“The text is an unimportant result of something else which is going on and our job is to find out what that something else is” Michel St.-Denis, director, presenting Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard at Stratford, 1961

“L’esprit de collage... est avant tout celui de la rencontre fortuite.” Max Ernst

“Collage: situation d’un homme et d’une femme qui vivent ensemble sans etre mariés.” Definition found in an old dictionary by Jacques Prevert

“He made appointments with himself, as with a friend, because he cared about friendship. He arrived neither early, nor late, but exactly on time.” André Pozner on Jacques Prévert

The creations of Rita Ettore are for looking at, that is, to open and awaken our eyes, which are the gates of the heart. She also invites us to experience and know through touch. This is not material aimed at speculation and discussion. Of course, the bewildering and fascinating beauty of creativity is always that it cannot be defined or duplicated.
Rita has, in these last years, given birth to and perhaps perfected a form of art which reverses our usual conventions about external appearance and inner significance. As is also understood by the phenomenological student of dreams, an individual’s clothing, their outermost manifestation, is what shows us the soul. In these works, the arrangements, shapes, textures and colors of garments, sometimes of shoes, the suggestions of furniture, provoke emotions and tell us stories. That is, they manifest meanings, motivations and relationships. Just as in Chinese geomancy, outward organization here determines subjective experience.

This is a new view being applied. But in Rita’s work, in particular, we should not confuse what is artistic with what is new. Innovation, invention and the like are concerned with novelty. (Invention is man-made, clever problem-solving at best.
Innovation is only the adaptation of what has been invented or created to the earthbound requirements of utility.) What is inventive, for example, seen for the first time, is only a part of what is artistic.
For instance, Rembrandt's use of chiaroscuro and Picasso’s habitual employment of two or more perspectives in his paintings and sculpture may be new ways of representing objects and situations but they are, by themselves, only good ideas – this is not what touches and moves us. We may be surprised or startled, or relieved, or even thrilled by novelty. What makes this work artistic, or genuinely creative, is instead the way innovation has been visibly shaped by the creator’s intentions and passionate intelligence - the heart and soul - so that the viewer is moved directly by the artist in miraculous fashion.

To say “directly by the artist” means she has managed to open her own person and allowed the viewer to know her unique mode of being in and experiencing the world (in specific, her way of seeing and feeling.) The viewer will sense that the creator's self is known to him, not just the image in the frame, but the artist's existence as such. This, not perfect imitation or photographic exactness, is what is meant by art’s ability to “capture life itself”.

In any case, the notion of verisimilitude would have no meaning in nonrepresentational arts, say non-narrative dance or music without words. They work their magic upon us without any reference to the expicit. We can respond to arts without any "subject" except the materials used: paint, notes, clay, sounds and instrumental timbre, oil, fabric and fiber.
As we have already noted, in Rita’s work the human quality of imagination does anyway function importantly: we fantasize, guess at, seek hints of, an emotional content which is quite specific and at the same time impossible to articulate precisely. (Her titles, which are provocations, stimulate this.) In short, this is “depth” understood as residing well back from the surface, or outside the boundary or far from the location of the viewer. Nothing is more real than “mystery” or “imagination”: even though they are not “obvious”, they are present, part of real life. By nature, we live in dimensions ineffable and impenetrable, hard to see and sense and define.

As Rita progresses, her works are going deeper. We begin to find depth of feeling, depth of perception and depth of comprehension. Depth of course suggests being greatly moved and touched, beyond the surface, beyond the shallow and the superficial. Depth implies profundity, a source of wisdom, often intense and hard to understand, or hard to easily understand (“a deep mystery”); in psychology, it is a time-honored way of referring, imprecisely but suggestively, to what humans are capable of, or composed of (depth psychology, “deep neurosis”, “the depths of one’s being”). Depth is different than, though related to, complexity - the way in which figures or features are composed of many and varied qualities, even ones in which elements appear to be contradictory. A tapestry - and here we are near Rita’s creations - is woven of many coIors, of threads of black and white; the figure and ground, the manifest and latent, in any true work of art - musical, for example, as well as visual - are factors which overlap, interleave and are overlaid.

Attention rigorously paid to such a web of variable textures, coIors and geometries present in the environment is at the base of this cult of the aesthetic; already the Greek origin of the word “aesthetic” refers to the entire experience of perception, without limitation to one sense in particular. Devotion to a formal perfection which seeks, or seeks to see, balance in the world around us gives rise to this sensory rnultidimensionality.
In these creations, Rita makes the effort to “touch” and know the world, and have us enter the experience - if possible, as easily as a person opens a closet door or walks into a room. Let us follow her.

Barrie Simmons,
2006 april 19th

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