Franca Di Pietro knows how to combine cultural influences. The Italian-born painter has lived in the United States for eight years, but for her entire career, she has taken stylistic inspiration from the tonalities traditionally found in northern European art.
All these influences now come together in a new gallery exhibit of oil paintings, “Notes On An American Journey,” on display at the Consulate General of Italy until May 6.
Di Pietro divides the 20-work collection into four diverse series that she painted between 2005 and 2011: New York, American Aerial Views, Seaside and Boston Ghost Town. Though each section has its own distinct qualities and content, Di Pietro ties them together with her “love of gray,” a color that she says fascinates her and relates to her appreciation of Danish art.
She also creates an ambiance of magic realism throughout. “I’m most interested in the secret aspects of things, seeing them through the clouds, the fog,” she says. The feeling dominates in her four paintings dedicated to New York, where she lived for seven years before moving to Boston.
“In New York, you feel more energy, but there’s always a secret side,” says Di Pietro. She explains that by living there for so long, she was able to uncover layers of the city that often remain hidden to tourists or short-term visitors.
And while she captures New York’s iconic buildings in muted tones of blue, green and red, shades of gray and white cover the five canvases of her most recent series, thoughtfully entitled Boston Ghost Town. In the paintings, Di Pietro presents wintery scenes at the city’s most recognizable landmarks, such as the State House and Boston Common, and gives then life with bold touches of red and gold. Though the images lack human activity, they feature the figures of chic feminine ghosts from the 19th century.
“I’ve always taken an interest in women and their world,” says Di Pietro, who pays homage to one of her heroines, Louisa May Alcott, by depicting her with the “fabulous” golden dome of the State House in the background.
“Notes On An American Journey” is on display during the Consulate’s normal business hours. The works are available for purchase and range from $800 to $2,000.