Woman with a Sling

When I first saw Donna Festa’s advertisement in the New Art Examiner it attracted me. little did I think I would see the actual work. I did so in Redwing, a community gallery in Penzance, Cornwall.
20 very small, almost miniatures, lined up on one wall driving the point home of displayed title of one word ‘Broken’.
Each tiny painting in its darkness usually reveals a single figure or head, remarkably each emanates its own story, a concluding narrative on a life. This exhibition is a tour de force on the plight of the old.
Donna Festa, through her paining, makes a claim for significance. Casually one could describe the work as Lucien Freud in miniature, with Francis Bacon hovering in the background. This work needs very careful attention as the slightest difference in tonality and hue is orchestrated to tell the unique narrative of a unique human being,
Yet the lesson of the tragedy of these people is that this could be our fate. Our deterioration with age, Alzheimers, and the vacation of consciousness is portrayed as what awaits us.
Donna Festa deals in art with our destiny. A supreme achievement. Technically she ranks with modernist artist Vuillard; in individual discernment of colour and tone with a passing reference to Vermeer who lives in history but survives in the present. It took Vermeer 300 years to achieve the status of Old Master, given our broken and celebrity driven art world this writer cannot speculate on the future status of Donna Festa.
I leave this exhibition chastened and hopeful as this artist has shone through the shabbiness of our present culture.

Derek Guthrie

Volume 33.no.1 September / October 2018 p 31

‘Broken’ Redwing Gallery Penzance 16th -26th July 2018

4 thoughts on “Broken: Donna Festa at Redwing

  1. I just saw in Facebook that Donna Festa is having an exhibition at the Fish Factory in Penryn, Cornwall opening this week on the 8th of November.

    1. This is good. That quality art is finding a way to circulate on the community grapevine. this is progress that the community grapevine is finding energy and commitment to feature art other than the hometown artists.

  2. Hi Derek,
    I was down in Cornwall last summer and saw Donna Festa’s paintings at the Redwing Gallery in Penzance and was deeply disturbed by them, not so much by the artwork, but by the theme “Broken”. The fact that so many of our elderly are in deplorable conditions, mentally and physically is a big cause for anguish as we all grow older. Does it have to be this way? Cannot growing old be a joyous experience, a moment for renewal and not only one for decay? Her paintings touched to the core, as she displayed the reality of the elderly today in our western, “modern” world, but I find this reality a sad, sad one. I would prefer to be thrown off the bridge like they did with the old Roman orators when they became useless. Anything must be better than life in the homes for the elderly, away from family and friends, and once again treated like a child.

    1. I agree. The failure of our culture.T he good thing is we have an artist with the skill, and humanity to make excellent art referring to this, Therefore fulfilling a What Art at its best can and should do.

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