Barbara Luisi, Blue Caribbean Night


By Barbara Luisi

From 22 January, 2015
To 11 February, 2015

Seeing, hearing, touching…

The ocean is a voice. It talks to the distant stars…


It is this “voice of the océan” that Barbara Luisi’s photographic seascapes bring to us. As we look at them, do we not think we hear the endless low rumble of the waves? This cenesthetic phenomenon is not surprising: the visual impressions the pictures convey are so strong that they readily transform into auditory impressions. They also echo the cosmic dialogue between the sea and the firmament evoked in Michelet’s work (…) Is this the reason for the strange disquietude that takes hold of us when we behold these images of sombre expanses empty of all human presence? “A brave Dutch sailor, a steadfast and cold observer, who spends his time on the sea, frankly says that the first impression one gets from it is fear”: thus begins Michelet’s book The Sea. One might suppose that there are pragmatic reasons for the fear this impetuous seaman feels: a fear of what seems to him to be a hostile power that must be faced. But the reasons for our fear are of a metaphysical kind: it is a fear that arises from the encounter between our own finiteness and the infinite. It is interesting to note, in this respect, that in Barbara Luisi’s seascapes, there is nothing to limit the immensity—neither shore nor horizon, for the sea often blends into the sky, which can only be identified thanks to the starlight reflected on the surface of the bitter water. It is as if this expanse has neither beginning nor end. Neither does it have contours, which is why, because it is taken beyond the category of “things” – since everything in our rational cosmology has a form—it has been so difficult for painters to depict. For a long time, in painting, the sea was just a setting for genre scenes or historical events (…). Only when the Impressionists – preceded by Turner – came along did the sea become a painterly subject in its own right. Barbara Luisi takes up the challenge that the sea throws down to painting. But hers is not the diurnal, lambent sea that allowed Monet, Renoir, Manet and many others to play with shades of blue, grey and green; it is not the tamed sea that offers a tempting venue for bathing— a fashion that was not slow to catch on during that period. Hers is a nocturnal, shadowy, inky sea, now black, now blue—a blue so dark it borders on blackness. And only what the poet so aptly dubbed “the dark light that falls from the stars” punctures this dark surface with its cold light. And it matters little that the stunning chiaroscuro that results owes more to the moon than the stars (…) If Michelet’s ocean converses with the stars, Barbara Luisi’s ocean engages in a dialogue with painting. First of all with Courbet, then with Richter in his series of seascapes and then there is also a dialogue with Rothko’s work: his coloured fields with uncertain outlines which, like Luisi’s oceans, challenge notions of form, frontier and colour.



Glorietta Gallery, Beirut Jewellery Souks
Beirut Central District


From 22 January, 2015
To 11 February, 2015

12:00pm - 8:00pm