"Viva L’Italia Aglaura", Exhibition catalog, September 2006
By Matthew J. Westerby
The colorfully intense landscape of Manfredi Beninati’s painting Viva L’Italia Aglaura recalls an all-encompassing dream. As a former film director, Beninati knows how to frame a scene to evoke the eccentricities of time and place, lending a surreal quality to his paintings. The painting inextricably confuses time and place, and the panorama layers figures of children and animals scaled down to miniature. The canvas boldly presents a nursery of hodgepodge reality. The opaque membrane between foreground and background obscures the lines between fiction and reality. Anchored at the top of the composition, mustard yellow streamers frame the dreamscape like a proscenium arch, adding a sense of theatricality to the painting. Color is washed across the hazy background, stippled onto the decorative trees, and dripped down the color-saturated canvas surface. Viva L’Italia Aglaura speaks with a literary tongue and functions as a fairytale. The ambiguous figures placed in grasses and perched in flowers take part in the fantasy. Like the sugar-frosted cake at a child’s birthday party, Viva L’Italia Aglaura is immediately accessible, residing as it does in the constructed realities of memory.