"Legacies" di Bettina Bush

Skilled at mixing different materials, Ligurian artist Marina Profumo never grows tired of investigating great themes through her ironic and sharp glance. She covers different fields such as economics, politics, religion and the environment, and sways between an intimate and personal dimension with the aim of getting to universal concepts, paying particular attention to the world of the weakest and marginalized, though never resulting ponderous. Her approach, which evolves and naturally leads to the three-dimensional, is already perceivable in her early more introspective paintings. Then come the everyday objects that become symbols and tools full of messages. Her attention shifts to the harsh reality of the globalized world, which according to the artist resembles a large, restricting, constraining and restraining cage rather than progress. Her work is an incessant denunciation crossing a universe of works suited to experiment with a range of materials and languages never reaching a final destination and steadily evolving. Her approach was reserved at the beginning: only at the end of the 1990s did Profumo decide that the time had come to deal with the public opinion and participated in the first exhibitions. She immediately exhibited abroad in towns as diverse as Moscow, Stockholm, Chicago, Copenhagen Prague, Uppsala and Berlin, just to mention a few. In the meantime, her extremely personal style, far from local developments and currents, suddenly emerges. Her works go beyond the merely introspective dimension perceivable in "Destination" ("Meta") and "Confusion" ("Confusione"): colour frees itself and acquires a new rhythm. It is the period when she uses acrylic pastes and sand. Surface is no longer sufficient: she employs concrete, rope, paper and metal. Shapes and thickness are clear-cut and reveal a number of levels of research, between the visible and the non-visible, like in the original sculptures "Homo Love", and shoes make room for the brain and enable people to subtly meditate on homosexuality, or the boot of "Lethal Parasites" ("Parassiti Letali"), again in concrete and paint, a clear hint at our country destroyed by the bad use of politics. In the series "Prison Brain" ("Cervelli Imprigionati"), Profumo deals with a number of aspects of mankind's everyday insanity of today by creating three-dimensional works, which this time make use of foam rubber as their main material. It is a way to let the image breathe and block it inside a metallic net that constrains and restrains, extends, distorts but does not transform, almost becoming like an adjusting compass. It is the mapping of her inner geography, hope that remains desire in different environments, such as the lack of space in a town like Genoa that can be seen in "Gramsci Street", a heap of motorcycles that becomes a veritable whirl and attracts the viewer into a labyrinth with no escape. There is still longing for space in "Between Sea and Sky" ("Tra mare e cielo"), foreshortened views of Ligurian coloured houses between the sea and the sky where for a change compression has a poetic touch. "The Heavy Heritage" ("La pesante eredità") hints at the glorious past of Genoa, a mere regret. It is in "Last Breath" ("Ultimo Respiro"), a mass of noses where the need for survival of mankind, which is trapped into its own progress – a lost war – emerges. Her denunciation goes on and touches on the economy in "Euro Prison", while "We Are the World" ("Come Siamo") is an ironic glance to the world's citizens, all different yet similar in their mediocrity. In "Bad Use" ("Cattivo Uso – Religione") Profumo raises her voice dealing with an issue that is twisting our present, the bad use of religion, sculpting a dramatically silent eyeless head, which is an accurate topical portrait of the new type of violence we are living. If this is our present, the future is a mere delusion, as can be seen in "Can Man Take the Place of Nature?" ("L’uomo può sostituire la natura?"), the same title, or better the same question, for different works: ruined and fake trees made of concrete and looking natural, in fact a self-deception because the desire to build nature will be the next frontier, or better defeat, of modern man. No hope that man will behave responsibly then. According to Profumo, ethics is a utopia, an issue concerning other times or perhaps other worlds yet to be discovered.

Bettina Bush