|Jar of Marbles, Oil on canvas, 120 x100 cms, 2012|
I wrote in January 2012 (Blog 139) of Patrice Lombardi's Peach Blossom, then on show at the Medici Gallery. It was part of a body of work based on the garden of Villa La Pietra in Florence. There Lombardi transformed the Limonaia (the lemon house of the villa) into a gallery where her work was exhibited. Her intention was to create a garden within a garden, where the internal space of the Limonaia was linked to the external space of the walled garden and then beyond to the rest of the garden.
Her new exhibition is at the International Dispute Resolution Centre in Fleet Street. At the opening a distinguished Fine Art Consultant commented on the harmony and stillness of her new collection, reminiscent, she said, of some early Italian Renaissance painters. What came to my mind was the 20C Italian painter Giorgio Morandi's ability to bring out the unique qualities of an object, each of which he 'approached with awe'.
I've chosen The Jar of Marbles from her new collection. Marbles, given an inch of leeway, scatter and run in every direction. For centuries children have played with them in gutters and in palaces. In the 1960s I bought for my own children a marble run and a three-dimensional set of Noughts and Crosses, where marbles have to obey the rules. Here in a humble preserving jar there are no rules. We have a crowd of different sizes, weights and colours. Their faces are jammed against the glass walls.The jar stands there on guard, like a regimental soldier. It has a sense of vulnerability. Breach those walls and the contents would spill and scatter and splinter far and wide.
The glassy contents seem to shimmer against its strong background, which is nothing like the monochrome flat colours that flash past our eyes in advertisements. It appears to be layered, built up gradually, beguilingly different and alive. Jar of Marbles conveys a sense of time, of the stretch and reach of memory, and the invisible presence which made this painting possible.
The Basket, Oil on Canvas,120 cm x 120 cm,2008
And here is a basket. Just a basket? Each colour is achingly simple and flows in harmony. The shape is familiar and has been used for centuries. Undoubtedly it has been a godsend to artists who tucked it under the arms of pretty maidens in a pastoral scene. But it jags at rougher memories of onions and apples, and spears of flowers drooping over the edge. And of being a scented portable pantry storing food through scarce winter months. Until you tire of restless associations, reach out to the unique qualities of this particular basket and approach it with awe.