Reflejos del Níger – 2010 –

Il Fiume della Vita

I still remember the day I met Irene, I was at the  Florence airport waiting for the flight from Madrid. The few paintings of hers  that I had seen had made me curious; no, I would even say they’d really struck me and therefore I couldn’t wait to meet her.

A handshake was enough to understand that the fragility of that young woman with the sweetest of eyes was only apparent.

Irene is determined, self-confident, she knows what is important and inside herself the desire to express emotions and sentiments and the ability to do it through her images feed a great fire.

The dusty and light-filled atmospheres of Irene’s paintings could not help but fascinate me, I was immediately taken by that far-off world that she manages to communicate to us through her paintings. A world different from our own, hard, fascinating, where each day is the same and at the same time different; as if the passing of time were marked by the blowing of the wind through the dunes. Her experience with the desert nomads in Mali has made a deep impact on her imagination and has inspired all her paintings.

Images of a romantic Africa that doesn’t seem to exist, but the Africa of Irene Lopez de Castro is much more than just this. The dreams, the hopes, the long story of life are all there in those enigmatic faces, in those smiles full of silence, in those dusty atmospheres where the wind and sand soften the blinding reflection of the sun.

I  look at her paintings, as if entranced and unable to resist, almost imagining I could smell the odors of the spices in the noisy marketplaces, see the lights, the colors of the fabrics, the movements of a dusty and busy humanity, I look at the slender fishermen’s boats coming back at sunset, I listen to the song of the wind in the muffled atmospheres of the walks through the dunes and I return to freshen up and regain my energy in the calm waters of the Niger River, which every day silently continues to bring life to the desert.

Patrizia Barlettani

In memory of Patrizia Barlettani