The path of Franca Maranò

Francesco Venturoli, 1964

In the short and anxious pictorial journey of Franca Maria Marano, from Bari, to her first personal exhibition, we can identify three non-contradictory moments, indeed one in function of the other, in a development that expresses, in increasingly conscious forms, the same pictorial idea, the same relationship between the external world and imagination, between nature and interiority.

The first of these moments is represented by those paintings, all of medium and small cut, in which landscapes and still lifes seem to take shape by spots and signs (shadows and lights) emerging from the "sensitive" backgrounds of the canvases, like luminous apparitions. They are geometric figures not yet well identified within the space, which take shape in a large and soft way, on a fabric that retains the layer without densifying it in the glazes or in a showcase surface. In these visions hinted at, by patches of light, by semicircles of signs, the handwriting never writes the image, it does not enclose it in a fully revealed organism, but remains in a sort of affectionate fabulous compromise with the stain: the composition, in some of these first abstract attempts by the artist are now organized as a whole, then a series of abstract notations and intuitions remain, like solfeggi for a "mental" definition within a sensitive limelight.

The second group of works - carried out by Marano in a subsequent period - is distinguished from the first by a greater abstraction of the sensible: that abstract impressionist taste that has gradually perceived Southern Italy in its peripheral echoes, yields the place to a drier way, where Magnelli's lesson is present, both in terms of palette and imagination. Elementary compositions, which are articulated in contours and backgrounds almost seamlessly between empty and full, between space and objects. In this second group of paintings - which is more physiognomic than the first - the artist presents two new characteristics in his painting: the sign becomes more written, but does not lose its original trepidation and if it engraves and scratches like graffiti, this is done not by “ore rotundo” but by continuous hints and strokes of a path, as of a hand that traces, affectionate and familiar, a shape, an itinerary; the backgrounds, on the other hand, which in the previous phase emerged as shadows or spots, thicken and solidify into compact pastes, the colors of which recall - for certain tones on the brick, the yellow of Naples and the slate -, the burnt color of ceramic or terra cotta material. The red earths are in fact prevalent in several paintings of this period, up to the monochrome, like a refrain.

The artist, making use of these highly engraved spellings and relying on his "sense of terracotta", manages to preserve the memory of landscapes and objects to a sometimes suggestive, subtly archaic, "ancient" extent, and discovers images of nature as anagrams or blazons. In these paintings the color is more dense and raised, even if the palette knife crushes it and unidimensioning it, taking on the resigned sonority and splendor of old ivories, as in that landscape emblem, one of the happiest works of the exhibition, entitled «Closed emotion ".

The third group of the artist's works is that of the "reliefs", made both with tube "high pastes" and using ceramics as a high painting paste: for its archaism interior, for its manual vividness, this third phase development of the art of Maranò, should not be considered a noble artisan experiment, or at least that only, but the final point of a first passionate abstract experience. This phase of the «reliefs» is already revealed in the simple and happy painting “Image in terra cotta NI”, up to real ceramics, framed like easel paintings; and with good reason: because they have a preeminent pictorial vision, even if their tactile values ​​are more accentuated than an oil painting on canvas. In this order are to be placed works such as "Landscape (relief)" and that poetic and smiling "City emblem" which in its square connection of parts expresses the unity of the painted thing, from a memory of things seen and lived itineraries .