MARGHERITA BRANCIFORTE IN MEXICO CITY
By Margaret Failoni (2007)
Having known Margherita Branciforte to be a portrait artist –and a very good one at that- I was pleasantly surprised a few years ago when she showed me a group of landscape paintings of Venice commissioned by one of that city’s Deluxe hotels. The paintings were of Venetian landmarks captured from a distance at dawn and sunset, through a mist or fog, painted in pale sepia grays and black, almost Turneresque in their mystery and romantic fragility.
Therefore, it was no longer a surprise to me that the artist chose to present a new series of landscapes along with some portraits for her most recent Mexico City show at Florencia Riestra’s Colonia Roma gallery.
This new series of landscapes does not capture the romance of the Venetian series nor are they as figurative. Instead, they are unabashedly colourful. Branciforte is not afraid to use color in its purest form and does so beautifully. These paintings are much more abstract, and yet, we seem to capture the horizon seen through veils of mist. The canvases are not large, almost window size; the impression is that of gazing out a window onto a misty plane of color and in spite of the vibrancy of the color, the images are somehow serene.
The portraits in this exhibition are a whole different story and here lies the dichotomy in this artist’s work. Branciforte has a very singular and particular style of doing portraits, in which, with just a few sketchy brush strokes, she cannily captures the very essence of her subject while leaving most of the natural canvas bare. After studying her subjects carefully, using a brush and very little color or pigment, she sketches the subject –sometimes alone and sometimes in various different poses on the same canvas. Then with a good eye, good instinct and unwavering hand, she zeros in the one spot of the sitter that denotes their aura. And she never fails! Seldom have I come across an artist with such ability to capture the very essence of her subjects.
Branciforte has been painting portraits of the world’s “beautiful people” for over 30 years, from Paris and Rome to Saudi Arabia, to Johannesburg, from the Palm Beach elite to the California golden girls and the American entrepreneurs. There are even a few stunning portraits right here in San Miguel.
For the Mexico City show, she chose a self portrait along with four portraits of Mexico City society personalities including the renowned Colombian novelist Laura Restrepo.
Needless to say, the opening was sensational; the right crowd. Landscapes were sold along with portraits and new commissions were noted.
Born in Venice, Italy, Branciforte grew up in Rome where she graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arti and continued her art studies in Paris and London thereafter. She entered and won several important international art competitions. Portraits of people and their pets (the animal paintings are sensational) and her paintings, sculpture and jewelry design are part of important collections throughout the world, truly making her a renaissance artist.