Born from a Venetian mother and a Dutch father, Fosca enters adulthood with the enthusiasm of a twenty-something looking for answers to existential questions through the creation of a fantastic universe filled with curious anthropomorphic animals. These creatures seem to find their roots in the apocalyptic menace of certain Flemish paintings, tempered by the lightheartedness and refinement of an XVIII century Venetian carnival.
Her drawings, executed with the meticulous and patient precision of miniaturist, or even a goldsmith are the alphabet to a secret language. If a universe created by an artist makes her prisoner of it signs, Fosca will surely find it difficult to forsake her zoological creations.
Maybe one day someone will dare to explore the hidden depths of her imaginary universe populated by fantastic animals. For the moment, we prefer to simply admire her drawings, lost as Alice in her Wonderland, while Fosca alone holds the keys to penetrate her inner dreams.
It is not easy to write the text for the artist Fosca’s exhibition catalogue. It took some time and effort to extract, from the phantasmagorical exhibit that will be on show in May in the courtly Salone dei Mappamondi of the Marciana Library, the spirit that inspired the artist in the creation of this elegant and precious work.
The installation which provides the core, the background and the frame of the artist’s works is a celebration of the perfection and elegance inspired by Vincenzo Coronelli’s globes, one of them terrestrial and the other celestial, which are to be found under the frescoed vault and the reliefs that decorate it.
This transparent sphere dominates the scene. And – like a Christmas tree on which children hang their wishes – it is covered in fifteen thousand delicate butterflies representing the letters of the alphabet, cut by hand out of translucent parchment. A shrewd reference to the century-old function of the Salone of the Library, housing famous works of writers and artists and precious manuscripts of classical antiquity.
The airborne refinement of the main installation is also to be found in the graphic works Fosca displays around the Salone, engraved in a sophisticated black and white in harmony with the bicoloured antique Venetian floor.
It is in these pieces that the dreamlike imagination of the artist merges with the technical perfection of the central sphere.
It is rather difficult to talk exhaustively of the guiding inspiration behind the figures portrayed in these thirty or so works. Memories from the history of the Marciana Library, created by Jacopo Sansovino between 1537 and 1560, made up of collapsed masonry, cultural events, debates and various historical incidents, are woven into them.
All these occasions have, for protagonists, fantastic animals, immediately recognizable as such although they are humanized in the witty allegories on display.
There are lions (inspired by the Marciana Library symbol), monkeys, rats and rabbits, frogs and cats, chamois, bears and other symbolic characters in modern dress or Renaissance costume. All linked to the various historical periods of the building where they are housed, creating a fascinating and varied path for the visitor to follow.
One example amongst many illustrates Fosca’s exceptional inventiveness. In the piece titled The Government, the scene is made up of the following elements, animated or not, that represent the metaphor of power, with clear references to that of the Doges of the Serenissima:
The main character, with the head of a bear, wears the ducal cap, peculiar to the doge, his shoulders covered with an ermine cape and behind him a frog dressed as a page carries the ceremonial umbrella.
The two characters are astride a large wooden pen with a metal nib supported by two half-open tomes, an overt allusion to the power of culture, essential component of any enlightened government.
An array of charms, allegories, references and fantasies that make this drawing one of the most interesting of those on display in the Venice exhibition.
But for anyone who loves the traditional art of drawing, increasingly neglected and disarticulated or substituted by alienating and programmed digital techniques, the true emotional discovery that we experience in Fosca’s work is the perfection of the graphics.
The sophistication of the tools and media she chooses guarantee a unique result. Just consider: the paper is Japanese bamboo fibre or alternatively, Schoeller Durex, 100 per cent cotton; the wrico pen-nibs allow for ultra-fine lines, even though the ink used is dense and deep black.
Each figure and setting is etched in perfect detail, enhanced by a delicate gold filigree like that of Renaissance gold-work, which highlights above all the fabric of the clothes worn by various metaphorical characters.
A blend of emotions, enchantment and stimuli that makes Fosca’s exhibition at the Sansovinian Library truly unique and fascinating.