1978 marks the origin of the work of Hale Arpa whose artistic quest has today come to mature fruition. We must emphasize at the outset of this critical analysis the autonomy and the precocity of her contribution to the international movement characterized by the liberated lyrical-expressive manifestations of pictorial languages to which Italy and Germany, above all, have set their signature. We see this precocity in Woman With Vase dated 1978, which seems to be an essential premise to Arpa’s more recent series of works.
When speaking of the autonomy, or to be more precise, of the originality of the expressive world and the linguistic solution of this artist, we should dwell on the precise distinction and specificity of this painting, as well as its close relation to the German neo-expressionists and the Italian trans-avant-gardists. I believe also that I can accurately point out the originality of the expressive solution discovered by Arpa. I would say that this originality lies in the profound attention she has paid to fauvism with particular reference to Matisse. Arpa is attempting to establish a dialectical relation, or perhaps simply a dialogue – between the new and the antique feminine, erotic-emotional energy and the lesson of order of felicity and liberty presented by the art of Matisse.
That attention she has given to the turn-of-the-century avant-garde art with special reference to Matisse (and an assiduous look at Picasso) explains in part the valuable originality of Hale Arpa’s place on the international horizon to which she fully and unquestionably belongs.
At a time when,
- painting and sculpture were losing density to the point of emaciation,
- meaning was no longer entrusted to the autonomous language of visual or plastic art forms, but to the idea, to the concept, to the theory, in short to all that one can express in words, she participated to the full in that essential and liberating movement of artists from diverse countries.
When in 1978, she initiated the process that led to her recent solutions, she had the fortune or I would prefer to say, the intelligence of having always emphasized the function of painting, its autonomy and its capacity to impart specific meanings, inexpressible in other media. In other words, at that moment, she did not choose a “necessary barbarism” to oppose a reductive refinement, but instead she expressed her own purpose with a freedom that was at the same time complexity.
In this way, Arpa has succeeded in combining the urgent impact of emotions with a rich articulation of language. This articulation of language arises from the multiplicity of her sources of inspiration: a feminine fury, an acute consciousness of the crisis of the socially diffused ideologies, and the impetus towards the creation of a mythography of her own. These facts concretize in an iconography that appears centered on the human figure, and predominantly on the human face; a face enlarged on the canvas and occupying it almost entirely.
Arpa’s work never resolves itself in an unarticulated and indistinct effusion of existential tension. It is never one desperate and repetitive word, but always a sentence, a complex, structure. This painter shows how one can reach an expression without delay, freely, dynamically, without excluding the, “accidents” or neglecting the possibility of an uncontrolled gesture, yet at the same time encompasses the moment of control, I would almost like to say a moment of Project.
May I say that I was a professor of history of art years ago, when Hale Arpa was a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. I no longer teach art students, but instead teach art history students at the University of Florence, Well, I must confess that now and then I regret not having students like her, and I am fortunate to have encountered one of them again on the main roads of the art of our time.
Antonio Del Guercio
Professor of History of Contemporary Art,
University of Florence
Who is Antonio Del Guercio?
‘’I have been a professor of History of Contemporary Art at the Lecce and Florence Universities. I have organized many exhibitions of contemporary art in both Italy and abroad. I have a long list of critically acclaimed publications from the early 1960s. One of my most widely known works is “Parigi 1755-1955. Arte e Critica d’Arte Nel Centro Della Modernita” (1997).’’