Marta Roberti

Self-portraits Asanas made during the lockdown

By La Galleria Nazionale

Self portrait in garland pose with a pangoline (2020) by Marta RobertiLa Galleria Nazionale

About My Drawings

I believe that creating outlines and frames depends on the primitive need to isolate shapes from an indefinite background from which they emerge and which can be disturbing.

It is as if we were all immersed in an indefinite fund (in Difference and Repetition, Deleuze also called it “a cloaca, a universal leguminous and digestive ground”) that presents itself as a problem to be solved.

According to the French philosopher, the process of identification consists in the emergence from this background and “the problem, far from dissolving, persists in the solutions that cloak it.”

Perhaps it is precisely the feeling of having created a frame or a shape for the drawing, it is having identified a solution connected to a certain time, place and state of the soul that makes me continue to perceive that the problem, the background, is still there in ambush and to ensure that that outline, which has been distinguished once, can potentially change at another time, in another exhibition.

Playing with the contours and frames, perceiving the frame as something mobile gives me a sense of freedom, and is closer to the nature of being understood as rhizomatic.

The section defined by a contour is a possible identification of a circuit of being.

Not using a single sheet as a rigid frame in which to draw something inside, but perceiving that sheet as a section of something that can grow around it, I think reflects this intuition of reality through the assembly of other sheets.

The lack of closure of an image is less reassuring than a well-defined and concluded form, it is a game of balance that I believe is perceived not only by me who face it personally, but also by those who observe it.

In moments of strong emotional instability, I happened to generate more stable and compact shapes, on which I no longer feel the need to return. Paradoxically, in my moments of profound discouragement, I draw things that may appear to be born from a condition of firmness and lightness, instead that closed and distinct form, I believe it is a reaction to the deepest inner turmoil.

It is precisely this type of drawings displayed in this exhibition: born during the lockdown in March and April 2020. They are self-portraits in which my body appears in postures inspired by asanas.

In reality the postures that I have represented are impossible to assume, they would imply broken bones or a balance in points of the body that could never support it. In my drawings, those bodies are instead like monolithic and at the same time fragile statues, built from thousands of small signs obtained with the graphite of carbon paper.

In these images, my body tries to imitate defensive animal postures or it curls up and becomes similar to a snail.

Marta Roberti

Finding balance on a mossy rock (2020) by Marta RobertiLa Galleria Nazionale

Marta Roberti
(Brescia, 1977. She lives and works in Rome.)

Marta Roberti has made thousands of drawings over the years.

Made on A4 sheets, they can be assembled and reassembled depending on the image that interests her at that moment, but also on the available space, opening up to a possibility of combinations and interpolations between different cycles: animals, natures, self-portraits.

They are large-format works, whose limit is never defined a priori, because it is the image that decides the extent of the support and not vice versa.

These drawings are not drawn directly on the paper, but on a sheet of carbon paper from which – as in the engraving – the color is scratched off.

It could be said that the medium of Marta Roberti's work is precisely this opaque surface that stands between the images, which is the matrix or body of the work and always generates a design and its double: the image obtained by removing which appears on the copy paper as a negative; the residue of graphite or color that is removed from the copy paper and imprinted on the underlying sheet.

The large drawings on display were made during the isolation period of spring 2020.

Selfportrait watching a pangoline in bhujapidasana (2020) by Marta RobertiLa Galleria Nazionale

They are self-portraits that continue a previous series in which the artist was depicted performing various Asanas inspired by animal postures, which appeared as guiding spirits beside her.

In this new series the body and the head try to assume a snail shape. “I studied the poses of animals, in particular those they can take when they are threatened or attacked.

I added a new element which is the pangolin, that animal as the intermediate host of the virus between bats and humans. It appears in the first drawing of this series and then in all the others, in my hair made with the scales it is covered with, as if they became a protective helmet”.

Human animal and non-human animal are no longer separate, but they have become one: “Finally, finally my shell had really broken and I was limitless. Not being, I was. Until the end of what I was not, I was. What I am not, I am. I will be all in me if I am not; since 'I' is just one of the instantaneous spasms of the world.”

Fragile, impermanent, immeasurable because the limit of an image is lost in the space and light that surrounds them, Marta Roberti’s works invite us to seek, like the mysterious and luminous figures that inhabit them, an interpenetration with time and nature to be reached through the senses, to let the breath of the world pass through us.

Cecilia Canziani

Credits: Story

Marta Roberti and Cecilia Canziani
Works cited:
G. Deleuze, Difference and Repetition,
quote taken from internet , accessed on February 17, 2021.
C. Lispector, The Passion According to G.H.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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