The hands and the night
Marco Goldin


Serena Nono painted in 1996 a very beautiful Pietà, medium-sized, but for her,unusually large, eighty centimeters by sixty. Christ’s torso dazzled with light like ripe wheat at the end of June, the red drapery of a thick mist that plunges down, tangling. On all this, as an even more sacred apparition, Mary’s unobtrusive arm, her outstretched hand. As in a fresco from Pompei, the image is everything, centre and solitude of the scene, sudden human awakening, desire for new knowledge. Before entering it, we understand that S.N. does not accept the confessional agony of religious backdrop, focusing instead on the immeasurable space of that body that occupies the universe with desire to attempt to reveal at least some measure. A few years ahead of the cycle of the Passion thet she has just concluded, Pietà marks a first point of arrival of a rough and tormented path, all of it dug in ravines, crags, cycles of light and sudden darkness.
That painting came in the midst of a group of early works, where the meaning of life was continually confused, and fused, with the watery silence of death. The kingdom of hereafter inhabited by the living,
where the bodies were faces, hands, half-figures, reclining heads sunk within a grainy fog, more often the colour of pitch but also suphurous in some of their fiery drippings. Faded walls, steeped in the salt of the sea, the green of algae, the sunset that floods within the corroded mortar. In Serena nono there is a taste for tatooing life, for constantly filling it with presences. And yet she immediately worked with absence, aphasic painting, emptied of the unessential, when reality cuts into the flesh like a painful thorn, and is not only reality but also thought, vision, concluded dream. There are images in her painting that emerge from an immense darkness, beyond any possible human comprehensio, and perhaps it is impossible to understand wether in that exact moment they really are emerging, or whether they are sinking in forever. And so the painting would be the ultimate meaning of a story, the outcome of a voyage, a preview before everything definitively is. Not that this is painting for the Apocalypse, but it is laden with truth in a way rarely seen in our confused and tormented time. The painting, too is tormented, macerated, eroded by atmospheric events that at once become facts of the soul, its painted colour, its spread colour, its clotted colour. The horizon is nothing other than the body, the rippling border line, the pressure of reality on otherwise empty space. Serena Nono needs to take the floor and tell a story. Needs, so that there be a point of crossing over and marking time, that the rusty glimmer of a body remain as the signal of a passage, presence within a greater presence.

Marco Goldin
From the catalogue Figure, Lineadombra libri, 2000

Serena Nono