It was the green, leafy combinations of human silhouettes intertwined with botanical images that first attracted me to the work of Dina Petrillo, and for that reason I have used one of them as a symbol and poster for this show. Dina's interest in the various forms of nature and art runs very deep and wide, so it is inevitable that her sources of inspiration as well as the materials she uses to create her works also vary greatly. She is fantastically curious, greedy and inventive! What isn't "takeable" still isn't safe, as it may be taken through photography, sketches, rubbings, or other, more aleatoric means. Nothing around her is excluded from her art - or better - everything around her is included. This could be a reflection of her undergraduate study of Human Ecology, a humanistic approach to education where the arts, sciences and humanities are woven into one all-embracing fabric of learning rather than divided into specialised, separate threads. As an inquisitive artist and educator, her eyes and mind are open wide, and she's just as comfortable addressing difficult aesthetic issues as she is fascinated by many tiny details in life that other people don't even notice - from the delicate patterns of tree trunks chewed by goats to the tiny ridges on leaves. Petrillo mainly uses what is around her, beginning by freely garnering meterials, ideas, and images; then she begins to confidently combine and layer them into compositions of bees wax and papers, photographs, ink, paints, and plant material from her surroundings. Her two and often tree-dimensional objects express not only her interest in (and concern for) the people, creatures, and plants around her, but also her appreciation of the textures of objects and the feel of materials themselves. Then, as a most generous compensation for her "gathering greed", she gives everything she has amassed and re-elaborated back to us, but in her own order and way. And what a delight to experience all of her findings in their new forms!
As in the kitchen, so in the studio: a talented chef can combine what, to a novice, might seem a wild mix of ingredients and spices into the most harmonious meal imaginable; Petrillo does the same with her vast array of subjects and materials. In the mind and hands of a less focused and disciplined artist, such a mix could lead to an unappetising gruel, but in her studio, workplace, and venue (which, importantly, is not only the gallery but often outside in a garden or field) Petrillo patiently blends materials and objects into subtle, sometimes sensual visual poems of sorts. I'm more than happy to interpret them, if you like, but only if you ask here at the show!
And look who comes to my rescue for a fine description of them! Several artists that I have the pleasure of knowing personally are able to express, on canvas or in clay or whatever their chosen medium, ideas and feelings that don't come as quickly, fluently or naturally to them while writing on paper or conversing with others. Want to know about their work? Don't ask them, because they're not really word people; what they have to say they've already said, and it's hanging right there in front of you. Here, yet again, Petrillo is unusual, and stands strong, capable and confident. I'm fortunate, as curator of this exhibition, to be able to leave you with the artist's words, instead of my own; they are not, by any means, a key you need to unlock secrets or interpret her work - her oeuvre is quite approachable and legible as is - but they are a fine description. Dina Petrillo has an uncanny ability to communicate in whatever medium she desires, and she says it best!
Castello di Galeazza, 27 February 2012