Paola Boni’s paintings are not simple still-life paintings, but pictorial creatures, chromatic realities nourished by a distinctive brightness and transparency. They are everyday objects, symbols of a conscience at peace with itself and the wider world, satisfied by the little things – not things in poor taste, but things that bring to mind the pleasure of quality, cleanliness, composition. This is what Paola Boni’s canvases tell us: not an insignificant message in a world like the one we live in, dominated by so many other components.
Glass predominates in her paintings, urging her paintbrush on, creating effects of transparency and vibration paired with the fluidity of liquid: glasses, jugs and bottles feature in almost every painting,ever-present icons that help the painter demonstrate her masterful skills: here, light condenses and oscillates, depicted with meticulous, clearly-defined brushstrokes; there, ceramics and porcelain sparkle. The result is a lucid painting immersed in a space that is constructed and delimited with certainty, where what prevails is the harmony of the composition and the extreme neatness of the colours, which light up the painting and assert themselves thanks to fitting choices, including as part of the backdrop. The contours of her paintings are remarkable for their soft precision: the solidity of the materials seems delicately subdued, and objects are stripped of their weight, rejoicing in a lightness of being that is almost metaphysical. While today we talk about the return of a new neo-realism that aims to reinstate the concrete representation of reality, mixing documentation with invention and visually immersing the viewer in the essence of truth, Boni has a penchant for what could be described as neo-twentieth century art. She also knows how to use the occasional fantastical, dream-like element, mixing them into her work with her own unique style, subverting everyday combinations with wandering interlopers that create amusing, ironic touches in places. At times, her work brings to mind the gleam of Morandi’s objects or the neat, sculpted contours of Donghi, Tozzi, and Casorati.
But in competition with photography, particularly in her still lifes, she reveals instead the contemporaneity of her work, the very thin line that divides different means of representation today and their cross-contamination – the symbol of post-modernity. The explosive vitality of fruit at its most ripe, water and wine symbolizing life and regeneration, glass and crystal that call to mind purity, clarity of thought and lucidity of spirit: without doubt, Boni’s vision is a positive one, as mentioned before. Individual images in her paintings, precisely because of how they are depicted, cannot fail to reveal a deeper metaphorical meaning hidden in the straightforward simplicity of the everyday. It is our job to enter inside and try to decode these invisible symbols, symbols found in every genuine work of art, as opposed to the work of mere hobbyists.
Anna Maria Ruta