Artistic collaboration is rare in visual arts. But when it does happen, the impressions created can be as startling as the combined artworks of Italian artists Lisa Borgiani and Massimo Nidini.
With efficient deference, Borgiani, a photographer, uses her camera to capture images that express her thoughts and tell a story; Nidini, a painter, then adds diversity, vivacious colour and full-bodied texture to those visual representations with powerful strokes of his brush.
These works, then, see a return to the relationship of two traditionally opposed media — photography and painting.
“The beauty of light and all the games I can play with it animates me in picture taking,'' Borgiani says.
“It means to enter another world with a sublime moment; and when I tangle with it, I get the right shot. A good eye, good construction of the image, attention and curiosity are all that one needs to be professional in the process.''
No matter what her pictures — symbols of the most important capitals in the world, colonial townhouses or even a depiction of a unifying idea — they exude a vitality and spirit, quite like the woman herself.
Borgiani started out with reportages and during her formative years, much before she undertook any formal course, she was already developing black and white photos in her dark room. It was her belief — that art is about innate talent, vision, research and process and development — that led her to embrace digital technology as her tool of choice.
Armed with a Canon EOS 350D camera, Borgiani outshines the famous locations around the world in a particular scene and develops them on media such as steel sheets, canvas, panel, wood, and marble. These designs, often amazing in their visual effects, serve as a pedestal for Nidini to coalesce photographic idiom and bubbly brushstrokes.
“I met Massimo [Nidini] in his studio,'' Borgiani says. “He has been a painter for 40 years and since the beginning he showed an interest in studying my photos. He really liked them and asked me to do some tests with his painting. I loved the result.''
By enhancing the strength and beauty of the distinctly dissimilar art forms, the duo styles a combination that becomes an expression of two techniques, two minds and two different feelings in one work.
The prodigious manner in which Nidini follows Borgiani's themes elicits awe. He perfectly imparts and paints in the highest saturation all the features Borgiani wishes to express in the prints but which seem to fail to catch the senses.
“It takes a long time to discuss what to do,'' Nidini says. “Sometimes even months; the rest then comes out. We start continuing lines and shapes of the photos in a bigger support and that is how we work together, mixing the two media.''
Perspective, he says, is the most important thing. The lines, then, naturally define the visual and visceral context. “I follow the photos' dimensions and paint the rest with the use of the fantasy.''
Withal, these essential qualities have more to say. Rather than visual plenitude, they refer to the instants in abstract and sometimes figurative representations derived promptly by the natural tendency.
The photographic prints give the first idea of the subject, whereas the painting is its unreal continuation.
Sometimes, however, it is the opposite. For instance, in Dancing with Centre Pompidou and the Moon, they explain: “Until the beginning of time, art dances free in all its splendour. Sinuous in form, it continues as a length of endless ribbon and in her expression. Tourists' curiosity allows itself to be ushered up the fluid red staircase of Georges Pompidou plaza — a modern art museum in Paris.''
“This staircase from the glass door to the feet of the plaza — a vain art that slowly releases its flavour — continues footstep after footstep until Paris decides to enchant us from its heights. The moon, accompanying the movement of the red staircase, and Pompidou, can keep on dancing to create new forms, letting the masterpieces freely express the feelings inside themselves.
“The red line drawn by escalator marks the union of the different artistic phases. That red characterises passion.''
The main subjects in the artwork are the stairs of the Pompidou [the photos] and the dancer that is art [painting]. “It depicts how the stairs continue with the ribbon of the dancer, again which is art,'' Borgiani says.
One of their favourite works is Rosso in Gabbia — red in the cage. Red, Borgiani says, is the strength that lives inside all of us. There are those who live with it, those who avoid it and those who fight with and against it, to love and to hate it.
“The Red in a Cage is a suffering heart that tries to escape from a destiny nobody can design. It is the history of the colour red — composed in ten prints — and its shades that leave their mark . The red fire is untameable. If repressed, it suffers for its incapability to find its way free and express creativeness and imagination,'' she says.
Borgiani and Nidini, members of ASC, an Italian Art Association, implement this lucrative art niche into their workplace's product offerings. Consulting Image is their art studio based in Verona, Italy.
“It works on projects for the realisation of original Italian works of art for interior designers, architects, hotels and residences,'' Borgiani says. “With their own quality certification, all paintings are Italian hand made and unique, with no copies.''
Moreover, as a member of Amnesty International, Borgiani follows its initiatives for human rights — an affiliation that started when she did some photos on orphanhood in Argentina.
What if both get well-versed in both procedures? Will they go independent?
“I have learnt painting and I still do it; but the best way I can express my feelings and ideas is through photography. It is the same for Massimo [Nidini]. We prefer working this way. Me with my photos and Massimo with his painting. We hope to keep this feeling,'' Borgiani says.
Layla Haroon is a freelance writer based in Abu Dhabi.
Works of Lisa Borgiani and Massimo Nidini will be on show at the Ghaf Art Gallery, Abu Dhabi from April 23 to May 2.