A realistically painted landscape is often compared to a window, once it is put on the wall, except that no fresh air is coming through. Expressionists say they’ve solved the problem by pumping their “emotional airs” into your room with bold combinations of pure colours.
Abstractionists say they are not about providing a window at all. They open a door for you through which you can exit into a universe of new ideas. Indeed, the famous Black Square is not a window to the night sky, it is a portal into an art history discussion club.
A gallerist once told me her customers can be roughly divided into the contented type favouring nicely decorated windows, and restless minds in search of a door. Once you understand which group the customer belongs to, you put the appropriate verbal dressing on top of a relevant artwork, and a sale is almost guaranteed.
Restless minds also love taking pictures of doors. They often believe a door somehow reflects the reality behind it: they way people live, who lives there, and what they prefer to have for breakfast.
There is a village in Italy, which residents decided they wanted their doors to be windows. Windows to or mirrors of the worlds created by other people. So, each year they invite artists to come over for three days and paint their doors.
If you happen to be in the north of Italy (or the south of France) at the beginning of August, come over to this village, Valloria. It could be the name of a mythical country, a goddess of something vitally important, like virgin olive oil, or even a planet! If you are a fantasy writer, stop inventing stupid names, just borrow those of Italian villages.
Valloria is a relatively short drive inland from the coastal city of Imperia, which itself is a sad reminder that all modern mediterranean empires crumble into neglect if they can’t offer sandy beaches, premium night clubs, and berths for mega-yachts.
All doors in Valloria are painted over, and sometimes by established artists.
As you park your car at the entrance to the village, a big mural tells you its residents are a no-nonsense agricultural community of straightforward cat-adoring folks.
And then you enter a gallery of dozens of painted doors.
Someone may say the paintings are naive and trite. Any one of them, being exhibited at a gallery, would probably harvest as much smugness and snobbery as a gaudily attired footballer’s wife at Ascot. No. In Valloria, these doors are not just a part of life, they are doors TO life. Especially at the time of the painting festival, with all the wine and food cooked for the visitors.