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  • Aquatints
  • Fulvio Testa and with an Introduction by Karen Wilkin

Fulvio Testa is difficult to categorize. Best known to many for his delightful, notably unsentimental, illustrations for children’s books— case in point, the lively, full-page, full-color images for recent Italian and English editions of Carlo Collodi’s classic Pinocchio—the Italian-born Testa is equally celebrated in literary circles for the refined, inventive illustrations he has made for the kind of beautifully produced letter-press editions, often collaborations with poets, that book-lovers crave and collectors pounce on. He is a master of a remarkable range of graphic media, able to deploy delicate lines and rich tonalities for maximum expression, in works ranging from meticulous depictions to free improvisations. And then there are his evocative paintings: intimate explorations of the power of subtly orchestrated hues and sensitive marks to conjure up apparently specific places, seasons, times of day, and weather without compromising their essential abstractness.

Testa is difficult to categorize in other ways as well. For many years, the widely read, widely traveled, multilingual artist has divided his time mainly between Verona and New York, but he exhibits and takes part in projects internationally. An omnivorous observer, with a fund of information about visits to often unexpected places, in the past and recent past, he constantly surprises his friends with news of installations of his work in Mexico and in a Palladian villa in the Veneto, reports on exhibits seen in London and Amsterdam, or pictures of a falconer friend’s birds of prey in a desolate part of the British Isles.

The selection of Testa’s aquatint etchings included here can all be described as illustrations for poems by poets of different nationalities, writing in different languages. Yet strictly speaking, although these images were conceived in response to specific written works, they are not illustrations in the conventional sense. Rather than visualizations of things described, they are parallel experiences, embodiments of the mood and feeling tone of the poems they accompany in the language of tone and touch—metaphors of metaphors. Mysterious and suggestive, they are open to multiple interpretations, many of which, despite the origins of these images, defy words. Together, these fragments of a small part of Testa’s wide-ranging work hint at the breadth of this fascinating artist’s achievement.

—Karen Wilkin


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Ombre, Quartini, Mezzilitri 1 (2001), aquatint; illustration for a poem by Serge Gavronsky.


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Ombre, Quartini, Mezzilitri 2 (2001), aquatint; illustration for a poem by Luigi Cerantola.


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Untitled (2001), aquatint; illustration for “Vita di Ciriaco d’Ancona” by Girolamo Tiraboschi.


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Untitled (2003), aquatint; illustration for “Sad is Eros” by David Yezzi.


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Ombre, Quartini, Mezzilitri 2 (2001), aquatint; illustration for a poem by Luigi Cerantola.


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Il Grillo Lucente (2005), aquatint; illustration for “Poesie per il Monte Baldo” by Cesare Lievi.

Karen Wilkin

KAREN WILKIN is a New York-based independent curator and critic.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1939-9774
Print ISSN
1939-6589
Pages
p. xxx
Launched on MUSE
2016-02-18
Open Access
No
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