Guillermina De Gennaro, Dimore per api, paper, iron, sand, variable dimensions, 2004.




SEGRETE DIMORE  (1992-1999)

Ho iniziato il lavoro delle dimore negli anni 90 dopo aver seguito un corso universitario di filosofia morale intitolato “il viaggio e la dimora” (F. Semerari, Univ. Di Bari).
In particolare dopo aver letto il testo di Gaston Bachelard, la poetica dello spazio, si è aperto un mondo, enigmatico e poetico che mi ha tenuta in suspense fino ad oggi. Il segreto della dimora, intesa come costruzione di spazi per il corpo e per la mente è più di un argomento, è la vita stessa che si svela in diverse strutture, immagini e racconti.

Così, riflettendo sul nido dei volatili, sui tunnel sotterranei delle talpe, sui magici alveari delle api, manipolando materiali come carte di ogni specie, colle, sabbie, cere e luce, ho provato a ripercorrere il modus operandi di codeste strutture, costruendo probabili favi giganteschi, lunghissimi tunnel bianchi, piccoli nidi vuoti in attesa di essere colmati.
E analizzando di volta in volta, a seconda dell’animale preso in causa, comportamenti e abitudini che spingono questi esseri ad agire, a cercare, a trovare strategie di sopravvivenza.
Pensando poi agli altri animali, quegli che guardano oltre, talmente alti e belli da non poter evidentemente crearsi un involucro per il proprio essere, ho creduto che la propria pelle maculata e pezzata in un disegno a moduli, potesse essere lei stessa nido, cuccia, tana, dimora segreta per questi esseri adagiati stupendamente sulla terra, quasi inadatti qui e in cerca di una nuova forza di gravità.

Analogamente gli uccelli, in perenne viaggio verso climi adatti alla loro specie, sono gli esseri che dimorano (nidi) e viaggiano (voli migratori) contemporaneamente in tutta la loro esistenza, alla ricerca di nuovi habitat.

Anche noi esseri umani viviamo in una geografia che prima di tutto segna un territorio, e poi traccia il perimetro dove costruiamo la nostra casa, e decidiamo di proteggerci, creare e sviluppare il nostro esistere. Così la nostra casa natale è più di un alloggio, è il luogo del sogno, dove ogni strato, soffitta, camera, cantina, corridoio diventa rifugio della nostra solitudine, del nostro pensiero.

Ho costruito così dimore seriali di carta, ferro colle e luce, immerse o sommerse dall’acqua, nella loro forma primordiale, semplice e simbolica, quella che si disegna da bambini per rappresentarne la sagoma.

Attualmente sono ancora alla ricerca della mia dimora perduta, forse quella che ho lasciato da bambina nell’altro emisfero, che non abbandonai con lo sguardo fino a che divenne un puntino bianco perso nell’orizzonte sfuocato e che racchiude ancora in un pugno tutti i miei segreti.



Pietro Marino, art critic, interview with Guillermina De Gennaro

Interview with Guillermina De Gennaro

We are here in Bari, at the old fishing harbour of the city, with Guillermina De Gennaro.

You were born in Argentina of Italian parents, but you have been living in Apulia since you were seven years old; so we chose this place also because the sea, water, journey, are as important themes in your life as they are in your art. That’s why we have to talk about them together, and I would start from the work you’re going to present in Rotterdam for the Watershed project, which has been set right in the waters of a canal. Would you please talk about it?

The work I’m going to present in Rotterdam consists of twenty 2 x 3m floating faces, which will be placed on the surface of the water in Rotterdam, near the New York Hotel; the hotel is actually a symbolic, historical place, since it was from this very hotel that ships left for America between the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when the huge migrations started. Therefore, it was important to me to start from that historical landmark.

Are the faces paintings or photographs?

They are both photographs and paintings, since Iactually start from photography and then I process it through digital and traditional painting; for this installation, I created digital prints on panels for technical reasons -so that they could be put on water.

Do these panels wander in the water? Are they fixed? How are they arranged?

The panels wander on the water; of course, they will be anchored and placed under a pedestrian bridge, so they can be seen from above as well as from the quay of the Wilhelminapier.

Remembering what I have seen on other occasions, those faces that you photograph and paint are usually young and attractive, but I think their eyes are deeply melancholy; sometimes I see a kind of strange resignation, and then, as you said, they’re floating, but it seems they are adrift like castaways, like wrecks. Why this choice?

It’s true, I chose melancholy, nostalgic, and often beautiful faces, young faces of adolescents and women, since I aimed to emphasize the beauty and courage contained in the act of traveling, of leaving everything to go towards the unknown, actually, towards a better destiny, towards possible destinies. Today, we are surrounded, every day we read tragic newspaper articles about ships and bodies and of people left in the sea, and so I thought of them, but not of the despair of this whole situation, just of the courage and beauty behind all this; that’s why I chose neutral faces.

Yes, of course, I understand. You know, we experienced those stories you’ve mentioned also here in Bari, with the famous arrival of the Albanians aboard the “Vlora” in 1991. It’s been 21 years now. And actually, in the faces you portray I don’t see a collective drama or social renunciation, that’s not your world. What you’re interested in, I suppose, is the personal story conveyed by those faces, a story to tell, that we do not know and will never know. On the other hand, as you say, I have the impression that, although we look at them from above, it seems as if it is they who look at us. I suppose that through them, you really want to tell us something about yourself, don’t you?

Yes, I do. Indeed, my childhood, my own story resurfaces through those faces. I also experienced a detachment, a definitive detachment from my Argentina, and then I went away with my whole family, luggage, trunks, my siblings, my grandmother, etc. .. We crossed the ocean on a ship and I will never forget my home, which I stared at until it became a tiny white point; my eyes did not want to break away from that point, but in the end I had to, and it disappeared; thus, this memory is still alive inside me and now resurfaces through those faces.

You said they are anonymous faces of unknown people, but sometimes you have happened to usethe faces of famous people.

It’s true, they are often unknown faces, but once I chose to use Sinéad O’Connor’s face.

Sinéad O’Connor is an important singer.

Exactly. I chose her, because I was struck by her beauty, so strong, so clean, in contrast with her anger, her angry attitude; I remember that she was very angry with the Pope in the late ‘80s. She expressed such a strong anger also through her beauty, that’s why I once used her face and wrote on her head “Don’t touch my brain”, almost recalling an Italian advertising slogan.

This sentiment of life as nature also implies the dimension of sound; is there anything about it in this dimension of space and time, maybe a personal relationship with music or not?

Yes, there is. Even the previous installation presented in Brindisi in 2010, where there was a dock in a beautiful castle, the Alfonsino Castle on the sea, consisted of 20 floating giant-size pictures, accompanied by loud melancholy music, sad music, as a tribute to those lives that were lying on water; the sound was by Giovanni Sollima, a composer and a cellist, with whom I collaborated.

Is there any sound in Rotterdam too?

Yes, there’s sound in Rotterdam. It is by Davide Viterbo

What do you expect, hope or fear, once the adventure with Watershed will be over?

Lately, I’ve been thinking of earth, of nature, a lot.

Will you go back to earth from water?

Yes, I will focus on the earth intended as our environment, our home. Recently, I feel very close to the earth and I’m thinking of how fiercely it is attacked by cement; so, now I want to work on this issue.

Many artists today are involved in this adventure; the younger generations are very interested in these issues, as shown by recent international exhibitions such as Documenta Kassel. I hope you can continue on this path linking the Mediterranean to Northern Seas.

Pietro Marino
art critic

Giusy Caroppo


I met Guillermina De Gennaro many years ago. I wrote about what for me was love at first sight between curator and artist: “… outside conventional circuits, you always find something good …”. I met her “among the white architecture of lovely Terlizzi, in an ancient building: distinguishing mark, a majestic mullioned window…”, as I thenwrote. Introduced by Cinzia Cagnetta, the owner of the Omphalos gallery, I discovered a delightful exhibition, rich in visual and sound suggestions, curated by Pietro Marino: “Adiòs”.

A complex butlight exhibition, already full of themes – farewell, departure, dwelling – thatwould become a kind of thematic obsession for Guillermina De Gennaro.

A special longing that permeates all her work, without becoming tragic sentimentality. A nostos that Guillermina conveys through her pale colors and sketched outlines, andthat emphasizes a sense of suspension: hermost distinguishing feature.

Digital paintings offered to the public through the technique of repetition, or rather of “fake” repetition, thanks to different small details – between similar representations – there where the almost imperceptibleshiny or dull patinaof the mixed-media paintingvibrates, a painting that she photographed and processedthrough digital media, recognizable in pale colors as well as in the objects of nostos: be they the regular flight of flocks of birds, the silhouettes of leaving ships, the whiteness of unattainablelandings, the bewitching and languid looks of oriental women or of teens caught in their becoming adults.

Memory is the leitmotiv. Memory, in which also time and space overlap. And it is accompanied by music, always. Everything is absurd and nothing is particularly defined in Guillermina’s old and new works. Then, is it a personification of memory? Uncertain by nature, crossbred as the enigmatic girls with almond-shaped eyes, who recur in herbest-known series of works or in the slow floating of the multi-colored faces of “Volver sin Volver”, so different, but with the sameintense looks.

“Volver sin Volver” is the work through which I shared Guillermina’s research. At first, in the dock at the Forte a mare in Brindisi for Intramoenia Extra Art.

To be able – together – to choose a magical place and define a situation and technical solutions for this visionary floating installation, where the incessant flow of water counteracts the “impossible” static nature of the massive floating portraitswith no landing, the whole accompanied by Giovanni Sollima’s cello. A work that originates from a state of mind, as the artiststates. “The element of water, in its holistic version, the sea, becomes a place of transit, where millions of hopes have drowned in recent years”. Andafter being a disruptive presence in Apulia, Guillermina De Gennaro’s floating installation came to the Wilhelmina pier basin in the Port of Rotterdam; a special project,withwhich INTRAMOENIA EXTRA ART migratedunder the WATERSHED brand towards Dutch waters.Itis an immersion in the sea of the past, a symbolic and dreamlike return to childhood’sland, experienced through images, but also the representation of that ancient and yet contemporarynomadism, shared by generations and ethnic groups, an attempt to visualize the feeling of traveling, courage and no return. A work that perfectly embodies that mix of cultures with which the European project “Watershed” – winner of the European Commission’s2012 “Culture Programme” – sailed towards the North, in the name of interactionamong different realities with a specific focus on landscape attractiveness and local identity. A project focusing on the delicate theme of water, in which Guillermina De Gennaro’s work becomes one of the best examples of versatile, polyglotwork, a perfect synthesis and an example of that timelessidea, which easily moves across different cultural, geographical and social dimensions, typical of the temporary museum promoted by “Intramoenia Extra Art”. That is why Guillermina De Gennaro and I, curator and artist, are so close. We areboth on the same wavelength.

Giusy Caroppo
independent curator

Pietro Marino, A Certain Look

A Certain Look

Tears – abundant and moving -have been shed in literature and films on the theme of exile, migration, and the loss of roots. Just as long, the string of nostòs has vibrated ever since Ulysses’ return.

Butit was neither exile nor returnthat was experienced by the seven-yearold girl who left the land where she was born fortheunknown land of her parents’ birth.

For her, it was a journey, that like life itself, you do not know where itwill lead you and when it will end. Shecould not takeher eyes away fromthe bus window until the house of her games on the outskirts of Buenos Aireshad disappeared, and her endless gaze was lost in the sea’s horizon, on the big ship taking her to Italy.

Adiòs, Argentina.

That sweet and thoughtfullook, the look of those who want to understand and understand themselves, now appearson the face of a young woman of distant origins, maybe from the Far East. An autobiographical confession that is embodied in all women, in all the creatures in the world of dispersion and diaspora. A different, obsessiverepetition, which is refracted and multiplied with slight body movements, with details of changing identity: what is allowed by our ageof standardization. Those eyes challenge us fromscattered panels, cutouts of a mosaic that repeats itstesserae without knowing how to put them together. Images fixed through a photographic sinopia, the chance encounter with a newspaper picture, precarious evidence of an anchoring to everyday life. But, then, held and plunged in thepale bath of a preciseas well as melancholic painting, suspended without substance on the anxious threshold of memory.

Memory as the thread of an erratic journey across the sense of the self, aboard a ghost ship, which also appears on a wall withfaded colors, like the Rex in Fellini’s Amarcord.

It is the journey started by Guillermina de Gennaro, now that her life has developed in the outskirts of another South.

But not by following the Proustian flow of time, a path that the crisis of modernity has stopped (as suggested by Heidegger): by grasping the fragments possible today, by collecting itsfragments, its voices, there where the lost childhood can live again, at least as fiction, in the present. So the artist pulls out of Plato’s cave the shadows of a group of musicians she used to listen toduring her childhood in Argentina.

Her father Francesco, her uncle Domenico, her friend Mario, who in their spare time played guitar, bandoneon and maracas for weddings and serenades, playing and singing tangos and boleros, waltz and zamba.

The journey and time have dissolved the Los Petalos trio.

The friend went to the United States. After coming to Bari, father and uncle haveput aside their instruments.

A video features them now as they play their music again, and the trio has become a quartet through the magic of generations.

There is uncle Domenico’sson, and there is even Guillermina herself, the little girl grown-up, trying to sing. This is almost a touching remake with a partial replacement of actors, butthe times are mixed up and the old innocence isdisturbed. Everything is given, but nothing is as before in this representation of a childhood dream that fades away. Like all dreams, it will soon vanish in black and white. Likewise, the music of South American folk dances, which creep into the spaces and paths of the exhibition, fade away, as if Los Petalos were still there with their serenades. On father Francesco’s music stand, the title of a songappears for a moment, “Que nadie sepa mi sufrir” – Nobody must know my sorrow.

Pietro Marino
art critic

Rosalba Branà, Dir. Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali, Neo-Nature of bio-diversity

Neo-Nature of bio-diversity

Guillermina De Gennaro’s work shows de-territorialised subjects as she works on her own identity and that of others in order to investigate the truths hidden deep inside everyone. For many years, her research has concentrated on portraits as a means of revealing the soul; the diaphanous faces she depicts (photographs or acrylics) create a more acute feeling of the ‘remoteness’ and ‘distance’ that are important keywords of her artistic identity.

She embarked upon her “Neo-nature” cycle several years ago, abandoning the faces she loves to their destiny and to the changes wrought by time; they fluctuate and float on water or amidst natural leaves and branches almost as if they were drifting away towards oblivion.

The relationship between Art and Nature appears constantly in the general history of art, and the 1989s saw the beginning of the Art in Nature movement, with Vittorio Fagone as one of its principal theoreticians. Central to Art in Nature are issues such as ecology, sustainability and the life processes that characterise every living thing. The movement’s attitude towards nature is different from that of Land Art; the artist feels and seeks a partnership with the natural environment, overcoming the concept of man’s dominion over nature. Artists like Nils-Udo, Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash and others experience their artistic creativity with and in nature, aiming to change the way society views the natural environment, and using art as the means of communicating with society.

For De Gennaro, the age we live in marks a new possibility for a partnership between man and nature: not a relationship of opposition between man and the environment, but one of opening towards a new vision of existence, where the environment conditions human life, and this in turn completes and enriches the environment with its creativity, productivity and responsibility.

Man is not depicted as being separate  from the natural world, but as an integral part of it. Therefore, we live in a material world; our bodies are made up of organic matter, and nature must be our companion.

Neo-Nature works are always site-specific, and they involve places like open spaces and city outskirts,  botanical gardens, ponds, marine reserves, river bends and ports, as well as outlying and derelict urban areas, because Guillermina’s intention is to fuse art with her social and ecological commitment.

Another dimension she explores is the concept of ‘temporality’: the changes that time brings to her works. The plants and bushes in which De Gennaro frames her images consist of organic matter and are subject to change and decay, meaning that her works change with the passage of time. De Gennaro’s creations are intended to escape from the artist’s control and take on a life of their own, recreating very intense emotional associations.

Guillermina gives great importance to the senses and to interaction with the onlooker watching, touching leaves, breathing in the scents of fresh earth and shoots, listening to the sound of water, and wave movement… The spiritual and tactile connotations of Neo-Nature are even stronger than their visual impact, since they reconcile spirit and matter, the universal and the specific, thought and sensitivity.

Rosalba Branà
Dir. Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali

Giuseppe Pinto, for “La Consolatrice molesta” show

“La Consolatrice molesta”

Guillermina De Gennaro uses her condition as a method to develop a reflection, which although open and universal, remains quite intimate and personally poetic. Alsoon this occasion, she continues her exploration of the forms and the boundaries of personal memory that often bring her toher beloved Argentina where, not surprisingly, hovers the spirit of the “infinite memory” of Ignazio Fures.

In “Paso Doble”, the driving force is an investigation around an entity difficult to decipher as the shadow cast by the human body and the inevitable implications it has with the idea of duality. A “subject” full of symbolic, artistic and philosophical concatenations that are lost in time. Working with the memory, the imagination consecrates the shadow as poetry of the mind. The silhouettes are arranged lightly on white, the space of becoming and reconnaissance. The memory trace is lost as in the tracksof the brush strokes, almost as ephemeral and precarious as the essence of the shadow itself. The watercolors comply in decentralized, non-conventional spaces for exhibiting the art “object”, they prefer corners or secluded places, and they almost shy away from frontal encounter. Pushed out beyond its limits, at the far edge of a question to which there is no answer, the work thus finds it is doomed to infinite questioning. The work stems from a systematic mixing of the elements ingrained in the memory. This operation simultaneously combines an intimate proximity and an irreducible distance. No beginning and no end. It uses elements known, but unfounded unknown in their entirety. A ritual practice that requires patience and plenty of time to poetically realize that “One and One is One”. The general sense and atmosphere is also that of a distinct dislike fora system thatpresupposes speed as the only means of existence and consumerism as the only sign of life, which on the contrary need to regain theirown reflective time in which to renew therelationship with each other. This is a possibility that is not only existential,but philosophical and cultural, possible escape and generative capacity.

Giuseppe Pinto
independent curator

Anna D’elia, Segrete Dimore

Segrete Dimore

Ants dig very long underground tunnels and, among them, those ants stand out which are responsible for building complex structures, inside which the community will be able to spend the winter, with storesfull of food. Swallows build nests by weaving straw, grasses and shrubs in such a skillful way as to find them intact upon returning from their seasonal migration. Aburrow, a shell or skin, dug in the ground or built on a tree, ahome is not only a shelter, but is a symbol that binds living species in the name of a common vulnerability. What does home mean for each species and in how many ways does each one build it? To study birds, bees, giraffes and theirdeep and secret relationship with their home has been, for years, the obscure desire driving Guillermina De Gennaro’s artistic research. The main reason was, perhaps, the nostalgia of the first welcoming home, of which humans have just a dimmemory of amniotic waters.

Her journey took her back in time, to the little girl who woulddraw a triangle above a square on a sheet of paperand, looking up at the sky, would see flocks of swallows and follow their sound trajectories.

“Even we humansare living in a geography that first of all marks a territory, and then, traces the perimeter where we build our home and decide to protect ourselves, to create and develop our life. Therefore, our birthplace is more than a home, it is a dreaming place, where each floor, attic, bedroom, cellar and corridor becomes the refuge of our loneliness, of our thoughts”, the artist then wrote in her notebooks.

In the Eighties, Guillermina first showed me her paper hives, from which swarms of bees flowed out. She was fascinated by their ancient knowledge, their hard work, their social organization thatwas evident in their production ofhoney. Her attention mostly focused on the skillful constructionof the hives and on the desire to penetrate their secret, thus retracing a research carried out many years before, also by Paul Klee.

Sometimes, art looks at the mysteries of nature to find answers to the greater mystery of creation. And this was the path followed by Guillermina, whose study of visionary philosopher Gaston Bachelard opened new horizons on what bound the inhabitants of the planet to their home asboth physical and mental places, asgeographical and inner spaces.

Using paper and glue, the artist began to create combs, symbolic objects, imaginary projections of an idea of ​​home, born from asynthesis of burrows, shells, nests, hives and human dwellings. In the encounter and comparison with the archetype of the dwelling, the artist has created fantastic places where to cherish the dream of a dialogue among different species, the utopia of a poetic coexistence of living beings. After birds and bees, the artist began to observe giraffes.

“Why are you fascinated by giraffes?” I asked her.

“They are creaturesthat are beautifullyset down on earth, almost unsuitable here, and in search of a new gravity force,” Guillermina answered me.

I too was fascinated by those strange animals, maybe because of their shambling walk, because they are alwaysabsent-minded and with their head in the clouds.

Where and how do giraffes build their home? I had wonderedabout that so many times, until Guillermina resolved the puzzle: “It’s their speckled and piebald skin that serves as a nest, a kennel, a burrow, a secret dwelling”.

Anddid you manage to build your own home?

“Currently – she answered – I’m still looking for my lost home, perhaps the one I left in the other hemisphere when I was a little girl, which Ilooked at until it became a white dot, lost in the blurred horizon,and which still keeps all my secrets”.

Anna D’Elia

Anna D’Elia, Exhibition “TEST 3”, Ecos Gallery, Rome

Exhibition “TEST 3”, Ecos Gallery, Rome, by Anna D'Elia

The body that Guillermina De Gennaro paints and sells per square meter is a pretext to reconsider diversity and denied differences. Silent is the Chinese woman with manifold expressions that, paradoxically, in the modular multiplication that turnsher into a number, gives a face to diversity.


Maria Vinella, critical text for the solo exhibition “Fuerza en tus ojos”

"Fuerza en tus ojos”

Languid gazes. Stares. Blurred faces. Women who observe. Women observed. The eyes – “the mirror of the soul”- depicted by Guillermina De Gennaro enshrine a world. Or rather many worlds. As many as thoughts. Distantworlds, far from everyday reality, made of memory and dreams, desires and disappointments. Mysterious worlds hidden behind a look, worlds that the artist tries to reveal by dissolving with the brush the patina of fiction and exteriority, of the unsaid and of the conventions that surround life.

In the bold and proud, fearful and uncertain, nostalgic and mysterious looks of the characters portrayed by the artist, we findthe pale traces of memories, the sadness of abandonment, the melancholy of distance, the escapes of refusal.

And still, soft sensations and softemotions, fleeting shadows and flickering lights that surround close-ups and details of faces. Through paintings and digital paintings on canvas, paper or plastic (large-sized or small-sized sequences arranged in evocative spatial installations), Guillermina De Gennaro conveys the soft voice of visualconfessions,autobiographical and not, that are evanescent incorporeal appearances, fluid and mobile forms, real only for a few moments and always ready to fade. Through the anonymous or familiarlooks of friends and unknown women, the artist discovers the precious chance to escape the drabness of reality to enter a new dimension made up of thespaces of reflection and of the places of feeling. The eyes thus become a magic door to silently accessthe intimate world of the other, his past and his dream of the future. In fact, in the story generated by the mute dialogue of glances, a thousand stories are hidden, made up of untapped energies and imploded vitality, denied creativity and untold potential. This journey into the world of the beyond and elsewhere does not look like an escape, but like a search, a hard and slow search, which strengthens the traveler at each obstacle and enrichesher at each stage.

Especially in the emotional landscapes of the non-places of memory, the artist born in Argentina and Italian by adoption recoversher own little pieces of life, fragments of memory through which she manages to open a subjective aesthetic sensitivity to the collective perception, there where the personal experience establishes a dialogue with the viewer’s experience, up to givinga new sense and a new symbolic meaning to the general views of art.

Maria Vinella
Critical text for the solo exhibition “Fuerza en tus ojos” – Spazio Artefuoricentro, Rome, 2006; Galleria “Museo Nuova Era” – Bari, 2007.

Lucia Anelli, Text in the catalog of the group exhibition “Scambi, dal presente al passato”

Text in the catalog of the group show "Scambi, dal presente al passato”, Canne della Battaglia archaeological site, Barletta, by Lucia Anelli

For years, Guillermina De Gennaro has been dealing with the issue of detachment-permanence, through herpersonal interpretation of the “dwelling”, animal as well as human, as a protective covering, a sentimental and poetic cradle of memories enshrined or just buried. The journey, the plunging intoan indefinite place, the research and the endless and passionatechallenge, balance this need for quiet.

The installation is an atypical dwelling for moles, a layered path, conceivedas a trace of tireless animals that coexist with a perpetual darkness, ingenious tenants of an unchanging nature. Sections of life that run through the millennial earth, laid bare by a faint light that strikes the walls of a casual shelter, the paperburrowssuccessfully defy bad weather, climbing among the ravines, barely touching the old rocks which act as temporary footholds. Beyond perishability, beyond the fragile texture, the artist’s dwellingsare integrated with the gently exploredenvironment, like walkways of ideal animals, workings of intangible presences. Almost an inwarddigging in the depth of the unconscious, done with a playful andsometimes sorrowful attitude.