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.
Volume 33.no.1 September / October 2018 p 31
‘Broken’ Redwing Gallery Penzance 16th -26th July 2018