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A long dream for a proper wedding between "Water and Colour"  
Nadia Scardeoni
ISSN 1127-4883     BTA - Telematic Bulletin of Art, June 22th 1999, n. 187

The painting of great master Francois Dautle Renoir, reaches out seductively from the images of a calendar that very young Milvia repeatedly admires in the dentistry studio of her father. She waits with impatience for the end of the month to come so that she can finally cut out those precious images that she will jealously keep in her first "arts collection". She will then study them in secret, examining every little detail.

She must not neglect even the most minute details of those rich and bright "apparitions" so luminescent with colours that they lead you straight to dreams. And Milva dreams. She dreams of vivid atmospheres, silvery sounds, sweet and stirring perfumes, the "Two little girls at the piano", the joyful saraband of Moulin de le Gallette, the enchantment of the green colour shot through with the sunny gold of the "Path in the wood".

However, her inspiration to trace a direct line between her first approach to such dreamlike and romantic art, and her watercolours of today - vibrant evocations of composite, jealous memories - is what is silenced by her second, yet unexpected love: Pablo Picasso. How a ten-year old girl might have felt attracted by the "striations" and sharpness of the cubist images by Picasso, after the tenderness of the paintings of Renoir is a good question. Hence, as a matter of fact, Milvia runs after her "beloved" and dedicates to him drawing and paintings in his style, with such a fervour and seriousness that she even makes up a "studio" for herself in the corner that the kitchen door makes with the wall once opened.

There, in a space that is narrow only in appearance - in reality that is the new dimension of her freedom, she sets up a frame for an easel and on a shelf she puts in tidy order her little jars, brushes, and colours. They remind me of the "studies" painted by Colantonio and Antonello, austere and silent corners of peace with a few furnishings: all that the painter needs.

Milvia proceeds in her way….in the impudent mode of self-taught people, she "studies the masters directly" feeling great attractions and passions and then… "she tries and tries again". Soon the great Picasso had also to relinquish his place …this time to Casorati. Wax pastels and away! To the happy (!!) liberating imitation of a new style.

In the meanwhile some attentive observers noted her "pictorial culture" and in this way Milvia approaches, at the age of thirteen, her first joint exhibition. With that exhibition she encounters her first success: a book and a medal as an award …that provokes a hint of responsible self-consciousness. Things are become more and more serious…As a gift she receives her first easel and as a consequence a bit of the veranda at home is transformed into a "real painting studio".

No longer papers, no longer pastels…improvisations. She buys her first canvases…real ones. She takes part in other joint exhibitions. She receives plaudits that give her satisfaction. However, her studies at high school do not suit her wishful way of thinking. In fact, the choice goes to scientific studies that little by little draw her back onto the path of her family tradition. She then enrols in the Faculty of Medicine. Dreams come to an end…painting fades away… "real life" starts.


After a long break, when family and professional duties become less pressing, Milvia feels again a deep desire coming back: "could you please give me a box of watercolours!!" So then, again, it happens.
Curiosity, studious attention, analyses of works of art of the great watercolour painters, all this is back again.
Yet, something is not working well. Something does not give her satisfaction, something is "missing", something, like a barrier, stands in front of her sensitive and educated gaze.

She takes lessons in watercolour painting from Prof. Aversani, one of the most highly esteemed engravers and watercolour painters, to acquire the "severe technique", yet she realises that this is really strong and "unforgiving". Now she knows what's missing: "Water is missing". Today, after taking that course with rigour, sacrificing hours of her sleep and breaks during her job as a doctor, she sets her images free: landscapes, corners, squares, paths, almost always taken from travel notes. Real places. Experienced and evoked from the cradle of her memory.

The colour - neat and fragrant - is suggestive of her homeland, Sicily: strong and warm, it "passes" unwary and daring onto the tricks of water; the water that dominates and extols, that - we must remember - can suddenly ruin and destroy. Milvia takes the chance. She manages that peculiar tension: "'water' is important and tends to overwhelm. It's like an avalanche…it does not stop. Yet, with colours, I must…I can dominate it.

Whenever water invades spaces that it can invade, I let it go…however, if it trickles where 'I am'… where 'I must be with the colours', 'water' must stop".

Water is tamed by the "mastery" of technique. It appears and disappears within the complex refinement of transparencies. It drowns imperiously the splits of the spatial planes, caresses contours, points to quivering reverberations…. It takes over, as a rein, in triumphs of light.

Indeed, it is by now "Sister water".



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