You don’t know what I am capable of


You don’t know what I am capable of

An exhibit organized on January 25th 2019 at the Museo MIIT
“Leonardo For Ever” Contemporary genius between reality and the abstract Solo exhibit of Personale di Santina Portelli “Art as the light of existence

Why is there a solo exhibit of Santina Portelli to close this exhibit de-dicated to the genius of Leonardo Da Vinci? The answer lies in the profound and symbolic vision of the message of love, peace and beauty which is always manifested in the work of a great artist of emotion such as Santina Portelli. Light assumes a redemptive value in her paintings, impalpable and spiritual, a metaphor of a hopeful and faithful exsistence. The shades calibrated with refined poetry and lightness tell us about the essence of a both sensitive pictorial soul and a strong one at the same time, determined to represent the world and life itself through a profound and interior vision.

By Ramonda Marina

You don’t know what I am capable of
You don’t know what I am capable of
You don’t know what I am CAPABLE of
of carrying you in my arms, of holding your hand until the last day,
of drinking all your tears, of laughing about this, of surprising you with made up stories,
you don’t know what I am capable of
defending you form those violent, ignorant eyes, from those hands that hurt you,
saying what I think and risking my life, being alone in front of that cannon,
going down into the river, rescuing you once more from the brink
and leaving you with a peaceful gaze on the shore,
you don’t know what I am capable of
giving you all the oxygen I have, saving you from the cold with caresses,
Reminding you for hours what a beautiful person you are when you are surroun-ded by shit,
You don’t know what I am capable of
you still don’t know me although my heart beats to the rhythm of yours,
no, you don’t know what I am capable of, no
you think that kindness hides weakness,
a smile “not being there”
turning the head “going elsewhere”,
no, you don’t know what I am capable of
I am gathering my strengths
the kindness is scraping the bottom of my love towards life,
the smile is her caress, it wipes off that mud that surrounds you
and I turn my head to change perspective
I try to take you away towards different horizons
no, you don’t know what I am capable of
I am here and screaming it to the world
you turn around and say
Let’s go!

The sunset in art


The sunset in art

Exhibit organised on 17 Nov 2018
at Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie Milano

It is a great cliché to think of the “sunset” and associate it to the word “end”.
If we think about the marvellous sunsets that nature bestows upon us, their vibrant colours full of energy and life, it all seems to indicate a beginning rather than an end.
Therefore nature itself seems to subvert this concept. In art as well, there can be a path that leads to a sunset, and al-so in this case, the sunset is a suspended period of time, a pe-riod of waiting, that leads to an end but at the same time antici-pates a beginning, of reflection or renewal, both of the artist and the art.
Let’s watch this sunset together….

By Santina Portelli

Art is born with man’s ability to speak and will continue to live so long as man shall speak. That’s why there is no sunset of art but only a sunset in art. What does Santina Portelli want to tell us with this artistic proposal of hers, with this title that she has decided to give to her artistic proposal? The possible readings and interpretations can be very simple and immediate but we do not tend to, as per our work, to stop at obvious appearances. Have we ever asked ourselves for example why out a painting of the Ecce Homo giving the painting a name that is particularly connected to the present “I am here” and organizing the same painting with a rock-solid force as support and as the crude and naked reality of a time. A Christ without thorns because he is already set/trapped in stone? Let’s go back to the question after having searched for a way to orient ourselves, how to navigate in a sea such as the one the argonauts found themselves navigating in with their little boat Argo passing through the Symplegades.

(Symplegadi (from the greek syn, together, and plésso, strike, hit) are, in greek mythology a group of islands, known as the Cyanean Rocks, at the entrance of the Euxine Sea (now the Black Sea). Legend had it that these islands continuously clashed into one another (giving them their name), and as such creating a danger for the seamen who navigated those waters. They were crossed by Jason and the Argonauts during the search for the Golden Fleece.)
What are then our strong points, our dangerous islands that also serve as doors whose thresholds we have to learn to cross? I propose two names: Ovid and Samuel Beckett.

Why Ovid? Why Beckett? To talk about the artistic life of Santina Portelli?

Ovid: because he was exiled to Tomis, today’s Costanza in Romania on the Black Sea, by Octavian Augustus (Ceaser’s adopted son) after publishing the Metamorphosis. In Rome, in the Scuderie del Quirinale, an exhibit about Ovid is held. Loves, myths and other stories until January 20th 2019. With the metamorphosis, the text that makes Ovid quite famous during his lifetime, the emperor feels that his work of constructing the empire is put at risk by this 15 book poem that shows the metamorphosis of life from the primordial chaos to Ovid’s lifetime passing through myths and narratives inside narratives. Ovid becomes exiled and changes his writing style, actually, he learns the local language in order to continue writing.

When I found myself asking Santina how come she had decided so young to be a sculptor? Her polite and energetic response was: in order to bend destiny to my disability and in order to do that, sculpture is the most appropriate. Therefore, sculpture, as a metaphor of an existential condition to take possession of without being dominated by it. A strength that looks for an appropriate tool to express itself. But there isn’t just strength in Santina, what’s more, her strength draws energy from her infinite and never fulfilled desire. Lacan says a wish comes true but is never fulfilled. It’s the pulsation, that is energy, on the other hand, that is always fulfilled, that demands satisfaction. That is why a pulsation, without the objective that is given to it by desire, proves its own destructiveness, continuously. Santina’s art is a hymn to the costruens that her desire to be, her will to live constantly gives her. But she has nonetheless had to go from sculpture and make do with painting, she has had to accept putting something there where sculpture meant taking it out, adding by digging. Maybe that is why her painting always leaves a slightly relief trace. Just like the painting where the chair at the water’s edge in front of the sea shows concretely the feeble and determined presence of a life suspended between the sea and the land but also one that can tie together the encounter of the sea which continues to physically and concretely caress the body of the earth with its waves while the chair is there to signal the awaiting of a body that is about to arrive.

Or the chair in a blue room which is facing a window which is nothing more than a painting that opens itself up to the colors of the world. An artifact similar to Ovid’s metamorphosis when he uses the technique of “entrelacement” in order to maintain the reader’s attention level high. Another conspicuous point is offered to me by Samuel Beckett when he says: we are all born crazy, then some of us remain that way and again we are all born suffering, then some of us manage to understand how to suffer better. It is not about paying tribute to Beckett’s nihilism but it is about recognizing the great existential suggestion that he is able to propose with his striking formula. Beckett’s great intellectual calibre represents, with its clear esthetic and conceptual immediacy, the matter of existential drama of every one of us and, at a time, the discretional and vital space that every one can actually have in their own life. And so our Santina Portelli who, with her existential metamorphosis, goes from playing/eating colors, to wanting to bend destiny to her disability; to organizing a confrontational kind of painting, of necessary immediacy in order to communicate or scream her feelings; to the need of a path of emancipation as a premise to an action that makes her more aware of her own experience by making a life choice; to arrive then to a painting of encounter as she herself decides to call the four great phases of her life as an artist.

It is not a surprise that the choice is made after the degree in psychology and the painting of encounter that comes out of it doesn’t lose its piercing sculpture-like concreteness that she puts into colors, on the traced line on the canvas. A trace that shows raw flesh to a live and experienced existence. In this exhibit, the use of the Ecce Homo as a powerful testimony of the “I am here” is a call to listen, to encounter the discretion of the listener and it addresses everyone with its one-by-one presentation. The listener’s discretion has to do with the culture we are all associated to and it is precisely this culture which, for its nature, transcends every one of us, all the while producing our own existences, that Santina’s art means to address. It is the culture that addresses its appeal made of sculpted and traced images.
Hers is a great act of culture even more than a message to give to those who wish to encounter it. An act of culture which leaves a mark, which carves its words in the flesh of the culture which welcomes us. Today, this culture is represented by the Sacrestia della Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie. Tomorrow, for example, it will be represented at the Casa della Psicologia or at the festival of expression Stanze di Psiche.

Artists are one step ahead of psychoanalysts because, just like psychotic people, they operate openly with the difference that artists know the tools they use. Furthermore, with its instruments, art can build social relationships while science tends to build discrimination and segregation even with a simple, banal diagnosis. Nomination in science classifies, distinguishes, segregates. Nomination in art is given to the actions of the artist who opens towards a plurality of effects of meaning and life that everyone can draw from. Art is generous because it presents itself in its immediacy. Art that knows how to bend its own destiny is at once a gift, a for-give-ness and an existential redemption just as we can learn from her expressive energy from none other than Santina Portelli.

Giuseppe Oreste Pozzi
Member of the International Association of Psychoanalysis
Clinical Director of Artelier

Watercolours tell a story


Watercolours tell a story

Exhibit organised on May 16th 2019
at Galleria Spazio ARTLINE

I cheated

Yesterday evening, when I finished setting up the exhibition “Watercolours tell a story…”, although I liked it very much and although it was one of the rare times in which I was satisfied with myself and my collaborators, I felt something inexplicable, as if something wasn’t quite right.
This morning when I woke up I had a flash, un night and I felt mortified as if I had done the most terrible thing in the world. Me, the person who is always trying to be as fair as possible in everything I do, me, the one who “tries” … Why? Suddenly, the exhibition that I had finished came to my mind and all that joy I felt yesterday evening all of a sudden disappeared, I start thinking that there weren’t any oil paintings there and I feel so unfair, so ungrateful towards oil colours that I have loved so much and that have given so much satisfaction in my career.

Me, who had proclaimed to everyone that I would never stop doing oil paintings and consequently would never betray it on behalf of my health nor the practice of less tiring and easier techniques…… I CHEATED ON IT.
I SWEAR AND PROMISE that I will put on an exhibition of ONLY OIL PAINTINGS and I will make it so, so big that it will astonish you.

l’invisibile presente

The invisible present

I remember when the term “invisible present” saw the light of day.
On a day of “creative need”, we performed an experiment: we silently watched one of your videos of about 10 minutes, featuring your artwork and music chosen by you (present on the Home page).
We decided that when it ended, “while still hot” we would write down what it had prompted in us and out of a long list came out “the invisible present”.

An oil painting was born from it and than a solo exhibit, and now we are thinking about a traveling exhibit. At the time you asked me: “Marina why?” Why was this definition so strong that it went beyond time, so much so that is always seems relevant? I think the invisible present… is you Tina.
You have the ability to give life to something that is not there, which is really only hidden, and this happens in your paintings and in human relationships.

In your art it is as if the painting needed to have oxygen and light, you can tell from your winds, the sea currents, the lights which are always in movement and one minute they are one colour the next moment they are different… And yet the artwork is not a video! But you can also tell from the subjects of your artwork, which are never just what you see… but they imply… stories.
From those oranges thrown on the table, that seem to evoke your father upon returning from the market, who seemed to tell you with a gesture: “Look at me women, look at how handsome and good I am!”, or “Una storia, tante storie” [One story, many stories] where a bench in the corner of an old wall makes each of us think of our own past and its uniqueness.

Many times the protagonist of your solo exhibits is the emotion.
How can one forget that elderly lady who, upon seeing a painting of yours that depicted a woman who was looking at her house, said “that’s me and that’s my house”, or that couple where the wife couldn’t peel her eyes off one of the paintings and she kept crying and saying: “that’s me!”, the piece depicted a corner of a house with an abandoned doll, face down, or the one who saw God in that small white dot in the “Risalita” [The way back up].
Some years ago you decided to introduce the concept of the “invisible” barrier in your university seminars on evolutionary psychology, a concept that’s very dear to you as you had experienced it on the field.
You were referring to that barrier which always separates disabled people from healthy ones, even the ones who sincerely believed they didn’t have one. (See psychology in all the seminars)

Overcoming barriers was one of the many reasons that brought you closer to Mojoca (Movement of young boys and girls off the streets in Guatemala) and made you adhere to Amistrada, which is the international friendship network which supports the Movement’s projects. Even there you looked for our invisible present, it is clear in the text “Io e le ragazze di strada del Guatemala” [Myself and the girls from the streets of Guatemala] always against the current to look for understanding, relationships that weren’t in pre-established schemes: you write “what do an Italian disabled woman and a Guatemalan street girl have in common?” (See text and link in Contacts)

Therefore the invisible present is you for your ability to see it at the time already, to understand and express the “unsaid”, to find the synthesis and the truth from yourself and in the people and things that surround you, with the ability to bring the best out onto the surface.
Of course, people admire you for your diligence in life, but they love you for your ability to bring out “the best in them” to light: that part of them that gets them to make peace with themselves, which motivates them to hope and fight, which makes them feel less alone.

Whether you use a brush or a dialogue.

If everything and more is what you are, a way of being and living life, your website could not have been called other than