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PH Marta Marinotti / Federico Floriani


Martina Cassatella’s works are paintings of shadow traversed by light: strong gleams emerge from the dark, like in the dark the flame of a candle, and in the dark thin filaments chew through the darkness, becoming a curtain on the beyond that blinds. Like gently plucked strings, from the hands the threads are knotted and woven with the grains of light, traversing a fictitious loom, like Penelope and the women of mythical Greekness, or Moire wrapping and spinning the destiny of men.


In Christian and Orthodox icons, as in Buddhist mudras, the position of the hands is maieutic: they guide and suggest with their own language. The female archetypes of virgin and vulnerable goddesses, or the madonnas of Christianity offer hands for guidance and comfort in gentle embraces.

Thus, Cassatella’s paintings featuring hands invite one to go beyond, in an act that is pristine and poetic, albeit dense with terror. 

The principle of vision, of the dazzle of the miracle, of the apparition that immobilises and unsettles and which travels through the entire pictorial work, awakening the memory of the moment of birth in which the inside is welcoming and complete, and instead, what awaits outside is unknown, perhaps frightening. 


Sacred images provide a glimpse of eternity, filling oneself with that strange wonder one has when faced with things that are not human, alien and supernatural, yet so human that they reappear in the form of imago, ancient and un- conscious as myths and legends. In contrast in folklore one breathes in the smells of the below, of the deepest possible interior and filth that crawls like Japanese yokai, and of the darkness that clings to man in everyday mysteries.

Martina’s paintings stand at the moment of the collision between the two , in the pain of limbo, both sweet and sour, and appear as spyholes between the dark cave and the reality of the dazzling outside. But the gaze is mostly from within, like energy that shines and tenderly encloses.


Born in 1996, San Giovanni Rotondo, FG (Italy). She lives and works in Milan.



In 2021 she received her Master’s degree in Painting from the Brera Academy of

Fine Arts.



“Salon Palermo 2”, Rizzuto Gallery, Palermo, group exhibition curated by Antonio Grulli and Francesco De Grandi (2022), “Tre modi per dire la stessa cosa”, ArtNoble Gallery, Milan, group exhibition curated by Antonio Grulli (2022), “Notturno”, Palazzo Hercolani, Bologna, Italy, group exhibition curated by Domenico de Chirico (2022), “Or three ways of putting the same thing”, ArtNoble Gallery, London, group exhibition curated by Antonio Grulli (2023), “The Shape of Time”, Lindon&Co., London, group exhibition curated by Alice Amati (2023).



Finalist for the “Francesco Fabbri Prize for contemporary art” (2022)

"Catching fireflies (IX)", 90 x 120 cm, oil on canvas, 2024. Courtesy by the artist

The work belongs to a body of recent work in which light, an essential component of the artist's research, is objectified in small fireflies that faintly illuminate the vast darkness as hands try to catch them, but gently. Their disappearance was used by Pasolini as the perfect image and expedient to express the suffering of the great historical and anthropological change that characterized that time. And so their reappearance represents an invitation to the hope of marveling at, again, through free and pure play with fireflies: thus the darkness is no longer frightening. The memory of this, which, however, always remains, is cheered by the simplicity and uniqueness of contemplating the glow of the little star insects. If the darkness were not there, we would not be able to see them; that is why it is important to face it. The violence of daylight, however, makes them disappear. Fireflies, with their delicacy in illuminating, are the symbol of the poetry that lives in the simple, that finally restores us to wonder. As in the scenes

of the great cinematic masterpiece "A Grave for Fireflies" by Isao Takahata, co-founder of the Ghibli studio, which the work in question shyly pays homage to. Instead, the title of the work is inspired by the vast series of Japanese prints related to the theme of catching fireflies.

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