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Rome-based figurative painter Diletta Innocenti Fagni has focused on the simple but powerful symbol of hugging in her latest series of oil paintings. In the wake of the pandemic, she aims to present the comforting gesture as a symbol of hope and optimism.
A few years ago, the idea of giving someone a hug would be considered commonplace. It’s one of those little gestures that greases the wheels of social interactions but in most circumstances, not something that’s loaded with a hefty significance.
All that changed in 2020, of course. During the pandemic, physical social interactions were limited on an unprecedented scale, and the idea of embracing someone in your arms felt not only alien but dangerous too. And while we haven’t fully emerged from the grip of Covid-19, restrictions are easing and the idea of a hug has morphed from something scary to a symbol of hope.
That’s the idea behind University of Rome art graduate Diletta’s latest series of paintings. In them, we see figures hugging sometimes tentatively, sometimes mournfully, or in some situations so happily that they’re bursting with flowers.
She goes on to explain that her work usually “draws on mnemonic images and visual resources as starting points, looking for intimacy, emotions and identity, between present and past, real and unreal.” This ethereal quality can be seen in her brushwork as well as her subjects. There’s a soft, smokey element to her painting, which strangely enough can give her models both a sense of animation and the impression that they’re dissolving into the background.
Specialising in portraits and bodies captured in private moments, Diletta seeks to evoke the power of images. “I’m particularly interested in celebrating the femininity of women, their beauty, elegance and strength and exploring relationships, psychologies, and feelings connected to memories and dreams,” she adds.