we would clench our teeth and humbly watch them take their places in the arena… But to go back to the short-sightedness of the critics in Rome, which is where it all starts, they take over the media as if they were launching a new brand of soap; there hasn't been anything like it in the past twenty years. The trouble is that they are inflating personalities that don't have enough breath to climb the stairs home… Do you remember the fashion for being "political"? The same that happened in public schools in 1968, (with prizes going for mediocrity, crudeness, and lack of ability) is now happening to the art world too… But there is a substantial difference. While indiscriminate acculturation was "political", the recruiting of mediocre artists to create a "new situation" seems like a plague. Once again it is the "monsters" that make the news.
B.L. - If the atmosphere in Rome is degraded, if there is no market for art, and if intelligent and attentive criticism is lacking, how can artists live there, and how can they work?
S.W. - Sometimes I think we're either giants or masochists. Even though the Rome National Gallery of Modern Art does not have any important De Chirico or any important Futurist paintings, there are many in New York and many people go to look at them. And I think that these midgets who are trying to pass off their grotesque impotence (like vaudeville comics) as serious, creative artistic work will get their just deserts from history (although museums teach us that no trace of them will remain). They will get what they deserve, like all the nameless "turds" who have always pretended they never knew who was living just upstairs… and it might have been Balla.
B.L. - And you?
S.W. - You may laugh, but I reserve the right to paint well, to be free to explore beauty as much as I like, without accusing fingers pointed at me, the way they do in Italy.

Milan, March 1981

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Enrico Cocuccioni - 1983


Conversing with Simona Weller

E.C. - It seems to me that your present work represents a moment of synthesis and survey. Maybe we are getting close to a turning-point…
S.W. - Yes, right now I am actually using all my symbols. "Mine", because I take them from my unconscious, from my experiences, from my culture. This exhibition is called "A sign is the specimen spoken", from a phrase by Gertrude Stein, writer and theorist of cubism. Other sentences of hers also inspired the paintings' titles. These sentences seem evocative, magical, perfect for that I want to paint: "called, each thing shivers a bit…".
E.C. - Do you agree about the turning-point part?
S.W. - Certainly, I am conscious that "I sought, and now I have found" and I like it that you mentioned synthesis. I feel that my work, which is so dense and rich with quotations, is like a river (just like a painting, just like life) in which I have learned to swim. But, as Picasso used to say, I consider painting as a self-therapy; so I would say that I do it especially for myself. Of course, it can also help others by releasing particular echoes or identification possibilities; and this obviously makes me happy. Just like a writer is happy to touch the reader's sensitivity, it excites me to add an eye to another person's sensitivity.
E.C. - Do you think you have reached a creative maturity?
S.W. - I hope so; I believe that a painter's maturity is revealed when his/her control of the human and pictorial mediums becomes one with "creation" (which does not have anything to do with the more general term "creativity").
E.C. - So you believe there is a difference between creativity and creation?
S.W. - Perhaps they are just as different as the critic and the artist... Anyone who uses imagination and talent, intuition and curiosity to enrich his/her life and to love his/her work can be considered creative. The creation process is instead a very, very long and patient search, similar to scientific research, which can proceed by steps, revolutions, inventions, but which only becomes "useful" if it manages to make an apparently dried up branch blossom again, or if it generates a new tree from a little scion. And by tree, I metaphorically mean the great oak named Art, which survives since centuries.
E.C. - Is it then possible to find a critical criterion to diversify expression in general from art in particular?
S.W. - We could probably come very close to this if we tried to identify the various phases of the very delicate process that leads to creation. For instance, think of how natural it is to consider inspiration the process's first phase! I agree with Severini who says that "we must be ready, in order to receive inspiration!". Behind inspiration lies a clot of data, facts, information, a decantation of emotions which only spring out at a certain moment. And this moment is already a second phase, while a third phase could be that imponderable gear which, maybe for an association of ideas, makes you predict the exact result in the composition of a work (which in fact could never be any different from what it is...). A fourth phase certainly concerns the courage -or the need- to compare the work with the outside world, in order to expose the results to others... And we can even point out a fifth phase, which concerns the sphere of feelings; because we need a firmness, a tenaciousness, a strength that are not common, to believe in our work in spite of the trends, of the cultural terrorism, of the obedience to the power and (let's say it, at least once!) despite the fact of being a woman.
E.C. - Speaking of trends, today we can observe a triumph of a sort of "painting pornography"; what is your opinion about this pressing overlapping of the Image over a less gaudy horizontal dimension, which is though more critical and constructive?
S.W. - I think that the artistic event can contain various coexisting factors, even though we continuously witness a sectarian separatist attitude -be it because of commercial strategies or due to political events- which certainly does not favour a fertile circulation of ideas. However, even the most different tendencies have often gone along parallel lines. Also, history has demonstrated that conformists have often auto-sponged themselves out, while the more original personalities have managed to prove themselves right; and not even with so much delay... Abnormal phenomena like the one you called Pornography of Image are the logical consequence of the abuse of "trends and fashion". No one has yet had the courage to say that yawning can lead to jaw dislocation, therefore, for the moment, we can just keep the monsters we deserve....

*******

S.W. - Why do you think that my work contains an optimistic and positive component "in spite of all"?
E.C. - Firstly, I still feel that your work contains a constructive effort, a structural tension that, at least partly, is aligned to the operational line of modern art, whose linguistic models and experimental aesthetics seem today to be going through a crisis. You yourself evoked the crisis of project and of ideology, when you spoke about a phase that is no more based on "research" but which instead expressly refers to Picasso's "I don't seek, I find" concept. Furthermore, because the idea of "self-therapy" allows you to find a new centre, to reach a synthesis, to self-motivate the work… "in spite of all" - i.e. despite the despairing problems concerning the relationship between the artist and society. That, fortunately still allows you to create and confine a living-space, which is certainly not a conflict-free place for escapisms; it is a space where it's always possible to find the anchorage points of a positive attitude.
S.W. - In light of your research on my work, do you think there is a reaction to that "painting pornography" we talked about earlier?
E.C. - E.C. - I think so. More than a reaction, I'd say that I can sense a need to make room for a different equilibrium -certainly not a precarious, illusory or ordinary equilibrium but rather, perhaps, a more complicated balance than those which are today going through the crisis- between the expressive immediateness and intellectual mediation, between the pathos of gesture and the breath of more "stable" forms and, more in general, between memory, imagination and every day reality.
S.W. - Today, the critic aims at avoiding the obstacle of expressing explicit opinions. But don't you think that -if there must be a dialogue between artists and critic-, the critics should also expose themselves?
E.C. - Certainly, but we must make a distinction between the critic's evasion - a common diplomatic expedient- and the authentic necessity to express articulated and complicated opinions. Dialogue requires careful listening and a reciprocal breadth of views. It seems clear to me that there already is a dialogue between us. I am not just saying this because I respect my job: the relationship between a critic and an artist also involves mutual intellectual respect, human attraction and even a bit of "experience". And I think that all these factors are all tightly correlated. A correlation which, in this case, is particularly fertile and rich with meanings. I'd say that it is mainly the critic who grows rich and who gets the most profit and pleasure from dialogue with the work of the artist. In my opinion, your work's pathway doesn't suggest a simple explanation, a straight line. It does not follow a formula, an explicit method, a premeditated and servile coherence. However, I find it very consistent. This questions the ideological myth of research, of the project, of mechanical linguistic evolutionism. But this also confers a certain relativity to those theoretical models which explain everything in terms of rupture, of a mere caesura or catastrophe. And what if the latter were really the path that art is about to take?

Rome, April 1983

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Barbara Tosi - 1983


A Sign is the Spoken Exemplar

The artist's universe is always a place of infinite and moving presences. In the same way, Simona Weller's universe is populated of art's memories, of literature, of characters, of paintings and images.
If on the one hand this articulate and vivid world leaves an indelible sign of its passing, on the other hand it is thwarted by the artist's creativity which absorbs it in favour of a unique and original production. In Weller's works, we can recognize the same elements found in Braque's world, such as "waltz", patches of material, hand painted mimetic wallpaper. These elements are more than just a memory; they are a real and true statement, witnessing the artist's cultural and visual background. Recalling historical parts of images in the pictures - without influencing the work in its original spirit- only becomes possible when the work is already firmly developed.
Apprenticeship of experience is the road taken by the artist to reach her aim and to immediately abandon it once she has fulfilled it. In this dense pathway of discoveries, of sudden turn-backs designed to quickly step forward in the path to her ideal canvas -which stretches and unrolls, pressed by the paint-brush's coups- the images compose the logical thread of her own process.
The hedged unintelligible, lonely words have lived in Simona Weller's pictures for a long time, until they began stretching and loosening up to lose their actual shape and to be reduced to the essentiality of a secret writing made of signs and colours.
While the artist writes things that only rarely become words, her pictorial translation is refined and light, not devoid of a polite irony. It is here that "A sign is the specimen spoken". Words now come out, all together, in a paradoxically mute shouting; these words with no voice then become colour and dart through every corner of the picture.
The title of the pictures plays gaily and ironically and if, on one hand, they are the effect of the Gertrude Stein's able pen, on the other hand they are the result of Simona Weller's wise harvest.
So the "Ode to a lady's eyebrows" ("Ode alle ciglia di una signora") acts as a counterpoint and confirmation to the idea that "A place is not a new table" ("Un posto non è un tavolo nuovo"), while everybody knows that "A piece of coffee doesn't make you lose time" ("Un pezzo di caffè non fa perdere tempo"), while we can state, not without a certain circumspection, that "In a white belt all the shadows are unique" ("In una cintura Bianca tutte le ombre sono singolari"); and all this leaves space both for educational works "How painting is written" ("Come è scritta la pittura") and to the wise options "Choose large soles and small quarrels" ("Scegli suole grandi e pochi litigi"), etc...
Quite a serious game, which slightly deposits to confirm the uncountable possibilities of ineffable female qualities. Although a distinction between female art or male art doesn't exist, what does exist are the distinct qualities of the feminine and the masculine sides, which come out of the paintings regardless of the artist's actual gender.
Like a projection of the most secret intimacy, in their shapes and in their colours the pictures reveal much more than that they actually show: a new soul, which belongs to them only, and the effect of the interlacing of very diverse elements.
In the sometimes chaotic (but always intense) feminine storytelling of the last ten years, words piled up one over another until this brought to silence; at the same time, thought continuously fermented. In the same way, Simona Weller's pictorial speech materializes, condenses on the picture as natural chromatic pastes and shapes, which come out of a wise and conscious paint-brush.
In the acute and prehensile flowing of glance, every informed eye will be able, in this exhibition, to catch a glimpse of the artist's painting-path.

Rome, January 1983

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Palma Bucarelli - 1984


The World Through Simona Weller's Sensitivity

Writing is Simona Weller's starting point, but the composition is not developed in the usual manner. The words crumble and come apart, they turn into commas, waves and strokes, often forming stratifications. The words lose their original meaning while taking on a new one, a purely visual meaning which leads to an almost visual type of poetry; they interweave, yet never going back to the previous meaning but leaning towards another, almost geometric kind of organization. For a certain period, Weller approaches Cubism and a certain kind of purism, in search for the "golden section". For another period, she gets involved post in Impressionism, painting a series of pictures inspired by Seurat's Grande Jatte, though using a flat and fragmented image. While the things depicted maintain a trace of naturalism, they are flattened out as if on a written page. There are some slightly ironic and scenographic themes which recall Severini, though they are constantly broken up and fragmented in order to provide an explanation for their being part of this internal structure. There are many reminiscences, a deposit of memories and experiences of life and culture and a constant outpouring of images. Sometimes luminous and sometimes opaque, the images approach one another, they intersect, and overlap one over the other, in search of a compositional structure that almost always settles down logically and plausibly in the end. And all of this is filtered by intelligence and erudition complementing each other but never too openly losing concentration. Ultimately, it is the artist's sense, or rather her sensitivity, masked by an intellectual finesse, that is unmistakably displayed to a greater or less extent.
If we try to analyze or separate a detail, it may look like a troubled sea with tiny foaming waves, or it might be part of a face or a mask or a stylized animal, or a house. But when we look at it as a whole, we can find logical connections between these details, whose background is always the written language, word. Thus the images, too, become fragments of things and fragments of words that stand for those very things. Simona takes her own world of long-pondered images and collects and selects those that emerge and seem to express her thoughts best. It is just so many images and nothing more that she puts on her canvas to compose a balanced whole, which is what gives that sense of completeness to the picture. There is never anything superfluous, however packed the painting may look, nor is there anything less than what is necessary.
The paintings that are closest to the cubist image contain typical elements of that school, but they also have elements created by the artist. There are collages made of fragments of music paper, wallpaper, bits of banisters, lines, and broken and intersecting geometrical forms. But the artist rejects Cubism's fourth dimension and, sometimes, even its third dimension. Everything is flattened, like on a written page, and this is always the ultimate aim of Simona Weller's intent. In an interview she gave some time ago, she spoke of inspiration. To borrow a phrase by Severini, to whom she seems to be related by way of Braque, "you have to be ready to receive". Yet, I don't think one can speak of inspiration in Weller's case. It is just that the things she has seen and experienced, the cultural baggage she has accumulated and the facts of life are filtered through her special way of interpreting things; they accumulate over a period of time, and then the moment comes when the artist feels impelled to put them on canvas. This is the magic moment that many people refer to as inspiration. But I know artists who never feel this experience. They sit at their easels in the morning and work all day like good craftsmen at their trade. Which doesn't mean that they can't do excellent work, even without inspiration!
The world, as filtered through Simona Weller's sensitivity, is composed of an infinite number of motifs, just like the real world we live in. The images are countless and constantly shifting while they are ultimately interchangeable as well. This has nothing to do with the unconscious, as Simona Weller remarked in the interview mentioned above. There is nothing in her painting that is not controlled or sifted by thought. Nor is it a matter of automatic writing or visual poetry: words are so shattered in her pictures, that they take on a totally different meaning. The artist admits to include quotations in her painting, but they are so mixed with dismembered fleeting words that they acquire a whole new meaning and presence. Simona Weller has a strong sense of image structure, which is why everything that looks unstable and fluctuating unfailingly ends up coming together in a solid, precise, concise whole that leaves no space to chance, taking up the form of a finished and even rigorously "closed" picture. The conflicts that take place in the artist's spirit, and in her world made of cultural forms, are ultimately resolved in a single "whole", albeit a "whole" imposed by the artist's will, which though gives the observer every chance for personal digression and interpretation.
Sometimes, her painting softens up and becomes more human, so to speak. Her writing is then just confined to a brief portion of space at the top, almost resembling a signature; the written word becomes more like painting, and the objects - lemons, a basket, piano keys and a book (for the ambiguity that marks Weller's painting)- are meant to be more transparent according to post Impressionist tradition, almost reminiscent of a Bonnard or a Vuillard, so to speak, as in the picture Lemons, Basket, and a Quiver... (the quivers in Simona Weller are few and far between).
Another interesting thing worth mentioning in this artist is that there is no apparent or explicit development. She has set out her world of images, and she never strays, though she may vary it. This reflects her profound belief, and this by itself justifies her vocation as an artist and her rare integrity in keeping faith with her inner life and with her life as an artist.

Calcata, March 1984

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Paola Levi Montalcini - 1985


The "Invented" Works by Simona Weller

If is true, as has been written, that there is a delicate relationship between the lines of the horizon and the melodic lines of folk songs, such as to render almost linear and without variation the songs of seaside towns; while the variations of the low and higher regions represent the songs of the hill regions, and the melodic line is completely transformed in the high mountains, by means of pauses and the alternation of deep low notes and disturbing high ones, as if to become closely identified with the high rocky profiles of the projecting peaks hewn out against the clear sky; there is a suggestion of a parallel between the world of poetry and that of a visual language. The last work "constructed" by Simona Weller appears to offer the key to her too exposed language so as not to hide the intense "veiled" content. It is that of a strong personality, significant in effect, synthesis and poetry, the clarity of a panorama expressed through an almost unchanging continuity on the level of "writing" and extremely varied through the "melodic" range of solar and lunar colours. The horizon of the last work to which I refer is traversed for the entire length proposed by the painter by a horizontal line-plane that is not expressed geometrically and is such as to communicate a series of disturbing motifs and contents. One knows that the horizontal line is the line of death. But on the level of visual language that line may also be the division distinguishing the earth from the sky, it may suggest all the possible variations of an endless range of alternatives. Simonapast has been a continual concealment in an ambiguity of a mental, highly pictorial countryside for which only one other name comes to mind - that of a great artist: Seurat.

Roma, July 1985

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Nanda Vigo - 1985


Dressing the Word with Material Painting

…speaking of your work and simplifying the analectic processes of surreal and mnemonic phases. We have known each other since the seventies, with a long friendship begun in Calice, punctuated by your stay at Finalborgo and by the exhibitions at Punto's and Rotelli's. The first works were interwoven with childlike handwriting and from its casualness and your "following the lines", rather than the carrying out of a literary language. It seems to me that precisely this "following the lines" within other meanings has encouraged you to use the written sign as a weft or warp to "write" your paintings, and these are the works that interest me most, even though, in that period, this kind of painting seemed strange while the rest of us were re-working well known materials, and objects and not on a square surface. Today I look at your pictorial insistence with greater pleasure; certainly not because your works have been revalued by the shrewd censors of analects, but because your work demonstrates that creating a picture - today - doesn't necessarily mean that one must seek for inspiration in techniques unknown in every avant-garde from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, and that you can exclude anything which is emblematic, comforting, securely extrovert, "POST".
I remember how, in 1972, you came with Cesare Vivaldi to my wedding as witnesses (you wore an enormous special wedding hat) and how we talked at length of the social problem of the non-admission of women's work to the world of the visual arts, thus in 1976 you succeeded in putting together (I mean you tirelessly collected and edited) all this information. "Il complesso di Michelangelo" (The Michelangelo Complex), with which I disagreed only about the title. Because, for Goodness' sake, to create art is not a complex, but a necessity that should not make distinctions between the sexes. Even if, certainly, a woman may have a family complex, an organisation to which she has been bound by age-old traditions. All of this, however, has not prevented you from painting good pictures and I trust you will continue in the future, going well beyond the retrograde habits imposed upon us by the delirious imprisonment of habit; rather, you should try to embrace the poetry that the sensitivity of your BEING can exalt but never debase! Greetings Simona, and every best wish for your work.

Milan, July 1985

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Lorenza Trucchi - 1988


The Ever Changing Light-Color Extension of the Sea

Since more than a century ago, the theory of Surface has taken over the idea of Perspective; but it is only beginning with Seurat, and even more so with Cézanne, that this theory has evolved into the concept of a continuous open space to be described by means of a particular painting technique, or through straightforward communication. This concept of immediate participation, that transforms space into an echo of time itself, has been brought forward by Giacomo Balla.
It was in 1912, in Düsseldorf, where he had gone to decorate a house for his friends (the Lowensteins) that Giacomo Balla began his "irridescent compenetration", based on a series of chromatic triangular shaped implants. These abstract works, which for the painter represented - above all - a study on the fractioning of light, (meant as energy in movement), are precocious examples of serial art. An art, serial in design, gesture and image, that anticipated the chromatic textures, adopted to a great extent by today's artists.
In Simona Weller's recent works, the influence of the great futurist painter is clearly evident.
In his compenetration, Balla had studied the reflections of light on the surface of a lake and, in her own way, Simona Weller has chosen, as an inspirational motive, the myriad reflections of light and colour on the sea - to the point where she has made it an allegory of her own art; I think - she has written - of my painting pictures, one after another, as a wave that is pushed by the wind to form and reform itself. The sea remains where it is, like art, like painting, always prepared for change, but at the same time unchanging.
Weller began her non-figurative experience with painting-writing. Among her most important inspirational words are sea, grass, wheat. Words whose meaning is linked to the idea of an ever constant dimension yet ever changing space. Writing, for Simona, meant doing, creating and, in its repetitiveness, it had assumed a ritual meaning, embracing on intensely desired and beloved Nature; then, little by little, the graphic lines were neutralized by closed and even smudges and, from 1985 onwards, they were cancelled by small flashes of pure colour.
These new, enthralling emotions and textures -described by Weller in a series of rhythmical cadences creating underlying depths of feeling- propose their lyrical messages through impulsive dazzling, arresting colours which are clearly defined, reminding us of the eternal glories of the Mediterranean sun.

Rome, March 1988

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Antonella Anedda - 1989


The Waves' Maker

A minute figure with aqua eyes: Simona Weller has a fragile grace. But nothing in her expression, in her gestures, or in her kind voice ever suggests weakness. What she says, speaking of herself, is clear and reticent at the same time, half way between the temptation of memory and the necessity of running away from it. The small studio in Trastevere (Rome) where we meet for the first time, "doesn't contain anything that is mine", she immediately states. Her first remarks about her own art sound like a prelude of what will find its accomplishment days later in Calcata. There, we will stand in front of a huge lake painting, made with small translucent aquatic tesserae, perfect in a room flooded with the green light of the surrounding hills.
Travels, nature, maternity, writing - these are the main coordinates of Simona Weller's life and art.
"I started traveling when I was very young", she says, "in far away countries like Thailand, when it wasn't fashionable yet. All of a sudden, I went from the quiet and protected college life to the adventure of open, uncomfortable, even dangerous places. I still remember the ship leaving Naples, bound for unknown waters".
The journey and the separation validate her vocation as a painter. Being free and not having to suffer the judgments (and the influence) of teachers and colleagues allowed Simona Weller to "retrace" what she had learned from books in the actual world, such as, for example, a deeper understanding, mind and soul, Gaugin...
"I used to paint frantically during the journey, taking notes and trying to capture what I saw and felt".
By listening to her, we realize how significant this experience must have been for a nineteen year old woman, wanting to "test herself" elsewhere, as a foreigner in a foreign country. "Those were very important years and, in order to understand my future developments one must understand the importance of those times. Many of my current themes had their origin in those years. The shapes with which I work, developed in those spaces as well".
These statements are enforced by the pictures of the "Cycle of the Sea": foam, nocturnal waves and a kind of blue that doesn't evoke ice, evoking instead the warmth of oriental waters. We catch the gesture, ample and slow. We get a proof of the importance of the thickness of thought in this type of art, which is nearly a stratification of the idea on canvas, as stated by Palma Bucarelli.
Early youth has therefore been the basis, the plane on which Simona has erected her real and metaphorical "homes". There have been the weddings and the children, the Umbrian country house where she painted for years, dedicating her days to her pictures and to her kids. There has been another important journey in Egypt, where she discovered the desert, the silence of colour-non-colour, the importance and the beauty of writing, of sign on canvas.
Life and art aren't incompatible then?
"No, they aren't. I think my work proves it. Everything I have experienced is there, where I painted. The enriching, beautiful, but -for a while- painful experience of maternity is deep rooted in my blackboards, in the chalks and childish sentences. The time spent in the country has given me the possibility to physically feel the earth, the growth of the plants, the alternating seasons". Simona's words "transform" concretely into the works she shows me. Looking at the works hanging on her walls, I understand her love for Seurat's technique, her fervent relationship with the air's vibrations. In a big painting of 1974 - long purple waves emerging from a dark net - I experience what she said (and wrote) on the intensity of her relationship with the sea. The title of a 1985 exhibition quotes a line from a poem by Dylan Thomas: "No wave can comb the sea". "It is a fragment", writes Simona, "that has been poking my soul for months". In the words of the text and in the shapes of the pictures, the sea becomes a metaphor for a never appeased painting in a permanent and inexhaustible transformation.
Those who know Dylan Thomas will remember his declaration: "I let an image grow emotionally within myself and (...) then I let it generate another one, that will contradict the first".
This same dialectical freedom, the conscious, declared swinging between substance and concept, are the leading elements of Simona Weller's world.
If no wave can comb the sea, no picture can "comb", can order and define painting.
Art is a sea that swallows and gives back, that creates and destroys.
"I think that my painting one picture after another, is like a wave that forms and re-forms itself, driven by the wind", she says.
Waves are therefore the authentic and in some way unique "figures" of this pictorial and poetic universe.
No wonder then, if the name Weller means "wave-maker" in German and if waves, as in one of Handke's characters, identify with the core of her research.

Rome, September 1989

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Mario Ursino - 1991


The Restless Painting of Simona Weller

"If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear; If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee; A wave to pant beneath thy power…"
Ode to the West Wind P.B. Shelley

The unique fusion of aesthetic and metaphorical values characterizing Simona Weller's work reveals itself throughout her entire remarkable production, stratified though long years of researching.
There is always an impulse (a push, a wave, as her name suggests: Weller means wave-maker) beyond the composition and the constructive order of her pictures. These gradually form and define themselves when that existential emotion is appeased by the use of colours and materials inside and outside the canvas, through and around the frame. Every piece of work is therefore a fragment of this existence, a metaphor of life, meant as correspondence between nature and art.
The tendency towards a type of painting expresses itself as an emotional movement, as a continuous impulse coming from one's deepest being; this can be seen since the artist's very first works, which date back to the mid-sixties and which are inspired by a strongly metamorphic surrealism which recalls the Max Ernst of the Forties. A surrealism encouraged by the continuous and fluctuating sign, that we find in other surrealists of the same period -such as Bellmer of Tanguy- and a also a very automatic one, according to Masson's and Miro's lessons. This graphic sign, powerful, coloured, luminous, will soon transform into the painting-writing of the Seventies; a dense wave-like writing that already contains the large canvases of the future. A sign-writing that will characterize her mature and very personal style, until the most recent works. The sign-writing, the word as colour, tache, the filled canvas, constitute the artist's method to formulate a poetic diary through images that sum up the daily experience. A memory, a game with a cultural filter (never too heavy) provided by the avant-garde and neo-avant-garde movements: from Mondrian to Klee to Cy Twombly (see I due fratelli nell'estate del 1969).
In the subsequent works, the writing is overwhelmed by colour: strong post-impressionist influences (especially Seurat) will induce Simona Weller to fill the canvas with layers and bands of colour of different luminosities, so that the architecture of the pictures is defined by different degrees of light, still maintaining the written pattern, continuous from left to right (see Vibrazione viola sulla parola mare or Vibrazione rosa sulla parola alba, where the leit-motiv, the word, is so absorbed by the colour-sign that it is almost unrecognizable at first glance, and the feeling of this evocation-repetition comes true in the totality of the pictorial and metaphorical field). It is "a subtle game" as Marisa Volpi Orlandini has acutely observed " between the title, revealing her semantics in a literary sense, and a type of painting physically alluding to nature, at which the artist seems to hurl herself with all her passion".
A vital jump, I would say, in a Bergsonian sense of the word, a force of a first solar impression, that the artist draws from the instinctive relationship between the idea of the sea and a concrete pictorial formalism.
That's why the word gradually disappears and the graphic sign that it had contained survives only as movement (wave). The colour, which is allusive, psychological, repetitive, existential, becomes a being into painting, as in Capogrossi, Accardi, Sanfilippo, Dorazio (see Controluce di parole).
But The continuum of Simona Weller feeds itself with further composing elements inferred with the great vivacity of the cubist and metaphysical themes which surface in her canvases. One could say, brought about by the wave of abstract formal colour associations restored by time and personal memories. In her inexhaustible research, the influence of futuristic dynamism - and in particular that of the abstract Balla - never seems absent.
The flying flashing forms of a painting of the great futurist master, Insidie di guerra (1915) become the creative modules of her most recent works, many of which are enriched by the use of thicker materials (overlapping of cardboard, cloth, glue, skilfully treated paper that is dried in the open air, in the summer heat of the countryside).
Simona Weller is so immersed in painting, and in the idea of renewing painting, that it's not possible to find a formula for her, a definition that will contain her overflowing and disturbed (but not disturbing) activity. Very recent works such as Mare-Amaro, Il segno barocco del fuoco (1990) testify, with their formal and emotional impact, a type of art that keeps expanding the traditional borders of perception, while reflecting the movements of the artist's soul.

Rome, October 1991

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Angelo Capasso - 1995


Shipwrecked with Spectator

Waves, sea, wind; Simon Weller's cosmos can be reduced to two elements. Weller's work suggests a disequilibrium manifested in cracks, fissures and holes, which presage a progressive crash (pulverization) about to reach its apex. The current phase of the artist, after the elaboration of her early 1980s experiments on Cubism, Automatism and pointillism, has finally reached the total dissolution of the sign in favor of concrete matter. Her last "Happy Shipwrecks" exhibit distant echoes of those early studies retraceable only on paper's margins and on canvases, torn and pulled up, gathered in the new compositions on fragile wooden architectures. Simona Weller moves away from painting and follows her instinct to carve lines and create waves - waves which are even evoked in her pseudonym (Weller in German is a form of citation derived from wellen, which means to undulate) and scattered in space as residues of her mental shipwrecks.
The first signs of the most recent developments appear already in the research that the artist elaborated in the mid 80s through her writing exercises. The written word in those works is never a mere sign, a graphic form. Incised on the border like a pointed knife, the line of every word from Weller's iconographic glossary - where terms such Sea (mare), dawn (alba), ocean (oceano) are recurrent - disappear in its very silhouette as if absorbed by shadow.
The work is about a study on the border-contour, which retains the polysemic nature of the word as sign and significance, sound and sense. Then, more distant echoes appear, echoes which do not originate directly from painting, but from literature. The un-violable white candor of Mallarmé, the emptiness and silence of T. S. Eliot, "the waves" of memory of Virginia Woolf (to which Mario Praz refers as to an example of literary pointillism). The literary overflow, witnessed by the continuous reference to the shipwreck tradition of Ungaretti and Dylan Thomas, allows a certain verticality and self-absorption in language and consciousness which appear in the unexpected, in possible and fascinating Freudian interpretations.
Sea (mare) in psychoanalysis magma is the reflective mirror for mother (madre) as a reality in its metaphoric version - the parallel is even more evident in the French terms mer, mère. Weller's artistic universe depicts the peculiarity of a dialogue between creation and generation, art and nature.
In the exhibition organized at the Granarone in Calcata this large cosmos in continuous transformation is visible in all its clarity. The shipwreck is abandonment, a defeat by nature and chaos. In common language, this might have moral connotations - "a Season in Hell" in which one is in search for the art's malignant spirit, the threshold between life and death. "Death by Water" writes Eliot. Otherwise it is regeneration. Yet regeneration not in the sense of reconstructing a perfectly harmonious Cosmos, but rather leaving a visible wound, namely the difference that art experience invokes.

Rome, November, 1995

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Massimo Bignardi - 2000


Writing for Simona Weller

Anybody with a trained eye would move beyond the mere chronological list of Simona Weller's artistic experiences to concentrate on the artist's continuous oscillation between narrative tension, intrinsic in the writer, and that tension related to the emotional nature of form and color. The first is directly implied in the well consolidated creative background of the artist, namely her writer status, which makes her a refined and attentive narrator. Weller's bibliographic production includes
Il complesso di Michelangelo, a book which appeared in 1976; the more recent Ritratto di Angelica and Una rosa nel cuore, dedicated to the fascinating figure of Suzanne Valadon in the Montmartre scene. Her narration is subordinated to a certain analytic rigor addressed to the reader's gaze-the inner eye's capacity to critically observe (like the painter) the world around. Such type of beholding is induced by the visual experience as witnessed in the biography about Angelica Kauffman. These are precious advice for a possible access into an imaginative suggestion which transforms writing into graphic form. Following the ideal, subtly traced in this exhibition, the graphic form conveys its "cohabitation" with writing and becomes more intense when the line is synthesized in the repeated sign of the wave. Such geometric synthesis implies an evocation of a game of voids and solids, of concave and convex forms; in other words, without too many metaphoric preambles, it evokes a sensuality imbued in the natural order. According to Kandinskij, in the world of painting a graphic form holds, beside its autonomous value, a relative element born out of its connection with the chromatic form. The latter is the key which combines the two moments (autonomy and relativity) and brings together Simona Weller's recent experiences. Weller's mid 1970s works, produced in the general dominating climate of American conceptual art, are inspired, though in a chromatic form, by Van Gogh and Seurat's color. The path of this exhibition begins with the works inspired by Seurat. The large canvas Talatta Talatta of 1978 fully explains the artist's choices, emphasizing both the emotional values of color, related to the symbolist atmospheres of the French painter's canvases (according to Filiberto Menna the beginning of modern art analytic line), and the re-evaluation of the tache or spot as a unity of a graphic code (graphic form) reflected in the lyric titles: Caro Seurat, aspettando un pomeriggio di domenica per tornare all'isola. In this high quality painting Weller seems to observe Seurat, through the Diviosionism of Balla's Elisa al Pincio. Other works in this selected anthology correspond exactly to this time in which the artist discovers her authentic narrative style. Small works, solicited by hidden naturalistic images proposed in the guise of details from post- impressionist art works with taches, become graphic forms (as drawing and project) and chromatic forms (symbolic evidence). Weller insists on the latter type of form clearing the pictorial field from any figural reference. The idea of banishing any possible referentiality is a choice, which denotes a desire to push the pictorial dictate to the registers intrinsic in lyric abstraction, partially present in those works where writing is given as synthesis of sign and color, or articulated through the reordering of superimposed paper stripes. In this sense one should take in consideration works like Controluce di parole, Nessuna onda può whose formal organization recalls the works exhibited a few years ago in Ravello. The effort here is to provide chromatic form with two compositional values: an absolute one and a relative one recalling, in full autonomy, what had been argued by Kandinskij. The absolute value emerges from the combination of bright colors, almost always in their pure states, providing rhythm to the flickering light effects with minor tonal passages. Such process simultaneously models the surface and circumscribes the field of attention finally focusing on certain details of the work.
This type of choice evokes a narrator who aims at constructing a tale in which he-she meets characters and objects closely. This is the essence of mental and emotional states epitomized as testimonies of our meeting with "reality": dictates understood as manifestations of our consciousness. Although in the last works by Weller it is difficult to exemplify a relative value, this is, in some way, expressed by the color-silhouette. In certain works, like the two ovals made for this exhibition, the geometric partition of the silhouette is an expression of a temporary analysis of the imaginative dictate. The latter seems to have been solicited by an interest imbued with a naturalist matrix. Such origins induce the artist to schematize the symmetric movement of sea waves, its instability, frozen and synthesized by the continuous references to a silhouette which recalls the moon quarters - a form inspired by the great canvases C'è una casa e l'amore, i figli e il fuoco, gli amici… The reproduction of this last image concludes the catalogue of the 1989 Narni exhibition. This perception is a provisional location anchored at a renewed desire to observe the visible realm, addressing, in the geometric partition, the stimuli offered by certain works dated from the end of the 70s such as Socchiudi gli occhi e guarda… an image distantly interpreted by a writing-sign which evokes Van Gogh and with him the wind of passions. The same passions animate the pages dedicated to Kauffmann, in which transpires a subtle autobiographic profile: a tale which follows a plot and a web of parallel stories, where the passions, which have animated the desire to gaze beyond the eye barriers, come back.

Salerno, December 2000

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Sandro Barbagallo - 2001


In Search for the Lost Sign

When, only nineteen years old, Simona Weller enters the Italian art scene, the controversy between abstractionism and representation is raging. The young Neo-Dada of Piazza del Popolo have come out, while in the United States Pop Art is widely popular. When Simona visits the exhibitions, she gets confused by the vitality of Guttuso and, on the other hand, by the informal non-representation of matter. Among the women artists, Simona Weller loves Maselli, she is intrigued by Fioroni and she does not understand Carla Accardi. She does not identify with the artists the authoritative "Paese sera" writes about, but she is sure she will become a painter herself.
After a classical education she attends the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, to legitimate her path in front of her family and maybe in front of herself. She needs this path to take possession of all the techniques, from clay-moulding to etching, from fresco to the great Italian tradition of egg-painting. She needs this path to have a chance to draw live everyday and to then fly away, towards distant lands. The chance is a UNESCO scholarship for a country in the far East: Siam. Destiny or instinct, Simona looks for her own path by travelling, long before those young people who, in ten years' time, will have the myth of India. Like all the first, great travels, hers as well prove a sort of initiation. Being in touch with other worlds, religions and civilizations, the Italian culture's disputes, the art-system's intrigues now seem small and wretched.
During her adolescence she feeds herself with travel accounts, is charmed by Gauguin's exoticism and considers Galileo Chini an important artist whose lesson she will rediscover in the landscapes of Thailand. In this period, she dreams and lives like a young explorer from Rimbaud and Verlaine's time. She still has not focused the fact that she is a woman. And a pioneer.
The thing that strikes her most over there, are the details of that indecipherable writing. Cuneiform characters and ideograms whose secret harmony Simona senses (and records as something that could be used one day). Down there, everything looks wonderful: the sea, the rivers, the rice-fields, the jungle, the dead cities. People's clothes, the iridescent colour of the fabrics, the bronze glare on the women's skin, the violent smells. I linger over these years of Simona's youth because I think that, from this experience, she got the life-long originality of her research and a strong feeling of identity.
Coming back from each of her long travels (in Thailand, Egypt, Spain) Simona keeps on studying at the Academy, until she graduates. She studied with Ferrazzi, Mafai and Maccari who did their best to convey her disenchantment and scepticism for a life she dreams dedicated to the art.
Suddenly, she understands that being a woman is a discriminating factor (she must constantly pretend not to hear the list of clichés poured out by whoever she meets). When, seemingly, everybody tries to discourage her, she defies destiny once again: she gets married, has two children and self-exiles in the countryside of Umbria to paint, she says, far from worldly temptations.
Of course her solitude, her contact with the nature and her maternity deeply affect her work. Her painting frees itself from the academic and folk remains and begins to express her own independent world. Her technique improves and gets sharper. In this period ( 1965 - 1970 ) she uses enamels and inks on precious papers. Rice-papers (Chinese or Japanese) or canvas prepared like walls. On these surfaces appear insects, fossils, wild berries drawn with an entomologist's precision and with Klee's poetry.
Every time Simona leaves her retreat, she visits the great exhibitions and gets the attention of some critics. She has already started inserting in her paintings - though shyly - sentences, verses, writings inspired by the Latin inscriptions you see on Roman ruins. Her natural-surrealistic ( as the first critics called it ) world is still connected to the cycle of life, to the metamorphosis of the things that sprout just below - or immediately up - the earth.
Meanwhile, in the art world, anything goes. In 1962, the Biennial exhibition in Venice definitely launched the Pop Art and, together with this new trend, it launched an artist Simona will truly admire: Louise Nevelson. Then the trends will follow one another: Kinetic art, Op art… A committed Neo-representation goes on ( commitment expressed for example by inserting the silhouette of an American soldier in Vietnam watching landscapes and hyper-realistic still-lives ). The first sado-maso fantasies and happenings of the body-art begin.
- It took a lot of moral strength and self-confidence not to let the inclusion-exclusion game touch you. The important exhibitions were, even then, the monopoly of a few critics and it wasn't easy to enter the "system" staying true to yourself… Just think that we used to say, as a joke: Tom? Oh… he still paints with a brush!
In this state of mind, in the beginning of the seventies, Simona faces a personal revolution. She gets divorced, goes back to Rome and starts teaching painting techniques as an assistant to Giulio Turcato. In the same time she lives with the poet and critic Cesare Vivaldi. As the world surrounding her changes, her painting starts anew. These are the years she finds out again that a painting can be filled with signs and words, not only colour. In the beginning, it's just black surfaces she traces on signs imitating the graffiti on the walls or on the blackboards, powerfully expressing her unconscious but also her dreams as an unhappy child. Simona says that, among the paintings that moved her the most during her first visit to Paris (1971) there was one of Picabia - not exactly a painting - covered by the signings and the sentences of his friends.
From the blackboards, the painter moves to the copybook pages, where the children's sign alternates with the intervention of a hypothetical teacher. The first critics who wrote about this cycle were - of course - Vivaldi, then Enrico Crispolti and Murilo Mendes. In 1973 she's invited to the Tenth Quadriennial exhibition in Rome, in the non-representational section. She had already exhibited in Remo Pastori's gallery "Il punto" in Turin and in Calice Ligure, winning the attention of some important Turinese art collectors. She was nominated for the Bolaffi prize by Giuliano Briganti, who was apparently hit by her showroom at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome.
Now her black works, a sort of trompe-l'oeil of blackboards, alternate with big, coloured canvas where a word traced countless times, stratify forming a weaving, a texture. The frequent trips to Paris and the impact with the Impressionists hit her deeply. To trace the key-word ( grass, sea, dawn, corn etc.) the artist uses an oil pastel. The colours follow the technique of pointillism so the texture is never flat and, watched from a distance, it conveys an extraordinary effect of depth. Simona Weller has therefore reached what she was looking for: to define a mental landscape through an apparently non-semantic word that, filling the surface of the canvas, becomes itself a painting. After such achievement, any of her colleagues would have stopped. But the pressure of the market (these years she starts her business with the art dealers) leads her to a renewal, to grow and achieve new goals.
Though belonging to no group, Weller could be historicized in the area of a lyrical abstractionism or better of a written painting (therefore of a non-representation of sign); on the contrary, she's been by force inserted in the current of visual poetry. Not accidentally in fact, she will participate to several exhibitions organized by Mirella Bentivoglio for this trend. This mistake will be repeated by Nello Ponente who, in the great exhibition "Lines of the artistic research in the last twenty years" in 1980 at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, will place Weller in the visual poetry section. For these exhibitions Simona uses rigorously black or white works, avoiding all decorations, disliked by the visual poets. But this forced insertion shall not put the artist at ease, because she does not accept the definition and cannot give up her colour painting. A painting that, in time, changes through rubbings and drippings. Until, after a conceptual study on Seurat's work she extracts, undo and recreates details from "La Grande Jatte" and starts working on the tache. Colour stains that rub or give a rhythm to the writing below. In fact, while in the beginning of the seventies her writing stratifies on itself, now ( 1978 ) it becomes a structure that gives a solidity to her work.
In 1978, Lorenza Trucchi invites Weller to Palazzo delle Esposizioni for the "Art-Research" exhibition. This allows her to make the proceeding clear, setting in a room both the details from Seurat, painted on long horizontal stripes and two big works dedicated to the sea: the first is solar and diurnal, the second lunar and nocturnal. The showroom is called: "Paraphrasing Seurat, a Sunday afternoon on the… Tiberine island".
The message is ironic , but also provocative for some critics who promote a representation "at all costs" and will comment: "We understand but don't share it".
This act of faith in a painting more and more diminished by the trends will be awarded that year with an invitation to the Biennial in Venice, in the "From page to space" exhibition, held at Magazzini del Sale. In this occasion Simona Weller will create square modules ( cm 50x50 ) as a wall - journal that follows all the steps of her written painting.
With that invitation Weller ends a cycle of her research.
One day, in her studio in via Margutta, 48 ( where three quarters of post war Italian art passed ) she's gluing fragments of old tempera of hers. She cuts the stripes of painting she thinks are good and glues them on some background she painted: grass or sea, as usual. The relief and up-to-light effect is so interesting that it will become the basis for her coming research. She actually affirms that her painting has always been growing on itself. In the first part of the eighties her research takes a new interesting turn, after her participation to an exhibition organized by Flavio Caroli and Luciano Caramel at Rotonda della Besana in Milan - "Textual: words and images" (the first and the last) about the phenomenon of painting-writing through the centuries. The eighties closed with her retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Macerata, where director Elverio Maurizi invites her and writes for her a good essay.
The first twenty years of her artistic history have seen Simona busy on all fronts. She published a fundamental essay on the Italian female artists in the 20th century, entered feminist circles and participated to international shows of female artists. In the spring of 1976 she lived a few months in New York, where she met important artists (though far from her own trend) like Marcia Hafif, Robert Morris, Simone Forti. She also met the great art manager Leo Castelli who suggested her to settle in Soho, to look for a loft and to become a part of New York school. For this brilliant future Simona should leave Italy, her two children and her beloved partner, her job as a teacher, extraordinary friends and the culture she belongs to. A humanistic, European, maybe decadent culture, but her own. The brief American experience confirms the quality of her research and makes her identity stronger. You can't confuse the art market with art, she says. In this decade Simona meets and makes friends with some of the "great old ones" of Italian art: from Giuseppe Capogrossi to Giorgio de Chirico, from Nino Corpora to Giulio Turcato, from Toti Scialoja to Alberto Burri, from Afro Basaldella to Mauro Reggiani. To write the essay "Michelangelo's complex" she also meets Edita Broglio and Antonietta Raphäel, Carla Accardi, Titina Maselli, Adriana Pincherle, the Levi Montalcini sisters and many more. Through the tales and memories of all those artists, her "romantic" belief grows stronger.
Moreover, every year from 1970 to 1980, from June to September she works in Liguria, in the triangle Finale Ligure-Calice-Albisola, where she meets Andy Warhol, who's writing his autobiography while hosted by the Swiss art manager Janneret. In those restless Ligurian summers, Simona starts working on ceramics, also participating in an international exhibition at Villa Faraggiana in Albisola. She will complete this research working for short periods and up till now in the factories of Deruta.
In time, the excessive flow of the writing that fills the space of the canvas like an obsessive horror vacui, becomes a web the creativity of the artist feels trapped in.
After the study on Seurat she passes to the space in Cubism. From Braque, Picasso, Severini, she isolates details she mixes up with fragments of her own life and parts of her old works. This is the origin of a series of big panels on set-designing material that express the suggestion of a historical avant-garde she absorbed and reinvented, surely in a more mature and personal way than the clumsy cubist influence affecting the artists during the fifties. Also her titles were inspired by Gertrud Stein's writings ("Ode to the eyelashes of a Lady") while the critical text was written by Palma Bucarelli and translated in Dutch and German for a travelling exhibition from Rome to Ferrara and from Amsterdam to Berlin, whose title will be another quotation from Stein: "A sign is the specimen spoken". This is therefore an educated, deftly executed painting. Anyway, in this cycle, too, black works appear, reminding us of the old blackboards. I think Simona stops writing in the paintings at a new turn of her private life. In this period the artist writes books, articles, essays. The writing is back on the page, so the painting can receive something else.
The invitation to 1986 the Quadriennial exhibition allows Weller to go a step further. Her sign, or its fragment, turns into a wave-like macro-module. Actually, these signs are but fragments of words. The superficial observer, ignoring those passages, reads in those signs a link with Balla's "flag-wavings". I have always rejected this association because I think that, in Weller's paintings, the linearity of the writing stays alive, from left to right. From now on, Simona's painting goes through a highly experimental phase, during which she uses different materials, reaching its peak in the nineties. Here are relief paintings, visible frames, cuttings. As if the canvas and what's represented on it had to bear the fury of the elements, fire, water and wind. The "Happy shipwrecks" cycle is born, inspired by those popular verses by Ungaretti: "And he immediately goes back to his traveling, after the shipwreck, the old sea dog…".
A more than symbolic sentence that reflects the attitude of the artist towards her life and her art.
Following Weller's history year by year, analysing her tight relationship with the art and documenting on her rich bibliography, I realized I had a great responsibility and a privilege. I had the chance to draw some conclusions about an artist who, through the years, found an independent and recognizable identity of her own, in spite of all cultural terrorism.
What Marisa Volpi wrote in 1976 is still worthy (Galleria San Fedele-Milano): "… The subtle game is between the title announcing its semantic in a literary way and the painting, physically implying the nature… A nature and a landscape revealing their symbolic essence as something else, universe, unknown, unconscious, endlessly changing, from beauty to desolation…" but, above all, I agree with Volpi writing: "It's indicative that this aspect of Abstractionism, derived by Impressionism, has been concealed by the puritan intentions of historical avant-gardes, like Constructivism, like Bauhaus and its derivations, who wanted to state the problem of a modern style and tried all means to eliminate the individual relationship with self and world perception".
And individual perception is the fulcrum that best characterizes Weller's long research, whose language, staying in touch with formal colour tradition (from Seurat to Balla to Dorazio) lately manages to astonish us, with unpredictable expressive solutions. Solutions not only connected to paint or canvas, but also to recycled materials (carton and used wood). The work executed on clay moulding by the artist, whose sign becomes matter, deserves a speech apart… But this is another introduction.
In this exhibition at Giraldi Gallery (not accidentally, Bruno Giraldi has been one of Simona Weller's first admirers), forty years of intense and rich work are represented and, though being widely historicized, they can get a further and definitive recognition. Because, as a journalist wrote for her retrospective exhibition "The colour of time" (Narni, 1989), Simona Weller is surely the most important and representative artist of her generation.

Roma, June 2001

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Maria Teresa Benedetti - 2003


Letters from an Italian Painter to Vincent Van Gogh

"We are such a small thing and, to become a ring in the chain of the artists, we have to pay a high price in terms of youth, health, freedom", states Van Gogh in a letter dating 10th May 1890. To this symbolic ring is bound a suggestive side of the artistic work of Simona Weller who, for long and more than once, has kept a tight dialogue with the writings of this great Dutchman.
A relationship with a history of its own. During the seventies, her painting-writing was very close to the bristling and the fury of her imaginary interlocutor, joined through the quotation of isolated words, cried on the surface of the canvas and associated to a sign at times violent, accepted, denied, deleted that crushed the rhythm of the path. Nowadays, her painted page is the tale of a quieter meditation, crossed by an involuntary harmony, even though full of a repressed restlessness, connected to the reduced fever we can find in some of Van Gogh's writings, where communication gets more intensely internal.
The painter tenaciously pursues a self-excavation, stimulated by the enlightenment offered by some emblematic sparks, received without a clear order, in a ceaseless flow. She works slowly, tracing a sign full of chromatic vibrations, repeating the action in a dowsing research for a communication with the rhythms of that extraordinary, bare sensitivity. She adheres to the aspects that better represent the truth of a state of mind, reflecting them with the characteristics of a dream and the will of her fantasy.
Just like the word in Van Gogh, her sign shows longings, desires, fury, tearing - all projected in a space where the unconscious turns to be far more poetical than conscious life. That's not the sign of a psychic escape but the will to record this spontaneous, ceaseless flow on the way of an initiation.
The dynamics of the action reflect that feeling of intense motion animating the Van Goghian universe; the iterative, sometimes circular structure of the sign seems to recall the constant repetition, in the letters of the Dutchman, of terms like "unite", "to link", "to tie", "to bring near", "to embrace". A repetitiveness in which the elements integrate, get mixed up and overlap endlessly. A microcosm is born that eludes all decorative attitude and concentrates, through a few elements, the vital motion in a controllable space. The signs then alternate with small episodes that induce the imagination to narrate a tale.
As the weaving gets complicated, the artist turns back to the burning side of Van Gogh's personality, recalling the vortex that sweeps the canvas with the movement of a brush; back to the breaking lines, so similar to a furious yet tender wave, that implies a mystical structure. A way to detect the non-duration, the abolition of time, the life in an eternal present.
In the latest paintings, blue dominates; the colour of dreams that, as some semiologists state, is the first to be perceived by the child soon after birth. This confirms an attitude, admitted by the artist herself, that evokes children's writing and somehow reflects its sublime innocence.

Rome, May 2003

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Paolo Alei - 2005


An Interpretation of Simona Weller's Painting-Writing

As an art historian of the Renaissance I was at first intimidated by Simona Weller's complex and important contribution to contemporary art. Then, once the dialogue between spectator and work of art was established, the latter appeared as a visual manifestation elaborated with original technique and dense with meaning. The aim of this essay is to analyze the meaning and technique of a particular phase of Weller's career, namely her visual study on the possible functions of the word within the image. In certain canvases of the painter the word becomes a sort of ductus repeated as a module. A module which is not a mere geometric figure but, and this is Weller's invention, a word chosen for its evocative content. The painter's favorite terms, sea, grass, wheat, sky, dawn (mare, erba, grano, cielo, alba) are used as serial repetitions painted with bright pastel colors on monumental canvases.
The history of Western art is imbued with a verbal component perfected in different media and means. From the ancient Horatian simile of ut pictura poesis, images and words confront each other according to the complex theories of these two arts: poetry has inspired painting and vice versa in a fluid exchange of ideas and suggestions. The two arts have often followed analogous models, but at times the association has been analogical: from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs to medieval illuminated manuscripts, from painted voices of Beato Angelico to the mysterious sense of Et in Arcadia ego by Poussin. Moreover, one must not forget the phonetic experiments of futurism and contemporary computer-generated writing in which letters, words, phrases and texts support images or become images themselves.
Simona Weller studied classical art and began her career as an academic painter before experimenting with various tendencies of modern art: from impressionism to divisionism, from cubism to surrealism and dadaism. Her painting-writing might be associated with the expressive styles of Novelli, Boetti, Twombly and Basquiat (though this last elaborated his graffiti and blackboards about fifteen years later), but Weller comes to this language with her own profoundly different artistic identity. If the so called "blackboards" of Simona Weller share certain elements with Basquiat and Twombly, her serial words differ from the trends of this artistic dialogue between Rome and New York to establish her as an artist with her own particular style. Undoubtedly, Weller is neither the first nor the last artist to have employed painted words on canvas, but she is the only one to have used an original artistic process which, employing a simple word-module, is capable of evoking emotionally the feeling of a dawn, a sunset over the sea or a field of wheat.
In Weller's work a word is decodified in its manifestation as writing, in its repetition and superimposition to weave colours employed according to the parameters of divisionism. Let us take the term "sea" (mare): in Weller's work it is not merely indicative of a vast extension of water but also of a surface that contains within itself constant movement of waves or even storms. The word grass (erba) and wheat (grano), whose blades or ears moved by the wind, follow the same principles of movement and extension. For the artist, infinity is not merely implied in the immensity of the ocean or in the unending expanse of meadows or fields of wheat but in the universal immensity of nature itself.
Thus, the infinite is seen to be a constant principle in these works at both a spatial and creative level in time. Water has always been the most evident symbol of the natura naturans, the symbol par excellence of the renewal of nature through rain generated by clouds born of the sea. It is not surprising, therefore, that by repeating the word sea (mare) on the canvas, the artist does not fix a single idea, iconically frozen on the surface, but leaves a suggestion of constant fluctuation in time and space. Similarly, grass (erba) and wheat (grano) represent not only the symbols of fertility, but also the passage of the seasons through the eternal cycle of life and death. Hence, in the canvases Erba and Grano, colours and pigments are subject to a temporal and physical metamorphosis in the process of writing in order, at times, to become what they had been in the beginning. No wonder that the supporting perimeter cannot contain either the painted concept or the extension of the pictorial expression. The painting suggests the expansion of writing beyond the confines of the canvas.
Although horizontally organized, Weller's writing is neither linear nor repetitive in graphic form or its colours. The word or, better, the act of writing becomes a blue wave, a green blade or golden ear of wheat that changes tonality according to the light of the sun whether at its zenith, at sunset or at dawn. In Talatta talatta (1976-78) the surface is transformed into reflecting foam, shining as if wet. In the works "grass" and "wheat" (erba and grano) (1971-74, reinterpreted in this century) the colours and pigments become fiber as if transformed into vegetal textile. Thus Weller's word is a synecdoche, a sign that refers us back to the total perception of her creation a part, as indicated by the rhetorical trope, signifying the whole. Rhetorical references can also be found in the structure of the work itself where a sign is repeated as an anaphora. Writing, understood as a continuum, becomes a kind of prayer, or a litany to the point of becoming an alarming presage, a dramatic cry. The artist has realised the idea of figure and discourse interwoven in word and image.
How can writing become a form of visual art? Weller's writing is analogous to drawing. Through the act of marking the surface she explores, without fixing, the stream of thought with her hand. As if evoking Leonardo's act of artistic creation through the componimento inculto, Weller's representation of nature comes into being through elements in movement. Like the Renaissance master, Weller's hand explores not once, but many times thanks to her technique of superimposition. The artist superimposes word upon word to the point of evoking the idea of the componimento inculto, the composition that, by remaining an ingeniously open form, leads the spectator to participate with his emotions in the subjugated chaos of the work. In Weller's paintings a form is born from another, a word is truncated by the following one which, in turn, generates a further line of writing. Then, suddenly one or more terms are cancelled and rewritten elsewhere. Superimposition is a process which denies perspective but not spatial depth. Every word reveals something of the one underneath, which comes to the surface in spatial and semantic terms.
While Leonardo's composition leaves his ideas and forms in a state of chaotic representation, Weller imposes upon herself a geometric model that, while it denies the figurative, reorders chaos according to precise structures. Lines, grids, bands of colours evoke not only Cézanne's pre-cubist experiments but above all the page of a note-book and reasserts that the artist is writing with painting and painting with writing. Weller's structural lines establish a sequence and do not allow the work to overwhelm the artist completely. Indeed, the painter controls the work through precise operations. These organisational parameters, however, do not cease to evocate chaos: the chaos of life, the chaos of nature, the chaos that like the tireless hand of the artist continues to generate further creative forces. Through this fascinating interplay between order and chaos the work, like the dancing star praised by Nietzsche, takes its shape.
When at the end of the 1970s Simona Weller dedicated works to the word sea (mare), painted writing was no longer a childish or casual accumulation of words, but a carefully thought out study. Weller's painting-writing is constituted by dynamic lines of a phenomenological character. The artist establishes a correspondence between the movement of the sea, wind and grass and the movement of the hand. In the end a deliberate relationship between the subject and its execution is created. The artist represents the subject in a way that the eyes of the mind and the hand work reciprocally. Charged with violent colors, these active lines are like musical scores and as such they can be concise, strong or subtle. In this sense Mare mare, Talatta talatta and its variations have a capacity to bewitch in sound and light like a surface fluctuating, moving and reflecting the sun's rays at the different hours of the day.
At times the serial repetition is obsessive and the superimposition drives the emotional tension to the point in which painted words are transformed into a woven surface. If a close view reveals the microcosm of the individual word made out of a divisionist sign, a far view suggests the macrocosm of a text made of superimpositions. Mare mare and Talatta talatta are intertwined paintings in which words almost disappear and become illegible. From far away the painting is emotionally grasped rather than read intellectually. Consequently, its meaning is conveyed by means of color, movement and texture. In this second approach it is no longer the referentiality of a single semiotic sign but the apparent general semiotic effect that fills Weller's painting. By creating a web of words Weller creates a work interwoven with signs of colour which cover, without canceling, the warp of the canvas beneath.
The artist is a sort of Penelope who weaves a semiotic cloth and a plot of a poem. Even more Weller is an Ovidian heroine, a sort of a Philomela who weaves words to communicate her despair. Philomela, raped, deprived of her tongue and imprisoned in a tower, communicates with her sister Procne through words of fire secretly woven on a piece of fabric. However, Philomela's woven voice implies a spectator who, like her sister, understands the coded language employed by the maker and can free the silent prisoner. Philomela's communication is part of the Metamorphoses, a poem, but the woven voice is not a poem or rather is not only a poem. Philomela's fabric with its flame-marked signs can be considered a surface that communicates by means of semiotic systems shared with painting. Like Philomela's mute voice, Wellerpainted writing, even if it differs in its message, evokes poetry, but it is above all a visual work of art.
Simona Weller transforms the metaphorical communication invented by Ovid into a contemporary message through signs elaborated by modern art. The major influences on her seem to derive from impressionism. However, for Weller nature is neither Van Gogh's Provencal field nor the water around the Grand Jatte of Seurat. Weller's nature is a universal ideal which exists in the imagination of the artist. Although Talatta talatta was inspired by a sunset on the beach of Sabaudia, it does not have any recognizable element identifiable with the Tyrrhenian Sea. No banlieu on the horizon, no peasant at work or bourgeois on vacation, no narrative appears on the horizon: there is only the immense vastness of nature. On a more technical level, moreover, the Weller's written word somehow challenges the divisionist brushstroke. Van Gogh's brushstroke represents wheat or grass as a vertical filament. On the other hand, writing, though disconnected, implies a certain horizontality proper to the rhetoric Weller aims at imposing. In this structuralisation the artist seems to refer to the early works by Mondrian who employed divisionist taches and a grid structure.
Although Weller evokes divisionism in the way she elaborates a sign, Mondrian in her structure and rejects futurism in her meaning, some of her graphic experiments could make us think of certain inventions of Marinetti's poetry. Undoubtedly, the painter does not look to Marinetti as a source of meaning, but to his having freed words from the constraints of conventional syntax. In Weller's painting we do not find the mythology of war, praise of destruction or, much less yet, a spirit of rebellion. Rather, tonality and the movement of her painting have an almost contemplative, at times even a romantic, character. Weller evokes Marinetti's semantics and transforms it into a fundamentally different pictorial communication. In Weller's painting the fevered insomnia, leaps, blows and battles of futurist literature become wave, foam, wind, light and, in the most dynamic passages, fire and tempest. Marinetti's urban and technological velocity is transformed into the movement of nature, a nature, of course, which is not controlled by man but rather, even if sometimes at risk, dominates and enchants the beholder through contemplation. Weller perfects the so called inebriating word freed from punctuation, syntax, laws and norms. They are onomatopoeic words, at times olfactory, at times auditory, that in any case always remain visual. The artist writes or paints with words of different colors and typographic structures on blackboards but in the works under analysis here she favours the horizontality of handwriting. According to Marinetti free words do not aim at humanising nature (animal, vegetable, mineral), but on the contrary naturalise style by seeking to make it live from the very essence of the material. In Weller's representation of the sea, style is made liquid and becomes water with all its particles moving under the rays of light, losing its verbal structure to assume the substance evoked.
More so than futurism Weller's words elaborate a research between words and objects or, better yet, between les mots e les choses to evoke the long and complex French debate from Mallarmé to Foucault. By assuming a different appearance, the form of a word (especially following the near-far effect) becomes the object whose representation is intended.
Weller's art suggests a reflection on the link between words and that which they designate by studying all the riches hidden by the material invoked by the word itself. For this reason the interweaving of words, even if structured according to the parameters of geometry, has a natural and organic power. Just like the poetry of Francis Ponge, Weller's work is united to the object under examination so that the sea of Mare Mare becomes liquid, is filled with the colours and emotions that this process implies. The observer finds himself in front of a synthesis of the word between proper noun, common noun, concrete noun and modified noun, and all of their corollary adjectives, and, finally, the abstract noun indirectly perceived only through the emotions generated by optical effects. Weller's word not only directs us to the object itself it evokes also to the individual idea that, we, individual spectators autonomous in our interpretations, make of it. Thus, the final understanding of this painting-writing is linked to the idea that we, the spectators, diverse and autonomous in our perception, have constructed of the word in question according to our experience and consequently according to an interpretative key that can be either cognitive or affective. Here the work of Simona Weller leads to a possible reflection on semiotic anarchy and thus suggests a move toward deconstruction.
Simona Weller knows that language alone (understood as vocabulary) cannot reach a level of representation like that of the visual arts. Therefore, she elaborates language in a metaphoric sense. Language needs rhetorical strategies, the metaphors and colours of poetry and painting to arrive at what the word evokes. Weller's word-module immediately recalls the object to which it refers in a more immediate and emotional way than the word itself. Yet at times emotion and passion, though lucid, surpass the word's structure just as affectivity surpasses cognition and, in some cases, arrives at the point where chaos is more difficult to tame. Here the illusion of determinacy enters a crisis and the theme becomes overwhelmingly emotional, impressive, open, infinite and indeterminate. The organising geometry of the interweaving and the structuring rhythm of the lines seem to cede to the general affectivity generated by the incommensurability of the universal element invoked. Finally the eurhythmic articulation becomes symmetrical growth and then pure emotion through optical vibrations, cancellations and superimposition. From a close up of the word to a distant perception of the superimposition, the surfaces of these paintings become an optical effect with vibrations of color and light. Their extraordinary effect suggests the importance of Simona Weller's painting in which the pairing of chaos and control reaches a dialectic tension between enchantment and delirium, cognition and affectivity, the determinate and the indeterminate, the near and the far, the written and the erased, the visible and the invisible.

Calcata, April 2005

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Sandro Barbagallo - 2005


Art, Summer, Nostalgia

It was summer when Simona Weller returned to Finalborgo. She guided me around town, showed me the tower in via Nicotera 34 where she had lived in the fabulous Seventies; and that bar beyond the city walls, where some of her best paintings first saw the light of day. I knew that in these very places, Cesare Vivaldi -her partner back then- had written some memorable works of poetry, inspired by art, by the fullness of love, by the sufferings of parting; the painful leaving these beloved places and the slow subsiding of the floodwaters of love.
In the summer 2004, Simona was invited to Finale Ligure to present her recent novel Memoires of a respectable painter. The novel had been read by the right people, the same people who did their best to organize this twofold exhibition. Simona magically rediscovered her old friends and found new ones, because in her book she extensively writes about both Finalborgo and Calice. Most of all, her book recalls that very special atmosphere that a group of artists can catalyse toward themselves. An atmosphere made of hopes, expectations, projects, dreams of glory and, why not, an impalpable touch of madness.
As far as I know, nobody has yet thought about historicizing what I would call, without uncertainties, the "School of Calice". And don't tell me that the artists were too heterogeneous in terms of generations and trends. What I believe was important, is that each one of them was able to defend his/her avant-garde and that the "spirit of time" freely inspired the art of these now famous names. Let us not forget that in the cities of the Seventies, art was mainly characterized by a strong political involvement, which often made painting look like propaganda. Between Finale and Calice, artists would be welcomed to a happy island where nobody had to prove anything to anybody else and where the artists (Nangeroni, Reggiani or Scanavino, for example) had already gone through their own "revolutions". By reading through the list of the ca. one hundred and twenty names that passed by Calice, we easily notice that not only was Calice represented by most of the best Italian art but, with some exceptions, nobody had taken the path of an ideology that could in any way mystify their art. By trend groups, Nangeroni, Mauro Reggiani, Capogrossi, and Scanalino himself were linked to a kind of painting that could be generally defined as abstract, being based on pattern and repetition. The younger artists (such as Mondino, Nespolo, Mambor, Stefanoni, Ben Vautier and Weller) were instead influenced by the great innovations, like American Pop Art, which in Europe had ancient roots in Art-Brut and in Dada; which caused the Scuola di Piazza del Popolo, in Rome, to be called Neo-dada.
If we were therefore to find a common line between all these artists, I would call it freedom or spiritual autonomy. In order to fully understand what made the Calice years and its legend so unique, we must focus on the artists' working conditions. The first question we must answer is: what are a young artist's dreams? In order of relevance, these are: to find a space that is appropriate for the artist's expressive needs, i.e. a studio; to be surrounded by a group of supporting friends that will sustain him/her in the times of discouragement; to work with a gallery manager who's is able to promote, defend and circulate the artist's work.
Finale and Calice met these three important requirements, and this helped the development of an the appropriate interest for the area, triggering a certain magnetism toward the two towns. Artists from Milan, Turin and Rome, under pressure because of the impossible rent prices of the big cities, were the first to rent or buy a studio-house. An example of this is the unforgettable pink villa that Mondino managed to rent for an unbelievably low price. It was a typical Ligurian villa that evoked ghosts because of its stuffed animals and of the colonial worm-eaten furniture. As Nangeroni would say, the house looked like its tenant. At the time, Mondino was painting a cycle of paintings dedicated to the mystery of the I Ching game.
The summer of 1970 witnessed the arrival of Simona Weller with her children and Cesare Vivaldi. They too, called by Emilio Scanavino, were accommodated at the Hotel Viola. Cesare had a room where he could write and the "three bambini" (which includes Simona, who had just turned 30) shared a large room with a view on the mountains. On the veranda of that very room, Simona painted her first Ligurian works. In the hottest afternoons, the family would go pick mushrooms in the woods of Calizzano. The children learned to eat snails. One day they captured so many that they did not even manage to take them to the kitchen because the snails had organized a revolt, infesting the whole hotel.
That first summer, the family understood that this was the right place for them. The children could play with the other artists' kids; there were three or four galleries where Simona could exhibit her work; there were painters and sculptors with whom she could to compare her work, confront herself, fight, build friendships. Each group or family found their own links. Simona Weller's family developed a strong friendship with the Nangeronis, but they also spent much time with Mauro Reggiani, leader of Italian abstract art movement and reckless driver, fisherman, ironic man and generous friend. And there were all the others: Nanda Vigo, the Cusumano couple and the D'Ars magazine group; the artists that Simona already knew from the youth collective exhibitions, such as De Filippi, Stefanoni, Mariani, Moncada, Nespolo. Many of them bought a country house on the hills between Finalborgo and Calice.
At a certain point, Simona and Cesare, too, decided to look for a house. By chance, the couple one day met a kind man named Enrile. When he heard that Simona was a painter and Vivaldi a poet, the man felt the urge to show them the attic where he used to find shelter as a kid. In via Nicotera, Finalborgo, he guided them up a very steep staircase. He had an undecided look, he hesitated. When they arrived on top of the tower, he opened a small door, a secret passage and, apologizing, he let them into this "Wonderland".
It looked like the scenography from Boheme. The charm of the place may have been due to the very high and sloping roof, to the exposed beams on the ceilings, the fireplaces, the windowsills made of slate, the niches and the small windows… it was love at first sight, the answer to the poet's and the painter's most romantic dreams. Nothing to compare with the aseptic city homes.
The most interesting part about this was that, touched by the couple's enthusiasm for his childhood world, Mr Enrile not only asked for just a symbolic rent price but he also decided to renovate the whole place at his expenses.
They moved in the following summer. The Finalborgo attic had been quickly furnished with many paintings and many plants. In the first months, Simona painted (on the floor) the paintings that she later exhibited at her first Quadrennial exhibition. The following step was now to look for a studio.
Here began Vivaldi's and Simona Weller's parallel life in Liguria: they would arrive at the end of May to leave at the end of September/beginning of October. Every once in a while, during the other seasons, "pressed by nostalgia" as Vivaldi wrote in a poem, they would return to their house in Finale for a few days. It was a great place to work. Cesare would write poems, Simona would paint her first important works. All the tensions caused by competitiveness and race for success would suddenly dissolve, also because the couple had decided to not have a telephone.
In order to call relatives and friends, Simona and Cesare would go to Bar Ercole at the end of the street (it still stands, but with another name). Once, Palma Bucarelli, who was correcting an interview that she was giving Simona, managed to reach her on the public telephone every day, after sending telegrams.
Liguria was also protecting the couple from the toxins of unsolved professional relationships. When recalling the long Ligurian period, Simona speaks of fulfilment and fullness. She finally had all she could wish for: art, her children, the right companion in the house that corresponded to her taste and expectations. A space filled with imagination and loved things, of views and dreams.
It seemed that this enchanted time was going to last forever. Instead, as often happens when we experience something extraordinary, the two did not feel that that time was about to be over, together with the friendships and the acquaintances that they had cultivated.
One evening, the Italian-Swiss gallery manager Anna Maria Janneret, organized a dinner party in her garden in Bissano. The guest of honor was Andy Warhol, who was spending time in Bissano to write his autobiography in peace. Nobody was yet giving any weight to the great American artist, who showed up with his usual pageboy haircut and an ill paleness that certainly did not make him very likeable at a first glance. His flabby and unsociable look won him the nickname of "Polentina" (porridge), a name given by the children running around him, who were instead healthy and tan.
It was, again, the kids who contested Franz P. when he exposed Beuys's conceptual work: "an old coat and a hat" in the centre of his gallery. Ah, this childish indignation! This is just to say that Calice didn't just host any kind of exhibition. Gallery manager Remo Pastori did his best to present old artists as well as young artist like Simona. Pastori was an eccentric character, a fun mythomaniac who, though young, loved to make others believe that he had lived with the artists of the historical avant-gardes. He was very appreciated by the painters of Calice, so much that they taxed themselves to buy him a Cartier watch as a sign of gratitude.
A born subjugator, he had managed to convince his artists that they should not claim anything from the sale of their works. "It doesn't matter if you sell, all that matters is who you sell to" he would say; or "the collection of a great industrial man is not the same as that of an anonymous expert" and "artists should pay, for their work be part of certain collections, so consider yourself privileged". One day, tired of these sentences that had brought others to feel gratitude towards him and her to feel exasperated, Simona suddenly popped up in Pastori's office. By chance, she noticed a collector leave the office with one of her painting in his arms; there was a check on the desk (that must have been more or less the thirtieth painting of hers that had been sold, and for which she hadn't seen a penny). With an incredible wit, Simona grabbed the check:
- This is for me, isn't it Remo?
- Give me at least some change! - he replied, discouraged and in a thin voice.
Simona Weller gloriously left, laughing.
Two years after her arrival, Simona had rented a former bank building on the river Aquila, just by the beginning of Finalborgo. That became her studio and the place where artists would organize their parties.
In one of his dialectal poems, Vivaldi describes the studio as follows: "Out the window, the green shade of pumpkins and apricot trees; on the white wall, inside, she's working on a canvas where extracts of words get lost like birds in this white air that smells like sea. I look at what she's doing: I see that this canvas is bigger than me, as big as love, it gets lost out the green window, it covers all of Finale."
It is in this very period that we bought Vivaldi's last book of Ligurian poems. Edited by Scheiwiller in 1980, it included a small lithography by Simona on a black background. The last poem of the collection is called "Finale in winter".
"Finale in winter. The palm trees poke the air like sticks, the sea beats and spits, up to the sidewalk. In the moist air life seems to hide. But it's time to return to Rome forever: slowly slowly we fill the boxes that are awaiting us, empty. It's cold and I am good at nothing, more and more good at nothing. I look at your beautiful hands working, busy in the winter, your face of sun that slightly warms up the icy windows and I'm not good at telling you about love."
"It's time to go back to Rome forever", reads one of the verses. I ask Simona why they decided to leave. Was it because she had bought the house in Calcata, much closer to Rome? Was it because someone had died too young and somebody else was gone? Maybe it was because of that flood that had furtively penetrated her studio. Who knows if Umberto Rotella remembers it. Rotella is another one of the gallery managers that Simona loves to remember.
It had rained heavily that year, too much. The stream, dry in the summer, had turned to a river and it had flooded. The road that separated the studio from the embankment was completely flooded; the water probably reached the height of the windows and, from the shutters, it had penetrated inside. Nobody ever understood how all that water could possibly have found its way in. Maybe through the interstices of the windows or from under the shutters. But water and mud furiously penetrated, violating that space made of paintings and colours. The waters reached a height of about one and a half meters, until -God knows how many days later- the sun returned, with a strong north wind; the same wind that had opened the windows, dried up the waters. But the mud stayed, to hide everything. A beautiful golden clay covered shelves, easels and tables with a warm velvety colour. When she opened the shutter, Simona was with Vivaldi and Umberto Rotelli. They were shocked. The show was apocalyptic but fascinating at the same time. It seems that Cesare was singing some poems by Ungaretti, about happy shipwrecks. Simona recalls that, before thinking of her works and of how many of them she had lost, she realized that she had for the first time understood that the ways of art are mysterious. In the end, what she was seeing was a spontaneous art installation and, maybe for this reason, it was so perfect and exciting. There was even a long red drool, left by one of the Windsor&Newton powder colour jars. God knows for how long that jar had floated over the mud to draw that "desperate trace of its path". I was staring, hypnotized at my wounded studio when I heard Cesare murmuring: we really have to leave now!
This summer 2005, Simona Weller is returning to Liguria as the great artist she has become. The places of her youth will honour her and she, through her paintings, will tell the fairytale of those enchanted years. The Chiostros of Santa Caterina in Finalborgo and the Casa del Console in Calice will host many works that were born in these places and that have then grown far away from Liguria, in the hearts and in the memory of the artist that I today have the honour to introduce to you. I am glad to have been able to take care of an exhibition like this one; an anthological painting show which, through colours and poetry, traces the paths that have inspired an artist that on colours and poetry has built her own life.

Rome, 10 May 2005

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Alberto Veca - 2005


Reconciled Distance

We are here at the extreme opposite of a tabula rasa -i.e. something with no trace of what was previously reported; the protagonist is in fact a "table" where episodes, memories, notes of words and figures are in continuous motion, accumulated, just apparently in a random way, and interrupted only by the physical borders of the support; otherwise the conversation would last to infinity.
I can only record some general thoughts about Simona Weller's work because of lack of time, according to a modality which is overall tiring but, at the same time, able to stimulate the essence, not taking advantage from theoretical calculation and from the "distance" of a comfortable bibliographic survey, but rather from a somehow more participated haste, due to the need to substitute the others' comforting equipment for spontaneous sensation. In order to do this, I am favoured by my acquaintance with the artist, made of various encounters, scattered out in time but always convincing.
I think that this direct way of working, without schemes or filters, and the "time" variable are the crucial elements of the work in question: the immediateness of the note and its time of realization, the desire to record the moment and its corrections are therefore Simona's central attitudes in her acting as a plastic artist as well as in her parallel acting as a biased writer and biographer of the feminine expressiveness of the past.
The work can therefore be seen as an accumulation of different "sessions" or of different states of being, different needs to record and therefore to tell: regardless of the often impressive size of some works, often very close to that of an art installation, the image they suggest is that of a blackboard -maybe because the black background is a recurring choice- or of a notebook; we are here talking about two spaces that, if we think about it, are on two opposite ends; the blackboard is the common space between the actor and the audience, a willingness of making a path obvious to all; the notebook is private, often hidden to the indiscrete eyes.
In this "mimesis" of contrasting instruments of communication, I believe there is a willingness to make us approach and "familiarize" with a material that can have privileged recurring subjects (as in the recent cycle Letters of an Italian painter to Vincent Van Gogh) or to play on keywords of autobiographical nature, whose declination, in writing and painting, becomes an explicit path of cross-references, even for the stranger.
The protagonists are therefore the privileged instruments of memory, caught in their fragile temporary nature and subject to possible corrections both when writing line after line, as well as when reading the whole paragraph.
We are here talking about two different cases of temporary nature; in the first case -the blackboard - a stroke of duster can erase all "signs" - I am using this word to convey an explicit dialectic equivalence between written word and image - for new possible adventures; in the second case -the notebook- we can see a material which is very close to being a diary, to an internal document, a transitional document, before it is translated into a "completed" product, perfectly made according to the rules of the good manners of communication.
This is certainly a suggestion, probably suggested by the artist, because the work is, by nature and at least in this case, "final" in its being a transparent proof of a procedure determined by erased hypotheses, that are almost scraped off the surface to then be substituted, with a variable time interval, for newinues to consider her privileged reference point.
In the years we can catch a higher or lower evidence granted to the various languages used - writing, handwriting, illustration - in a constant game of precarious equilibriums, which are though explicit in their being portraits of an episode, of a "chapter" -if we speak about narrative metaphor-, of a story whose outlines are constantly uncertain, played upon memory in the first place, and on the need to make some proofs emerge from experience, together with some gathered "echo"; to make it durable in the present, the echo of the "Table" chosen for the occasion, mixing everything for the future of a new reader who may become fond of it, and to therefore make the account, the page of a diary or the blackboard of a classroom become
current.

Milan, April 2005

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Fabio Benzi - 2006


Ceramics as Sea Pages

"Sea pages" as the title of one of the most beautiful ceramic sculptures of the exhibition, could be the incipit or epigraph of this extraordinary chapter dedicated to ceramic in the vast volume constituted by Simona Weller's works.
Made by words and meaningful, allusive, evocative signs, Simona's painting can be read as a book. According to the artist, her ceramic work should not be considered as a minor chapter, for the malleable nature intrinsic to ceramic can generate a kind of poetry elaborated with the same sensitivity employed in other media and surfaces: oil or pastel colors and canvases or paper respectively. The open curls of the soft and yet throbbing ceramic emphasize the cerebral movement of the pictorial writing while the bright colors of the fluid enamels provide the existential wave of the sign with an even freer and aerial quality. Moreover, in ceramic works, forms and colors are perfectly combined so to reach an apex of formal beauty. Although sea, wave, sky and wheat fields are the subjects which the artist explored at length in her former research, in the ceramics these subjects appear increasingly more distilled and immediate. They are poetic waves of the unconscious translated into sign, a sign which belongs, of course, to a more carefully thought out artistic process, a testimony of the skill of a profound and mature artist. Green and blue seas, gloomy sea, seas interwoven with reflexes, deep seas and seas in verses: all these watery surfaces cover the wavy ceramics of Simona Weller, adding a modern freedom and a joyful character to the fascination of this ancient medium.

Roma, November 2006

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Weller Poems for Simona Weller

Cesare Vivaldi - 1970


Il fuoco per Simona Weller

Complici della luce,
quei sonnacchiosi momenti d'ombra
che si annidano negli angoli in fondo ai corridoi,
rimangono a dormire per pigrizia
mentre pesci dalle gote d'oro
ronzano come api nel bugno dei ceppi
poi si spiegano in volo
correndo via tra le stelle
con gradazioni infinite di colori e di suoni.
Infiltratasi così, in punta di piedi,
l'antica lingua del fuoco
scava nel buio insenature che sembrano fiordi
dove gabbiani lucenti
sorvolano a bassa quota le caravelle del tramonto
e biondeggiano spighe
su campi immaginari.

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Cesare Vivaldi - 1971


Acrostico

Stupefatto, continuo a compitare
l tuo alfabeto. A come azzurro, B come il blu
Marino, C come celeste
Oppure come cielo. Ogni lettera
Nitidamente corrisponde a un colore, a una cosa
A uno straordinario animale dagli occhi indefinibili.

Wait and see. E come elefante o come
Elmo, I come istrice
La bestia che mi assomiglia, N come nido,
La S chiama il serpente
E via via seguitando con esattezza. Anima,
Ricorda, ha la stessa A di aquila e amore.

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Murilo Mendes - 1973


Per Simona Weller

Plurale e singolare litigano in campo verde blu rosso violetto.
La lettera U, le generazioni della lettera U.
L'infinita solitudine del punto e virgola, questo disoccupato.
Linee curve richiamano i ginocchi di Cenerentola,
il dondolio delle isole Varnavlou, le onde dei microfoni muti.
Il vento ballerino, stanco di turbinare i luoghi previsti,
s'appiatta nei labirinti di Antonin Artaud e nei giardini semantici di Babilonia.
S'assiste a uno sciopero dei fucili
contemporaneamente a uno sciopero
delle autoblindo.
Un uccello-pirata blu rosso verde dirotta un aereo al Polo Nord verso la Cometa KBF.
Stelle senza orologio, dimentiche di star
dormendo, si dan del tu urtandosi il gomito.
Un giovane naviglio trasporta poesie clandestine, sospette ai dittatori.
S'intravvede la carta d'identità dell'uovo di Colombo.
Lo spazio apre i suoi occhi convergenti e scopre le manovre del tempo, la sua favola.
Lo scacco del no, la vittoria del sì.

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Cesare Vivaldi - 1974

A Simona Weller

La scrittura corre veloce verso la fine
della tela, si srotola
e raggomitola in matasse ora fitte
ora rade,
dove si piega l'erba
in un lieve sussurro,
s'arricciano le onde del mare,
dondola lungamente
il grano ingiallito
da un sole che brucia
il nero dei corvi.
La pittura non termina
nei quattro lati del rettangolo del quadro
ma respira aria, spazio,
cuore, cervello, sensi,
si dilata, s'espande
in una catasta d'immagini;
Fenice che accende un rogo
Per poi rinascere dalle sue stesse
ceneri.
La pittura è difficile e semplice come l'amore.

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Adriano Spatola - 1980


L'abilizione della realtà per Simona Weller

La meraviglia il senso degli oggetti laccati
inchiavardati misurati truccati nell'orologio
generosa felice matura penitenza ombra
che il sole sbadato ricuce sulle foglie
calzoni cappelli ombrelli e gonne e guanti
la collera affoga sospirando il gemito risuona
sulla parete decorata e vuota sulla bilancia
gorgo smagliato secco smaltato gorgorismo
congenito alla sete alla cupa stupefazione
o meraviglia o senso degli oggetti laccati.

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Elio Pecora - 1989


Per Simona

Parole che parlano foglie,
nubi, paludi.
Dentro stretti alfabeti
il mare, la morte.
L'a dell'attesa,
l'u dello stupore.
Cuspidi, cerchi, antenne,
segni insensati
per vicinanze, rincorse:
pure qui stanno i richiami,
le soste, gli addii,
per esse un patto remoto,
un ponte esile, arduo,
sopra l'abisso.
E parli, ma dentro una rete
di azzurri-verdi-viola,
di gialli assolati, di rossi:
in essi il grido, il sussurro,
l'annuncio tardo, segreto,
lo scarno saluto, l'inizio
di un mai concluso discorso.
L'occhio si schiude, cancella,
anche s'abbaglia, si curva,
per un diverso alfabeto
che più contiene ed allude.
Così, raccolti i lembi
d'un ritrovato universo,
tu vai segnando una mappa
d'orme chiare, leggere.

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Ariodante Marianni - 1996


Verdazzurro/acqua/vento/rombo/luce/conchiglia

Sapremo mai che cosa chiedi
In che lingua risponde il tuo
Mare fanciullo mentre trascrivi le sue
Onde compitandole
Nella grafia di chiusi sillabari ed
Atlanti di No-

Where caparbiamente
Esplorando
Le sue variegate correnti con arguta
Leggerezza e molto amando
E affondando nel verdeazzurro/acqua/vento/
Rombo/luce/conchiglia delle tue indocili tele?

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