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Wood and gold, darkness and light

· Artist ·

When a woman is ancient

like water and the moon,
from the moon she observes the water flowing.
She observes, she listens. And she is silent.

Margherita Pavesi

The honesty of her artistic profile, the certainty of her expressive means, the originality of the forms and the very human content of her work that never fades: Christ, the pilgrim, men and women searching, the poor, the oppressed, suffering, contemplation, silence – all these have made and make of Margherita Pavesi a figure who has her own space and dignity in Italian contemporary art.

Pavesi’s works actualize sacred painting without betrayal. Her “woods” are a figure, a principal point on which her art turns: transfigured wood, authentic contemporary icons, with concise and intense features capable of conferring abstraction on the most gentle images and tenderness on the most tragic: and, indispensably, pure gold, to illuminate from within the simplicity of the subject and to project it in an eschatological light, against a horizon of eternity in which all is saved and shared for ever. Before these works it is possible to listen, to speak, to pray. Pavesi’s icons open our eyes to the invisible, they invite us to penetrate the lands of heaven, they unfold spaces of inhabited silence. Transfigured woods, in which nature and history, the person and the cosmos encounter one another: it is as though the ancient wood continued to live and to be transformed thanks to the sequence of events recounted, and the latter brought forth from the wood roots and depth, pregnant with memory and with age, drawing from it the fragmentary nature of the moment and projecting it into a history without beginning or end. Poverty as a path of beauty and grandeur!

Pavesi wrote: “There is nothing cerebral in what I do, nothing constructed; if anything there is a humble thought that wants to become an idea, but also a great tribulation because these works involve my whole self”. Even in an anguished search, she has been able to confront the most varied materials, from humble wood to precious gold. Her work is a continuous challenge to understand first of all herself, then the world and others, while constantly remaining in dialogue, in the dialogue between the human creature and the Creator. The essentiality of her compositions, highly tactile, assemblies of wood, jute, objects and paper, make them almost a means for a continuously renewed creation. This is testified to with a special passion and sensitivity by her “women”: their beauty and their sacredness as holders of fertility make them radically involved in the design of the creation. It is in the female faces, often injured and humiliated but for this very reason regal and strong, that she has always preserved the hope, like a dream which has not yet come to an end and is still to be fulfilled.

Margherita Pavesi, “The Samaritan Woman” (mixed technique and gold on solid wood)

Colour too – in a constant struggle to emerge from the darkness of her paintings, a darkness inhabited by forms, achievements and invocations – seems to be light that wants to and must come out of the night. Her nocturnal countrysides might at first sight communicate a feeling of loneliness and anguish, but a more attentive look enables one to realize that a tension passes through them which does not flow into suffering, a tension which is cultivated in a profound spirituality and which has turned its gaze on high. Moving in the space of the daily routine, it reuses scraps and remains, it grasps the simplicity and richness of actions and expresses all its compassion for the human being’s condition, for which it is ceaselessly searching, in a space of darkness but also of light and hidden colours.

It is this simple, rare treasure, innervated by an original poetic force, which Margherita Pavesi has consigned to us. A life marked by waiting and searching. It is a wait brimming with passion for every creature, for a face, the face of man and the face of God, which can never substitute one another. In her works a creative itinerary unwinds in which her full inner force is represented through a language which is as ancient as man and for this reason eternally present. Her whole work has thus been able to become healing for everyone who encounters it, with an eloquent silence that penetrates more deeply than any other language spoken.

The Sisters of Bose




St. Peter’s Square

Jan. 17, 2020