Eyes Wide Shut

Elisa Anfuso at MAGA - 5th October 2019

Liquid art system is very proud to present the latest show by Elisa Anfuso

"Eyes wide shut" will take place at MAGA, the museum of art in Gallarate (VA).

The title of the exhibition is an oxymoron, based on the antinomy of two opposite words: Eyes wide shut, very well express the Elisa Anfuso work, which is constantly suspended into a time between conscious and unconscious.

The opening will be on October 5th, at 6:00 pm. The exhibition can be visited till November 3rd.

It would be too easy and unfair to use the word “dreamlike” to describe paintings by Elisa Anfuso, or to associate her with the long list of surrealist artists who merely pursued psychoanalysis with other means; and we cannot even recall the genre “fancy” (wonderland) that spans from the 18th century to today without any evolution in terms of style or contents, except for the obvious modernization of the lines. On the contrary, Anfuso's images, floating between real and surreal, perfectly represent that “middle-consciousness” so dear to Schnitzler, who rejected the mistake of those who insist in digging up in the depth of the unconscious more than necessary, “perpetually inspecting”.

Being in the middle gives a refined lightness to Anfuso's scenarios, which go beyond the limits of the real but they never fall into the shades of nightmares; there is a rarefaction, a temporal suspension, even in the precise hyperrealist lines fundamental to the Sicilian artist, which expresses the reality and the dream at the same time, the truth with the lie, hendiadys essential to our life and that cannot be limited to a unum.  It is just like transforming the everyday life with the imagination, taking on some bizarre – but not impossible – features, and this transfiguration takes place by gathering symbols (the egg, the birds, the flowers, the cherries...) until it acquires the ambience of a symbolist painting. Even colours support this symbolic feature: from white to red, from albedo to rubedo, without going through the dark inquietude of nigredo, Anfuso's alchemical path is fulfilled up to the “sublimation”, which – if it means the passage to an airy form in chemistry – in psychoanalysis is the transformation of primordial impulses, so that an aggressive sexual drive – Freud would maintain – is normalised into a non-sexual or non-aggressive goal.

Therefore: Anfuso's teenagers and women keep a certain erotic charge, their postures reveal a kind of child's restlessness, but nothing flows in the cold composure of the shapes and in the clear lines, and the sensations are channelled, traced back, into a path of almost normality. There is obviously the staging of the background, the captivating fancy posture, the extravagant clothes and headgear rich in laces and,  needless to say, the presence of cakes is not a tribute to the pastry-making art of the artist's country of origin, but rather the passage from eros to gluttony, that is, from the not-possible-to-tell to the allowed-to-show. In addition to this, in her latest production, there is the issue of the double, from a feminine standpoint, which duplicates, like in a mirror, the profound existential surface of the women on stage: Freud reluctantly wrote to Schnitzler: “I think I avoided you out of a kind of fear of encountering my double”, and we can understand this fear because the similarity, or rather the identicality which undermines and denies the identity, is scaring and shocking since we irremediably find ourselves in the other. 

Anfuso's blindfolded girls are not blind: they are looking into themselves and for this reason they must have eyes “openly shut” to the outside, so that they can be “tightly open” on the inside. This seems only an insignificant stylistic by-product of the oxymoron mentioned earlier, but this time it happens to be the truth of things.

Angelo Crespi

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