There are languages in the vast world of art where technique plays a primary role. I’m thinking trivially of hyperrealism, where the absence of a “photographic” effect com- promises the result of the work, or of techniques that have, so to speak, a more artisanal execution system, such as engraving, in its various forms, or the inlay. In particular in the latter technique, the wrong choice of wood essences, the inadequate composition of the veins and above all the lack of precision in the cutting of the materials and in the realiza- tion of the joints make the result unpleasant beyond the composition of the image.
Gyotaku is not exempt from these problems, a technique that we can consider quite young, which precisely because of its original function and the delicacy of the materials used im- poses construction skills that leave little room for error, for approximation. I will not dwell on the origin and details of this technique, well summarized and told in this volume in a dedicated chapter. My task is, at the very least, to ascertain how Elena Di Capita, in respect of this noble art, knows how to perfectly combine the different elements by elaborating works that are undoubtedly faithful to and respectful of the primordial function of the Gyotaku. Therefore, the fish species used are easily recognizable (an aspect that we could consider as “the minimum penalty”) but above all the details remain evident, from the small fins to the lach of a scale in an anchovy, from a lesion caused by the fishing action to the incredible geometry of a tuna skin.
Moving the point of view a little further, however, I cannot fail to reflect on how the weight of the technique risks obscuring the artistic expression in certain languages, which is not the purpose for which Gyotaku was born.
Is Elena just technique and is her work limited to it?
No, definitely not. The young artist made the technique her own and then used it for pur- poses that go beyond its original function. This can be understood immediately by obser- ving her works and confirmed by talking to her. The reasons are different. They certainly start from its origins and from feeling the story of a sea which, with its treasure of stupendous species, is culture, history, tradition, a way of being, of living, of understanding the sea itself. Hence, Elena does not limit herself to imprinting a shape on a support but makes it become a story, full of
infinite facets and mysteries, as deep as our sea is, that sea where she grew up. She works on the composition, certainly remaining loyal to the nature that populates his papers and canvases, but creating all the dynamism that make us enter the work, to hear the muffled sounds of the underwater movement, to experience both the peace of jellyfish that float like dancers in the sea as much as the drama of the small anchovies that escape the rostrum of the mediterranean sparefish. In this context, it is necessary to underline the artist’s ability to give volume and depth to his works; but it is fair to point out how this happens by skilfully playing on the tones thanks to the right application of the technique, certainly, but even more thanks to his artistic awareness, matured in his studies and in his career.
.Finally, Elena goes further, using her subjects to approach different stories, metaphors of life in and out of the sea. Works of art that speak of movement and uniqueness, of masses that move together, perhaps unaware, following their path, oblivious to the world around them, perhaps just like she did, like every artist does. A different color is enough to circumscribe the story. The variation of shades is enough to ignite the work. And even in this way the artistic component manifests itself, is fulfilled, lives.
The picture is therefore clear, the profile complete: Elena Di Capita is not only a worthy spoke- sperson for the Gyotaku technique but she is also an artist who deserves credit for having been able to transform simple language into poetry. It may seem like a trivial consideration but it is instead what has happened, over the centuries, to the techniques mentioned at the beginning, which while remaining fundamentally consistent in execution thanks to the skilled hands of tho- se who applied them, have gradually been enriched with new functions and finality thanks to the heart that those same hands guided.
If I may allow myself a non-artistic consideration, I cannot fail to point out how Elena’s work finds a response in the world of collecting, both established ones and young ones, which goes decidedly against the tide in this precise historical moment. A clear sign of the goodness of his work, of the validity of the Gyotaku technique and of the interest he knows how to arouse in the observer.
Elena Di Capita certainly deserves to be observed and followed along her journey also because the projects she is launching, and which it is premature to anticipate in these pages, reveal an artistic ferment and an expressive fertility that necessarily call attention. I can only add that the boundaries of his expressive research seem to have no limits, the respect for technique seems almost religious. I think I can say, without fear of contradiction, that the Japanese fishermen who created this technique in the first decades of the 18th century would be proud and happy to see where it is taking it today.
Marc Porrini Président de Gyotaku Art Europe
In the international panorama Elena Di Capita belongs to this small circle of artists who contribute to an artistic development inspired by the traditional Japanese art of gyotaku. The raw “fishing souvenir” imprint in Indian ink on washi paper that Japanese fishermen make to immortalize an exceptional fishing catch immediately struck Elena who created these famous anchovy beds and very quickly became “that of the anchovies”. With exceptional talent, the works of the bubbling Ligurian artist pay homage to the most popular fish in his land of origin, to this magnificent region and its fishermen. His works are dynamic, three-dimensional compositions that transcend traditional Japanese iconography. The search for shades shadows and composi- tions full of dynamism reflect his origin. His research as an artist continues by con- stantly experimenting with new methods, new materials and new subjects, which while respecting the deep meaning of gyotaku, transcend and enrich this traditional Japanese art.
Domo arigato Elena
Président de Gyotaku Art Europe