selection from the series

The English version of the exhibition title, Colourspeak, forms an interesting counterpoint to the Italian original, since it conveys a subtly different meaning. The old Italian word ‘favella’ suggests a more lyrical kind of speech; and it also reflects Irsara’s continuing interest in Dante’s Divine Comedy, one of the core elements in her exhibition at Diorama, which took as its theme the transmigration of souls. This time it is colour, a formal aspect of the work which is also the theme, but we know that it will incorporate many layers of interpretation, like the three dimensional effect of Irsara’s paper pulp technique. There is a sequence of colour ‘favellas’, devised from a restricted palette, which speak to each other and to us. One, for example, is the turquoise ‘favella’ which contains signs or symbols, like the debris or thoughts which try to form in a whirlwind.

Some years ago, I visited Irsara and found her working at her kitchen table. I sat and watched her selecting and combining different pieces of coloured paper, some of which were scattered on the floor. I was aware of feeling encompassed by this mysterious process – mysterious to me though not to her – in which the selection of elements would take us both into a new work, a new world. In each individual work there is a complex and often lengthy process of ideas and materials taking shape, but the final effect is a contemporary lyric of intense colours.

Frances Presley (July 2005)