Why should art be confined to museums, galleries and studios? In Pisa, thanks to the organisation of my neighbour, Aldo Baiocchi, there are regular exhibitions at the Coop supermarket in Cisanello district, for example. This is a great idea, especially if the check-out queues are long! People who would never regularly step into an art gallery begin to get in touch with artists and perhaps even take up painting themselves. When in London, I was particularly pleased with the “poems on the underground” scheme, first launched in 1986. Since 2000 there has also been “art on the underground” with exhibitions embellishing many of London’ tube stations. That’s the way to democratise art!
There is an extraordinary artistic flair in so many Italians as the country’s rich cultural history amply displays that it doesn’t take too much for people here to connect to the world of creativity so long as it’s made easily accessible and not regarded as being confined to an elitist minority.
Indeed, “Civilization” Clark recognised the importance of making art more widely accessible to everyone in the UK and started a pioneer scheme in the 1930’s when he became the youngest head of the National Gallery. He realised that the average British worker didn’t get the chance that even the remotest farm-worker in Italy gets of admiring beautiful frescoes in local churches or meeting friends in elegant renaissance piazzas. Beauty can only inspire further beauty just as ugliness, regrettably, breeds further ugliness.
Born from an idea by Barga-born artist Kety Bastiani, well-known for her delicate fantasy-realist paintings themed by transcendent symbolism and exquisite technique, Bagni di Lucca’s town hall entrance hall has been transformed into an exhibition centre for painting, culture, photography, fine arts and crafts. So if you’re entering the building to attempt to sort out your latest bill or even brave the “ufficio tecnico” you can relax your mind a little by taking in what’s inside BdL’s “municipio” foyer.
The centre officially opened on 30th May with an interesting exhibition by a group of photographers from the area. That ended on 12 June. It was well- attended and Kety’s idea of bringing art into the work place was much relished.
The town hall itself is a fine building, actually called “il palazzo della Lena” after an ancient local family, and dates back to at least the sixteenth century. I looked inside it yesterday to see that now Kety was exhibiting her own works which will on view until 26th June. The show is titled “thoughts about love”.
There is little need to explain Kety’s art which, I find, speaks immediately to the heart of any sensitive person. There are recurring themes: couples, horses, joined hands, butterflies, swans, infinite horizons, the root connection between love and nature.
There was also a delightful pairing of the famous statuette of Bagni di Lucca’s bather in the foyer with one of Kety’s paintings on the same subject.
I did notice, however, a significant change in her technique this year. The paint is less evenly applied, the textures more broken, the light often darker, the interpretation of themes more ambiguous. Surely this is the paramount sign of a painter that is constantly rediscovering herself through her art and is not stuck in any particular groove.
What’s also good about the town hall scenario is that its garden is being restored and will provide further exhibition space, for example for sculpture.
Forthcoming exhibitions will include:
Daniele Bianchi painter until 10th July.
Anna Garibotti until 4th July
The Borgo degli artisti group until 7th August
If you feel that you would like to contribute to the exhibition space do get in touch with Kety at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 346 1435317. You’ve got until the end of this month if you want to put on a show in August and September.
Bagni di Lucca is certainly turning into an invigorating artistic centre. Not only will its Ponte art exhibition open in full flower next month but Villa is, thanks to Kety’ imaginative project and the cooperation of the municipal authorities, establishing itself as a place where both well-known and more reclusive artists will be able to present their creations to an increasingly artistically aware audience who will also be able to purchase their work at very affordable prices.