Inner Landscapes at Barga

If you were lucky enough to see David Manetti’s exhibition in the refectory of the old Clarissan convent of Santa Elisabetta, now the conservatory of music, near Barga’s Duomo then you would have entered into the mind of an artist who firmly follows a post-impressionist idiom with a wonderful clarity of vision, an appreciative respect for the techniques of past landscape artists and a real sense of the variety of environments which comprise our part of the world – the Lucchesia and the Serchio valley

If you weren’t so lucky then you’ll just have to feast on this selection of photographs of Manetti’s picture I took during my recent visit to Barga.

David Manetti was born in Lucca in 1968 and graduated from its Liceo artistico in 1986. In 1990 Manetti graduated from Florence’s Accademia delle belle Arti.

David started his career as a graphics designer and professional illustrator. He then entered into the field of painting developing there principally as a landscape artist.  His pictures are particularly evocative, conjuring up an interior scenery of the mind. They are essentially a visual counterpart of that famous wordsworthian phrase about poetry being ‘emotion recollected in tranquillity.’

I particularly like those pictures in which the painter concentrates on water and clouds. Clearly he has studied the great northern European tradition of landscape painting, in particular, Turner and the Flemish school. It’s significant that, in the absence of that inordinate demand for religious paintings in Catholic Europe, landscapes in protestant countries achieve an interior spirituality quite different from that of the Italian ‘vedutisti’.

Again, the wordsworthian ‘let nature be thy guide’ leads one to consider a meditation on nature as a truly religious experience, even when dealing with animals like cats.

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I shall follow David Manetti’s further excursions into the Lucchesia countryside with much interest. Through his paintings he has already enabled me to see some familiar places in a very different light – the Torre dei Guinigi, for example, with those trees growing from its top as if transposed from the forests of the mountains surrounding the city

or those secretive, neglected canals which once were major arteries of communication for the Lucchesia,

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or that Viareggian sea with a phantom of a three-master in the background: could that indistinct vessel be the ‘Don Juan’ caught up in the storm which drowned Shelley?

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These and other mysteries permeate Manetti’s sceneries. And even the linchetti and other phantasmagorical elfin creatures of the Garfagnana have a look-in:

Incidentally, the Nuns’ refectory itself is worth a look at for its simple but noble architecture and its collection of old paintings – to say nothing of the Della Robbia’s in the church itself.


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