The skin of the neck, slightly reddened, a very close cut, almost claustrophobic, the hair collected and still dripping as if the protagonist of Chiara Enzo’s canvas Nuca, B (2021) had just come out of the shower. Portrayed from behind, she is frozen in a moment of daily routine and thanks to perspective choices and attention to details, the figure abstracts, removing herself from the linear flow of time. The small picture (19cm x 19cm), the selective focus, the green background – perhaps the damp walls of the bathroom whose mirror can be imagined not too far away and probably foggy, and the raised point of view are the clues that make the pictorial representation vacillate between the intimacy of a lover’s gaze and the obsession of a serial killer. Chiara Enzo moving from an imaginary close to the representations of Domenico Gnoli and the wide-open eyes of Norman Bates, the protagonist of Hitchcock’s masterpiece Pshyco overwhelms the viewer with an unexpected vision: a window on a dimension so close but always offering new discoveries.

And it is precisely the ambivalence between the tenderness released by the pale and soft tones used by the Italian artist and the extreme close-up, almost obsessive cut, that distinguishes Nuca, B. Chiara Enzo starts from body fragments, pieces of skin belonging to different subjects, only hinted profiles – a flashback to pointillism, to build a new representation and perception of the body in the contemporary dimension in which the body and above all its materiality and physicality tend to fade more and more. Painting becomes the tool with which to know this meeting ground of the ego with the world: in fact the skin, the epidermis and the touch are the places where each of us has direct experience of the other, of the world, of the unknown. The space in which to encounter pleasure and pain. The nuanced brushstrokes that outline the contours of Chiara Enzo’s bodies but without inscribing them in a hyper-realistic representation mean that they settle down in a wavering narration: the observer, enjoying this voyeuristic and ambiguous gaze, explodes his own interiority and his own relationship with the body.

Intimate and violent, Enzo’s painting, with obsessive insistence, brings the observer inside, almost sucking him in: driven to approach the work, as if hypnotized by the song of a mermaid, it creates a real active relationship of representation. Painting finds a new relationship with the human organism both through the image and the very act of looking as protagonists.

Chiara Enzo
Nuca, B., 2021.
Tempera, pastel, coloured pencils on cardboard applied on wooden board, 19 x 19 cm.
Private Collection. Courtesy the Artist and Zero…, Milan. © Chiara Enzo