by Cleto Eleuterio Battista

In ancient Greece man was represented nude in order to affirm the ideal exemplarity in contrast with accidental world of contingencies, so that the superior and abstract dimension of the absolute emerged, above what could be relative and limited. The exaltation of the “atletes” corresponded to the necessity to exalt the athletic contest and strength of man, added to the desire to transpose oneself to the superior level of divinity, due to the ability to go beyond the limits imposed on the human condition. If in moments of crisis the figures became more relaxed and sensual, it did not happen to the total detriment of this dimension which tended to reach the heroic and above-human. Nudity as a synonym of perfection, with no blemish, as absence of the tragic, in the limit of artistic representation. The Greek man is naked, the native paints himself to distinguish himself, to emerge within an environment which obliterates him. He paints, tattoos or incises his body as he would plough a field or fence in a property: a somatic map is opposed to the earthly one; furrows, stripes, circles and symbols make the desire to appear, in today youth, manifest. It embodies the fear of disappearing in the crowd, it is the research for group identity, the will to live in ritual and tradition with others.
Olga reproposes the nude in its entirety, the male nude taken from whatever mapping or idealization, on the contrary it is almost represented in its vulnerability – as vulnerable as present day males are, whose vanity does not hide the need for closure and introspection. Bold postures, piercing looks only hide uncertainty. Huge female eyes look deeply and desire, gigantic mouths shut in the presence of the desired object. The male is portrayed in front of  the female as a Lilliputian, as a small animal in a cage, observed and coveted in his nudity, that is to say defenceless. There is something anguishing even in the colours, red green blue, without iridescences, shadings or particular vibrations. At times there are deep shadows which recall interiors, closed and limited spaces, fixed and blocked levels. Even the young men close themselves, as the position of their arms demonstrated. The bodies curl up by an instinct of defence. Some seem stiff, by some others swing ropes, hinting at future ties and limitations: man prisoner of woman. Truthfully woman is hardly present but the distance from her can be perceived in the air, while the helplessness of the young man is ever more clear.
All the portrayed bodies are young. Youth represents beauty, the centre of the maturity of the body, far from the unripe sensuality of the adolescent as well as from the hardness of mature man, inscribed within the perimeter of social and family duties, and yet far from the waste of elderly man. Even though the forms are well defined, the bodies seem to decompose, sometimes due to the colour that breaks up with clear hints to an ancient sensuality, a Hellenistic or Alexandrine one, hints at a time in which Eros was above all carnality and substance, while feelings receded. But this sensuality in Olga’s work is permeated by a mysterious melancholy, maybe the consciousness of a defeat or of an unhappy condition. These young men do not act, they are almost always portrayed in a static posture, like new Eroses with wings, according to an ancient iconography updated by the Greek artist Tsaurouchis, he too a master in grasping the beauty of the male body. But they are pensive Eroses, closed within their own thoughts, prostrated figures in which energy implodes and dies down. Immobility, at times, reveals itself totally. And space becomes bright, as would be on a canvas in the style of Caravaggio, through precise references to a seventeenth century figurative culture when opposing sensations seemed to add up and clash in the representation: sensuality and memento mori, realism and idealism. A baroque element is constituted by the drapery which, now and then, accompanies the body portrayed, an element of separation or of hiding. The scene becomes deserted, dominated by the male, of which more than the body Olga seems to grasp the attitude, the look, the thoughts. The natural elements are eliminated, excluded, to symbolize the affirmed artificiality of present human life. The main characters are the body with its charge of sensuality and the psyche with its anguishes, tensions and fears – it is no coincidence that the figures are doubled. None of the portrayed smile or rejoice, they touch and feel their bodies alone with narcissistic sensuality or for protection, or glances outwardly in the search for happiness or salvation, or proudly direct the glance against the observer, but without winking and with a coldness which recalls the gelid looks in the style of Manet, closing themselves up in an inscrutable dumbness, defending themselves from the investigation of external eyes. Aggressiveness, closure and sensuality are mixed and are measured by the limit of the form, by the explanation of gesture, by the direction of the glance up to the point when it subsides.
Far from recent research which debate the problem of a new body artificially extended, thanks to new technologies, jeopardized ever more by aesthetic surgery, Olga, on the contrary, attempts to repropose the naturalness of the human body, opposed to the cold, inanimate and artificial environment which surrounds it, revealing faith in a world and in a society in which man remains central, even with the tensions between the sexes and within the very human psyche.
The body presents itself in all its solid consistency above all in the oils, it clearly affirms the spaces, it emerges from the cold and still background. Movement is almost absent: here and there only a gentle breeze moves the draperies and the ropes (is it an air of freedom from the outer world or a vital presence in a dead space?). The strong contrast between the warm and cold colours – usually red and green – accentuates the mute tragedy which happens on the scene. And the catharsis of this tragedy seems to be nonexistent, because the sense of solitude and defeat remains and becomes stronger, by no means diminished by the presence of sensual attraction.