Nadia Cascini’s ethereal oil paintings fuse the abstract and the figurative with just a touch of magic. Constructing luminous landscapes from overlapping individual shapes and thin layers of paint, she transports her audience to a spellbinding version of her homeland of Italy and beyond to some of her favourite European locations. By capturing physical features and expressive associations, she creates work which is both grounded in reality and richly imaginative. Refined, elaborate and emotional, Cascini’s paintings appear to radiate light, using it to express the energy and warmth within the scene. Each one is illuminated from the centre, but the light then fades as it moves away and softens towards the edges of the canvas. “The light” she says “comes in many forms; shattered or nuanced, violent or sweet. Inside each shape is a multitude of overlapping and fragmented colours and the more they take over, the more the form crumbles and fades and I feel my painting rise. The structure, which has been hidden between light and shadow, gradually reveals itself.”
Cascini was born in Arezzo in Tuscany in 1970, the daughter of two master goldsmiths. It was the glow and reflective gleam of metal that first sparked her interest in the effects of light - first on an object but later, when she went on to study art, on a landscape. In the late 1980s, she began to attract attention by winning a series of local and then national prizes for her paintings; mentored by art critic and artist Umberto Zaccaria she flourished, and her work began to reach a wider audience, first in galleries and then with collectors, including many public figures from Italian political life.
After spending some time in Milan, Cascini returned home to Tuscany, to live in the beautiful old farmhouse she calls home. Built over a period of 700 years (beginning in the 13th century and completed in 1900) it is situated at the heart of an Etruscan settlement of great historical importance. Living here and loving it as she does means she has forged a strong connection with the history, culture and overwhelming beauty of the land and its features. “I am” she says, “a daughter of Tuscany.”
The poetry, light and atmosphere of this region, beloved of artists over the centuries, is ever present in Cascini’s deeply personal work. “My personality is found in every detail,” she says. “It reflects me like a mirror.” Her paintings are defined by a generosity of colour and shape, a love of landscape, architecture and light, and the search for a harmonious dialogue between all these elements to create a balanced and emotionally satisfying composition. When she began to travel further afield to paint, she brought these qualities into her interpretations of towns and cities from Venice and London to St. Tropez and Honfleur.
For many years now, her landscapes have graced important art galleries in Europe, Asia and the United States. Amongst her many awards, her most prized is the Marina di Ravenna Painting Prize which she won in 1999 at the age of 29; she was the first, and remains the only, female artist ever to have won this prestigious award.
"I discovered I could observe even before seeing ... so, I stole the appearance of things to distil their essence through colour. There are moments, when I paint, when everything is dissolved, the noises disappear, only me and my canvas remain; it tells me what to do, I obey.”