Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Italian Connection

Permission to reproduce this article has to be obtained from Hindustan Times

Painter Lucia Pescador showcases her work as she admires Indian art

Shevlin Sebastian
Even though Lucia Pescador is conversing in the air-conditioned lobby of the Residency hotel, as soon as a glass of cold water is placed before her, she drinks it down in one gulp and wipes her brow. The May heat is getting to everybody including this 63-year-old painter from sun-kissed Italy; she has come to Mumbai to exhibit her paintings at the Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery.
When asked about her reactions as a first-time visitor, she says, “Mumbai is an amazing city: the colours, the physical objects, the statues and the markets, especially Crawford market. There is an atmosphere of antiquity about the city, which you can sense through the wonderful architecture.”
As for the human element, the Milan-based painter says, “The people are calm and gentle and not very conscious of a social status. That is what I miss in Italy. It is only in the towns and villages that people are simple.”
Pescador looks like an ordinary person, wearing a flowing white cotton jacket over a red blouse and black trousers. But when you look at the feet, a hint of the quirky artist comes through: the shoes are made of red netting and her socks have alternating bands of red and green.
During her week-long stay, Pescador went to see the paintings of Jivya Soma Mashe, the pioneer of Warli tribal art in India. “I found his work interesting,” she says. “To appreciate art, you don’t need to know any language.”
Pescador does not speak English, so she takes the help of Cristian Castelnvovo, a photographer, with blue eyes and dark curly hair, who has come to India with his girlfriend, Caterina Corni. She works for bCA galleries, which has brought Pescador’s paintings to Mumbai, ‘as a bridge between continents’.
Earlier, the bCA organised ‘Namaste India’, where the works of 50 Indian artists were showcased in different locations in Italy. At the same time, prominent Italian artists, Azelio Corni and Pino Ceriotti, have had showings in India.
As for Pescador’s work, there are 42 paintings in the gallery. In all her paintings, she has used paper as the base, because, she says, she loves the feeling and touch of it. “I use paper which is already used,” she says. “That helps me to convey the memory of a culture.” It seems to be some kind of accounting sheet, because the columns and the figures come through the painting. In one, an old music score is used.
She has deliberately used her left hand, “to avoid the precision that comes from the right hand.” There are sentences written in Italian on the paintings and it looks like a childish scrawl, which is what happens when a right-hander tries to write with the left. The paintings are on simple objects: submarines, firs, armchairs, pianos, darts, a ship and vases.
When asked about the reactions of visitors and artists to her work, she shrugs her shoulders and says, “We could not communicate with each other but I could sense the positive vibes.” In the visitor’s book, K. Rajesh from Goregaon writes: ‘This space is too short to appreciate your works.’ On the other hand, V. Hiremath is terse: ‘Unusual graphics.’ When I am viewing the paintings, Jovita Fernandes, a bespectacled banker, in a green salwar kameez, takes a walk around and gives her impressions: “I like the paintings, but I could not understand a few. They seem to be done on old paper: so are they old paintings or recent ones?”

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