Barbara Pietrasanta’s figurative style is clearer and precise, but her paintings suggest a vision of reality that is loaded with fascinatingly complex existential and psychological meaning, seen from a markedly female perspective.
In her pictorial research the artist brings into play all the main themes linked to a profound sense of life, of the relationship between men and women and in particular of the perplexing question of individual identity. Two paintings clearly exemplify the way in which Pietrasanta has dealt with these questions. The first, entitled ‘Il gioco della vita’ (the game of life), looks down on a billiard table, where one hand is seen hitting a ball with a cue, another hand is throwing the dice on the table and at the bottom we see from behind the head and bare shoulders of a woman who is leaning forward and resting her head on the table. The underlying meaning of this work has no need of explanation and yet the symbolic connotations do not detract from the expressive force of the work. The other work is one of the most recent and is a group of sixteen small canvasses making up a polyptych. We see the faces of a man and a woman, with tense and worried expressions. A tin of red paint separates the two faces. Only the words in English: ‘why’, ‘who’, ‘when’, ’they’ appear, sometimes superimposed, on the other panels. Here, too, the question asked is clear, but there are no certain answers. In some other paintings, the female figure is the only protagonist.
In ‘Petrolio’ (Oil), a nude figure (reminiscent of Botticelli’s Venus but with black hair) stands in the clear water that is about to be contaminated with oil. In ‘Ovulation’, in clear homage to Indian mythology, the kneeling female nude has many arms and her many hands hold eggs, symbols of fertility and life.