Images a little bit true, a little dreamed up

Prof. Francesco Carelli

University of Milan

Altough  Felicita Frai arrived from Prague in Italy many years ago, she can’t be understood if one doesn’t keep well in mind from where she has left off.  She has carried  it along in her clear, light blue eyes. One can find it again in the young girls of her paintings, who keep inwardly the melancholy of the immutable Moldava, it exists in her flowers.  She recalls a world which doesn’t exist anymore; magazines and cafés, theatres and people, fashions and speeches, but she is always a part of the reality which surrounds her, and from which she is able to get away.

To look at her paintings is a pleasure: they seem to reflect a far away paradise, full of enraptured creatures and unbelievable corollas. She has so much painted flowers because she missed the flowers which she sowed at  home in Prague and which never grew up , so she created them. Observing them, she discovered that they are similar to us: they need love.  Since they die, it seemed to her that, painting them, she was stopping the flowing of time.

For her to be a portraitist, was a kind of cross-breed: a psychological study with the help of brushes and colours. She said to have four eyes: two of them, which look at things when she wished, and two others, which were used to see.    For her painting was like breathing.

Her first really important experience with the painter Achille Funi: in his studio, she smelled the characteristic smell of a painter’s studio: colours, paints, turpentine, volatile essences, and also the atmosphere.  All of a sudden, everything could be touched, used, consumed, pencils, charcoal, sanguine, sponge, papers, to paint the model from life.  She described all this as walking in a wood without knowing where to go, with so many feelings, at the moment, unable to put in order.  It was a thing of a few minutes, but it never left her.

Women were always very close to her pictorial matter; her subjects have no age, never real figures, always dreamed, evoked.  Giorgio De Chirico say about her that it is the difficulty which interests and fascinates her; she invented everything.  In the eyes of her women there is more astonishment than happiness because she said  “ I am astonished, but I am not happy”.  She never painted landscapes because according her “ Nature ought to enter me, but I am not able to grasp it. There are great artists who have painted only details. I think that a blade of grass, if you look well at it. Has a story never ended “.  For Felicita Frai to finish a painting it was meaning  either to get rid of it because you are tired or to accept it because you know its limits or because, seeing it again, you realize that you have made your speech and that others will be able to read it.