Toti Carpentieri

Art Critic


This is not an exhibition to watch, it is an exhibition to see. There is a substantial difference between the two terms, since what the eye catches is transmitted directly to the brain and then to the heart.

For those who, like me a few years ago, deal with the theory of perception and psychology of the form at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lecce, the discussion is even simpler, because Carla Sello is not only involved in a painting undertaking, but in a much more complex operation that transversally taps on overwhelming issues in mystical science, religiosity and alchemy. So, this is an exhibition to be seen through the many eyes of our perceptive abilities. Here we have paintings, square-shaped pictorial operations with an embedded circle. The circle delimits the territory.

The circle defends its contents. This is the fundamental concept. But who is at the center? Man is at the center, we all are. All around there is something to protect ourselves from, and here is a sort of rotating freesia horse. The circle and other recurring symbols are often geometric symbols, such as the triangle and the square – however, the circle is the most basic because it is the easiest to draw: simply tie a rope to a stick and pull it around, and there you get a circle.

We have thus delimited a territory – like in the ad seen on TV which depicts the “circle around you” as a protection.

Carla’s painting-and-sculpture effort works both along a plane and along three-dimensional spaces. It is not true that circularity is merely flat – here the circularity is spherical.

I was mentioning mystical science. The mystique is fundamentally related to Hindu and Buddhist beliefs in which there is an attempt to recover tranquility, a search for pacification within the self. If we build a sort of defense around us, it is because we are desperately seeking some serenity and tranquility. This does not mean eliciting a static process, but rather a sort of kinetic balance in which what is born comes to be, and vice versa. So the pictorial operation of the construction dominates, and pushes for a process of analysis and synthesis: the analysis of the parameters,

of the symbols with which to build the figures, and the synthesis of a construction that goes directly from the eyes to the brain, and then to the heart.

The symbol of the circle has many meanings and has existed since the dawn of mankind.

The Aztec calendars, for example, show a series of concentric circles that we also admire on the windows of

Romanesque or Gothic cathedrals, which indicate the birth and the circularity of life.

Also the Zen monks divide the circular shapes into quadrants in which to build figures with sand, and eventually destroy the work they have just completed.

Carla Sello’s message is not only aesthetic, a beautiful painting with balances always open to new formulas, to expressive modalities that go from the geometric figure to the real figure, to the animal one, down to the smallest detail: she also pays great attention so that a progressive state of tranquility and serenity may be achieved.

The images speak for themselves. Carl Gustav Jung said that each of us experiences particular emotional and psychological situations, and he would ask his patients to represent such situations in a pictorial way. The subsequent reading of the images would highlight the chemistry of the individual’s life, which goes through four states.

The first is the state of combustion, then comes the liquefaction, the solidification, and the sublimation.

The combustion indicates the need the heat has to burn the original matter. In the mandalic image it corresponds, from a chromatic point of view, to the dark colors and to the black. Once burned, the matter turns into ashes and takeson a white color that can be diluted with water (liquefaction), until the blue color comes out. In the solidification state, the fundamental matter is sulfur, a spirit element linked to magic and represented by the yellow color. Finally, the sublimation, that is the direct passage from the solid to the gaseous state, without passing through the liquid state. This indicates the need to go further on, towards a higher reality. But it also means that the opposites should be overcome, such as those of the black and the white, of the good and the evil, of the male and the female. There, we reach the fundamental aspect of the whole structure: the mystical operation in which, as happens in the yin and yang, the two opposing subjects come together to form a circularity.

This is an exhibition that speaks to the heart. An exhibition that is the synthesis of Carla Sello’s commitment to the youth through a school, a story, an understanding of how to get to certain solutions. Something that, first of all, requires attention, patience and professional skills.

A profession that teaches how to paint, to use the material, to use the color, to understand the difference between the various types of materials, between one type of relationship and another.

The chromatic contrast – blue vs red, yellow vs purple, orange vs blue – is part of the theory of perception an

synchrony of the form, in which the compositional operation makes us understand the message of painting: a straight forward message when the images are figurative, more complex and difficult when the images are abstract. In this case, the shapes are very readable and immediate thanks to their simplicity: the rim, the wheel, the flower.

Furthermore, let us not forget the remarkable relationship with the science: the numerical sequences, the numerical repetition, the succession, the petals of the flower that unfold following precise mathematical patterns.

Carla had also mentioned to me the vescica piscis, or mystical almond, on which she had been working to set up the construction of the image, following specific rules. The vescica piscis is a sort of almond drawn vertically with a particular construction. It is made up of two circles with the same radius, which intersect in such a way that the center of each circle is placed on the circumference of the other. This fundamental symbol is found in much of the history of contemporary art, and it is drawn upside down among the Christians: the ichthys (ἰχθύς) which,

if multiplied by twelve forms a wheel, and which becomes later also an algebraic and a mathematical symbol, corresponding to the square root of 3, the result of which is 1.73205081. The number 153 is contained therein, which, in the Gospels, indicates the number of the fish caught.

My advice is that the visitor stand for a while in front of each individual work, to try and understand why that work was born, what procedures were utilized to create it, what were the conditions – such as the itineraries leading to the image – and, of course, that he/she follows that construction step by step, alone or with the artist, until reaching a state of total serenity, the serenity that should endow us with the beauty that saves the world, although the path to salvation is not the easiest of all.