Visual Infinity

Then another kind of vertigo seizes me, that of the detail of the detail of the detail, and I am drawn into the infinitesimal, the infinitely small, just as I was previously lost in the infinitely vast.
Italo Calvino (American Lessons)

It is not a coincidence that, at the beginning of their creative adventure, many artists based their work on seeking a balanced and universal art, thinking of it as a means of achieving harmony that adapts to reality. Therefore, beyond the formal structures typical for pictorial works, it is not uncommon to discover their poetic vein, their true absolute essence, in which sensitivity is conveyed through an intelligent and organized distribution of different elements of the painting that, put together, make up its visual image.
According to Alberto Giacometti “The goal of art is not to copy reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity” and it is certainly undeniable that, at the heart of the artistic work of Costanza Alvarez de Castro, it has always been a careful reading and interpretation of what surrounds us through the adaptation of the details in which the representation of reality focuses the analysis and study on specific factors of the concept. Hence, in the latest cycle of works gathered under the title “Visual Infinity”, the artist is strongly attracted by the decomposition and recomposition of forms in space that allow her to enclose a sensation of finite and infinite within the determined perimeter of the canvas. The artist then enacts the contradiction of the imaginary favoring the colors and layers of the material, which resolves the surface through tones and suggestions of the shades.
Whereas the poetry that comes from colors and their combination evokes inner evolutions that show a certain inclination to the expressiveness of the concept. This one is emphasized even more by the search for simple colors, with light overlapping that sometimes does not neglect the inclusion of a strong material component inherent in the reproduced object. Carlo Carrà said that “the painting must grasp a relationship that includes the need for identification and the need for abstraction” and the material elements that we find on these canvases, such as the various types of propellers, bollards, compasses, inkwells, etc. originate from her shunning from a traditional vision, from the search for a specific conception, sometimes delimiting the recognition of their origin, from the essential as well as unavoidable emotional intensity.
Within the always-well-finished canvas – rules the horror vacui, depriving the composition of empty spaces. Genuine is the enjoyment that the artist seems to feel in hyper-describing and maniacally defining each element dissolving the hierarchical order in force among things, where details become protagonists – “painting is more about capturing than representing” (Philip Guston).
The sensation of taking directly from reality and the immediacy of the carefully constructed image derives from the recurring photographic style. The choice of subjects, handed down from personal memory, additionally tells us about her refined taste for what’s “less-observed”, for the artifice capable of surprising, for the unusual points of view also present in many previous works. The perspective tends to surprise in a way to accurately reveal all the elements of the subject to show it from multiple points of view. Modulating it to her liking, on the contrary, she is free to decide what aspect of reality she wants to display. A reality in which, like the poet Gibran Jalil Gibran says, “art is a step from nature to infinity”.


                                                                                   Massimo Scaringella

(Translation by Jelena Cerović)


Day of Celebration

With a learning experience dedicated to refined decorative techniques in the recent past, followed by an internship as a decorator of theatrical sets, Costanza Alvarez de Castro approaches easel painting from a diametrically opposite perspective: the quasi-absence of background. Whether a portrait, a fruit, or an animal representation, the background is simply neutral: not aseptically neutral, nor symbolically neutral, and not even historically neutral, like the ‘gloomy’ backgrounds characteristic for Caravaggio whose realistic interpretations Costanza approaches with a modern spirit. The background of Costanza’s paintings wraps, seizes, encases, supports, and keeps the represented subjects alive, raising them to the level of contemporary icons, deconstructing them from any environmental situation to enhance their vital, pulsating aspects.
Those who know the history of art may be tempted to associate the style of some of her paintings with a specific chronological or stylistic environment: the sixteenth-century Flemish or Lombard still life, neoclassical or early-twentieth-century portraiture, contemporary metaphysics. However, her subjects emerge outside these environments, while remaining in some way tied to them.
She keeps the oil painting technique from her bond with the antique expertly adapting it through a continuous search for effects. The choice to paint with oil is not a foregone conclusion. The material of this technique is complex in its processing, made of overlapping layers, glazes, slow drying times, and different application methods that allow shades, the play of opacity and sharpness to which the contemporary eye is almost no longer used; complexity to which the artist wisely gifts new possibilities, using an antique technique in a contemporary key, while respecting, with ability and humility, its slow and complex processes.
Her subjects are simultaneously abstract and realistic, immortalized in a timeless environment without real space, yet very tangible in their physicality and the specifics of every detail: the brightness of a pomegranate, the expression of a face, the softness of a hare’s fur. Details that are not easy to do with oil, especially if you want to understand this technique while moving away from examples of the past. Her portraits seize a fresh, immediate, and timeless aspect of their subjects, even when people wear contemporary clothes. Fruits and animals are represented in an almost hyper-realistic way, but without the photographic effect that distinguishes those kinds of works.
The recent series of paintings entitled Rainforests takes a completely different direction: on these canvases prevails the background that acts as scenography and a subject at the same time. It is not easy to combine these two terms in a work that represents at the same time a moment that is dear to the artist, therefore the subject, and a naturalistic landscape, therefore in some way a natural setting. These paintings are imagined as works in which the physical subjects of the previous paintings are hazy in the middle of nature or even absent, and the way the landscape is represented illustrates not only a naturalist subject but also a particular “piece” of the soul of the artist, denoting a voluntary choice to blend and at the same time turn the background into the new subject.
The high quality of Costanza’s paintings lies in knowing how to combine the thorough subtlety of the details with the solidity of her figures, executed with a pasty and, at the same time, transparent and clear material, an indication of a refined technique that is always searching for new solutions.


Christina Underhill Danielli

(Translation by Jelena Cerović)

Nature on Stage

The exhibition, curated by Giovanni Argan, displays to the visitors the latest works of the young Roman artist, whose style focuses on the dialog between realism and classicism. Costanza Alvarez takes on the role of a director and prepares a “stage” in her paintings where people, fruits, and animals play a silent script. An intense light, much like spotlights, strikes her subjects, awarding them with body and presence. Beyond those, there is only backstage darkness. It is in the attention to detail and the precise brush stroke that one can perceive the influence of the Flemish and Italian paintings of the late 1500s and the peak of the 1600s, while Caravaggio’s influence echoes in the powerful contrasts between light and dark. With the goal of conducting an undisturbed investigation of reality, Costanza Alvarez inserts the subjects of her works into bare spaces, which allow her to study natural forms in all their singularity. The artist inspects Nature in its depth to give it back in a renewed dimension where the subjects reveal themselves in the poetic mystery of their essence.
The curtain rises: Nature takes the stage. The artist takes on the role of a director and prepares a “stage” in her paintings where people, fruits, and animals play a silent script. An intense light, much like spotlights, strikes her subjects, awarding them with body and presence. Beyond those, there is only backstage darkness. Powerful contrasts between light and dark model the shapes, outline the contours. You can hear the echo of Caravaggio’s naturalism and luminism: subjects rich in realism emerge from the dark background of the canvas.

(Translation by Jelena Cervić)

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Video by Nicola Pietromarchi


Costanza Alvarez de Castro with her exibition “Portraits” presents for the very first time to the public her work as a painter. Starting from reality and analyzing it in all its details, the artist searches for the evocative nature of painting in still life, people and animals. Even though she makes use of traditonal iconographies, her work conveys a rich depthness through the use of a modern language, given by the density of the colours and the enveloping neutral backgrounds that recall those used in photographic studios.

Through 13 works, of both big and medium size, as well as a series of works of smaller dimensions, the artist captures the essence of the subject matter, whether it is a person, an animal or simply a fruit, at a pictorial level through great precision but most of all at an emotional level revealed with ease and simplicity. In this context, the painting technique becomes the medium for conveying emotions in the same way as a dancer uses her body. A portrait, for Costanza Alvarez de Castro, is never a mechanical reproduction of the subject matter but an expression of her artistic sensibility, that brings together painting with her passion for theatre and dance.