Vernissages are the best invention ever invented. The sentence is redundant, but I can hardly contain my excitement about last Tuesday’s event. On September 8th, the Royal Opera Arcade Gallery opened its exhibition ‘The Ways of Art – VII Edition’. And the vernissage took the shape of a pleasant evening in (very) central London, as the gallery is a few metres away from Trafalgar Square. The atmosphere couldn’t have been more relaxed and welcoming. I was greeted by the person who, I soon found out, was the gallerist herself, Elizabeth Mitchell-D’Anna. I then had a few words with the curator, Rosi Ranieri, who explained me how the exhibition was organised and how the selection of the artists worked. And then came the magic: I started approaching artists and other people, chatting to them, finding out about their wonderful stories.
I had a word with Ines Zingarelli, a web designer and developer, whose art is introspective and full of inner torment.
I spoke with Vittorio Lo Cicero, an ex-policeman reinvented as an artist after retiring, who gave me the secrets of his art and some philosophical pearls too.
I chatted for a long time with Simonetta Ardizzone, who told me her story and whose undying energy shines through her works.
The main reason I had come was actually to see the paintings of my friend Simone Conti, who was my school mate at secondary school and whom I haven’t met since then – but I do hope to catch him sooner or later!
The vernissage gave me a chance to reflect on how vital it is, in contemporary art, to have someone with whom to share your thoughts about what you see. But more importantly, I had a sort of revelation about art tags: I think it should be compulsory for artists to display with their works a plaque with one sentence (really, one sentence) in which they present their art to the viewer, and summarise what their work is about. This would give them a way to explain what they do to the ‘common people’, to those who are brave enough to enter a gallery of contemporary art but are often not given a share in the artists’ stories behind their paintings. Admittedly, this goes against the idea that art should communicate immediately and spontaneously. After all, do Michelangelo’s David or Van Gogh’s Starry Night need a tag to communicate to the viewer? They speak for themselves, right? And yet I do believe that, if artists shared their thoughts more, then people would feel less disconnected with the art world, and would perhaps engage more with art. If the meaning was made more accessible, then people would stop saying they don’t ‘get’ contemporary art and start appreciating it. I am firmly convinced that everyone can enjoy art, or at least take it on board and decide whether she/he likes it or not.
Which is why, in all this, I think people should organise and go to vernissages more often. And, when provided, read art tags too.