Every definition of identity centres on ideas of temporal continuity (memory, permanence, repetition, constancy) and/or spatial continuity (country, religion, community, etc.). But when one has moved from place to place, from language to language, from culture to culture, for generations on end, the natural flow between social and personal identity is definitely fractured. The physical and cultural environments no longer appear as a natural, extension of the self. This rupture brings to light the artificiality and cultural intentionality involved in the construction of “Landscape”.

“Landscape“ is neither a place nor its portrait but the relationship between a man and a place, a simultaneous mirroring and distancing which allows one’s self to extend beyond the confines of direct experience. In a similar way, memory is constantly modified and enriched by others who help retrieve or construct an image that had seemed irretrievably lost.

These paintings are an attempt to portray this fractured landscape.

Exploring my memories of place, I found that few of the images that came to mind where those of “first-hand” experience of landscapes, but rather images from artifacts and books, movies and paintings which are common to many of us. Their appearance had the vagueness and completeness of the generic: visual structures, paradigms around which my feelings and sense of self have formed, like salt crystallizing on a wire.

The thought of landscapes of pleasure, carried with it the saturated blues and turquoises of seaside postcards; that of a primordial landscape brought the images of the Western films with their topography like ancient ruins; the idealized benevolence and fertility of the land brought images of ceramics, wallpaper and decorative textiles; the desire for vast perspectives, gave me the classical landscape, deployed in an almost theatrical setting of peculiar golds and browns; the thought of intimate, private landscapes gave me the impressionist garden and its renunciation of both horizon and sky; finally, the sense of the changing seasons appeared as the televised maps that accompany the weatherman, within a pattern of childlike signs, of suns and clouds, lightning and numbers.

These images from collective memory are my country and flag.

Despite all my travels and displacements, despite all the inherited stories of places had and places lost, I have known no sky as blue, no sea as clear, no place as beautiful as that once seen in the Byzantine-like enamels of a holiday post card.

From Commonplaces, The Blue Gallery, London, 2003.