Francesco Poiana ‘Hunter, Gatherer’

A new series of works by Francesco Poiana is set to reflect our surreal and quietly wild times.

The Italian artist sought to recreate from memory the landscape of his home in the Dolomites from his studio in Bethnal Green, before returning to this landscape to capture it en plein air through spring and early summer.

Poiana was born in the foothills of the Alps thirty years ago, the son of a winegrower and architect. Having attended art school in Rome he started conducting a Grand Tour in reverse, coming to London to St Martin’s School of Art to study Fine Art and thereafter the Royal Drawing School.

The artist is as comfortable in the past as in the present; his works are both classical – growing up as he did in landscapes of the sort painted by Lorrain and Poussin – but also contemporary.

‘I’ve always used art as a way to understand and at the same time hide from the world’ says Poiana.

‘This series of works are a reflection on the temporality of days, on dirt roads as invitations to an intimate voyage towards the intangible image of a golden elsewhere;  the country, the sea and the vineyards, where nothing happens and everything speaks about an era made of light.’

He adds: ‘‘In an increasingly, confusing and complicated world, there is a level of mystery I can’t explain in words. That mystery is what intrigues me and triggers my commitment to being in the studio day after day. In this new series of artworks I’ve noticed that there are symbols emerging from experiences filtered by the memory and a new intensity of colour and saturation as well as a sense of a material land that seems to have been forged by light and colour.’

There are in a sense as the title suggests two ways of approaching Poiana’s work. It has these references to the past, suggested in both subject and in elements of painterly application. There are the crepuscular tones of Symbolist painters like Edvard Munch and the fluid lines of Honoré Daumier. Poiana has an innate flair for making art with the smallest gestures.  His method is neither assertive nor submerged and like Luc Tuymans or Peter Doig his pictures have a stillness and opacity to them that hints at a narrative but keeps it hidden. And yet, at the same time his work is innately of today’s concerns.

There is something sustaining and ancient in this process that feels today to offer renewed vitality to a rethinking on how we interact with the world around us. It is as old as the vesuvian looking mountains that are the focal subject of some of these works, and yet in his hands the marks and the meaning have a new agency, something immediate and contemporary.

The act of hunting and gathering here is one of seeking out knowledge and building understanding, and ultimately in line with its wider purpose, sharing with others.

Lockdown and a new studio pushed Poiana to take his work in directions he had not explored much before; from working primarily with printmaking and painting on paper to layering paint onto canvas and gessoed board.

‘Using drawings I made in the landscape and using memories I form what is almost a collage in my mind which I piece together in the studio,’ he says. ‘the last few years  have been good in some ways as I have had time to reflect on my practice.

I am painting these new works to a level of detail and finish that I haven’t done before even though I always like to keep some parts of each of my pictures less defined than other bits to give people a chance to imagine something of their own; their own reality.’

He adds; ‘I don’t want to show off technique. I just want to suggest one reality and allow other people to have their story.’

It is the paint itself that is alive; every work has a sense to it imparting energy, psychology and potency – regardless of its subject.”



Francesco Poiana

[ 1990
- Present ]
Born in Faedis in the North East of Italy in 1990, Francesco Poiana attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and then the celebrated Albicocco fine art printing workshop in Udine before studying for a Masters degree at Central St Martins College of Art in London. He joined the Royal Drawing School in 2019.

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