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Walking into Patrizia Zingaretti’s apartment in the Gavinana neighborhood of Florence, Italy, is a lot like walking into a furnished art gallery. Paintings of assorted sizes pepper either side of the hallway walls, flowing into the kitchen, spilling into the bedroom, and tracing back to their original source in the rear of the house: her sunny artist’s studio where she channels her passion for painting and teaching by offering art classes to small groups.
“It was really with enthusiasm that I began this endeavor,” Patrizia said. “I wanted people to not only come into a studio but to enter into the life of an artist. At the end of the day, it’s a meeting among people.”
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Just one year ago, she began offering art classes in Florence to Italians and tourists alike, limiting the size of the classes to five people at a time. However, when COVID-19 broke out, the momentum she had just started to build was cut short and reservations were cancelled. Paradoxically, as restrictions continue to loosen, she believes her art classes are more fundamental than ever.
“I believe art is linked to healing,” Patrizia said. “We have to be deliberate with things. We shouldn't do them in a materialistic way but instead with care.”
Patrizia teaches her students how to paint with egg on tempera, an ancient painting technique that dates back to Medicean times and requires a slow and steady pace.The time and patience her students are forced to employ during the classes is not only a form of therapy in her opinion but also changes their perspective of art forever.
“This makes a mark on people because when they go back and see these paintings, they see them with a different eye, not just from a perspective of art history but also of the physical material.”
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After moving to Florence from her hometown of Perugia at the age of 19, Patrizia was unable to attend an art academy, having to work a number of odd jobs to support herself. Now she teaches at one. Patrizia teaches a number of classes regarding dress, fashion, and form at the prestigious L’academia di Moda e Design in Florence.
Although she was able to take a few instructive classes here and there throughout the years, she is principally self-taught. The techniques she commonly uses, such as the ancient art of egg tempera, she perfected merely by reading detailed art manuals and books written hundreds of years ago. Talk about patience.
When she’s not teaching art classes in her home studio or teaching students at the university, Patrizia is working on her own paintings, many of which fall into a certain theme.
“My paintings are mostly these heads seen from the back. At first I didn't understand why, but with time I understood,” Patrizia said. “This zone of the head interests me because I’m interested in this area where there’s the link between the body and the spirit.”
When I asked to see her favorite paintings, she led me to a bedroom in the middle of the apartment, with two large beige panels on the walls. She informs me with a flicker of enthusiasm that a noble family of Florence bought several of these works for its palazzo and had even given her the chance to see where they’re hanging. Both feature a woman’s head, seen from the front this time, and drawn in colored pencil, thousands of individual lines swirling together to form their hair-do’s.
“It’s so meditative. When I sit down to do this work, line after line, little by little, without hurry. It was a form of creative meditation and then it also recalls the infinite. It’s realistic but then at the same time it’s not. It’s a symbol, a vortex of something.”
Patrizia's works have been displayed in a number of galleries and installations throughout Italy and abroad, from the Museo di arte Moderna di Monreale in Sicily to the Galleria Tornabuoni in Florence to a number of installations for major banks in Germany and Austria.
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Just like Vincent Van Gogh said, “I dream my painting and I paint my dream,” Patrizia also draws inspiration from her REM cycles.
“Very often my dreams also serve as inspiration. I’m also able to have lucid dreams. In the morning, as soon as I wake up I see these images. I let them come to me and I say simply, “I like it” or “I don’t like it” and as a consequence I get to work.”
One day, her dreams from the night before served as fruitful inspiration for an avant-garde series of paintings.
“At a certain point, I woke up in the morning and said, ‘Why not imagine what they’ll look like from the back?’ The Lady With An Ermine, The Girl With A Pearl Earring by Vermeer. And what would the Lucrezia Borgia by Bartolomeo Veneto be like, seen from behind with all that curly hair?”
And so she combined her passion from copying masterpieces with ancient techniques, her knowledge of fashion and dress from her role at the Academy, and her passion for painting the back of the head, into this new, innovative category of paintings. In 2016, Patrizia compiled these imaginative works in a book called, Un Insolito Punto Di Vista or in English “An Unusual Point of View.”
When I asked her how long it usually takes to finish a painting, she gave a response that applies to all creative fields, careers, personal endeavors that we set out on.
“It depends how clear you are within yourself about what you want to do,” Patrizia said.
Get your paint brushes dirty and immerse yourself in Renaissance art by
booking an art class with Patrizia Zingaretti
view more of her artwork here
and be sure to stop by the lovely Raffaella Sarta gallery in Borgo San Jacopo to view them in person.
American content writer in Italy. Her hobbies include getting dressed up to go to art museums, hopping on trains to cities she's never been, and talking to herself in a mixture of English and Italian.