Vertigo - Last Judgement by Marison Ray

January 15, 2023

In ‘78 she met Giugiaro who introduced her to painting. Since then, a succession of visionary canvases led to the revisitation of Michelangelo’s work at the Sistine Chapel.

Marison Ray studied graphics and design and was hired by Giorgetto Giugiaro in 1978. But another world opened up for her later, that of painting.
In particular, trips to Japan and Spain aroused emotions in her that she poured onto canvas, where the chromatic balance (a memory of those early studies) was combined with her personal artistic culture and compositional stimuli in perpetual evolution. In this context, her love for abstract expressionists and for some protagonists of the first decades of the 20th century (in particular Man Ray, from whom she took her name), van Gogh and finally the encounter with the masters of our Renaissance. In such a climate, Vertigine, a revisitation of Michelangelo’s Last Judgement re-proposed in its original dimensions, matured. 


How so? Alessandro Vezzosi wrote in the catalogue of the exhibition at the Accademia delle arti del disegno in Florence last spring dedicated to this composition: “Marison Ray intended to appropriate it to create her own Last Judgement and create in the present, with passion and feeling, the fury of her own visionary and emblematic conception...”. And which offers an interesting reading of our time, as Cristina Acidini, president of the aforementioned Accademia, stresses: ‘The unmistakable dynamism of the brushstrokes (...) does not bend to the imitation of Michelangelo’s style but makes use of the pictorial heritage of 19th and 20th century, from Van Gogh to Futurism and beyond’. Andrea Granchi, president of the painting class, adds: “This new interpretation or ‘reinterpretation’ (...) is not presented as a ‘quiet quotation’ (...) but as a polluted, crowded, dramatic vision, a sort of paraphrase of today’s world...”. To symbolise the traumatic crises that accompany us, Marison painted her own severed head with closed eyes, which replaces that of Michelangelo  held by St Bartholomew in the original. We thus also encounter Gandhi and Mother Teresa of Calcutta among many others.


Why, we ask again, this marked change in expression compared to the works presented in 2021 in Milan? She simply felt the needto pursue a different figurative expressionism. In fact, the Stelline Foundation had exhibited the paintings of the last few years where, Vezzosi’s words again, “the artist composes musicality,  counterpoints and harmony,
rhythms of breath as a vital breath, and colours that ‘embrace’ in the flow of the expressive and symbolic dominance that Marison prefers: the red of fire and blood;
China blue and India yellow, between sky-sea and earth- sunlight; white introduces notes of purity and contrast”. And where the ‘figure’ or its evocation springs from the soul of the person promoting it. This is true for the magmatic yellow green of 2018’s  Impression and Expression, it is true for the sprawling torment of 2017’s Spiral energies, it is true for the disturbing gaze that emerges from 2016’s Twilight Yellow Bull Fighting.
In short, with such practices, Marison Ray wants to deliver an art that, when it expresses the impulses or travails of existence onto canvas has no need of rigorous ‘isms’ of reference but can rely above all on the sincerity inherent in personal creation.


Marison Ray, born in Aosta, studies graphic and design at Duchessa Jolanda Institute in Turin. In 1978 she joins Italdesign, the Giorgetto Giugiaro’s company, as an interior designer. During the academic years she studies and embraces different cultures, such as the Japanese one that she immediately falls in love with.
She has the chance to closely study this culture due to her role as head of the Giugiaro Man clothing line which is produced in Japan.
From 1995 her professional experiences at other leading companies bring her to travel and she moves in Aix-en-Provence. Then, in 2004 she finally returns in Turin, where she attends the Ezio Gribaudo’s studio. In 2006 she debuts in Venice with a solo exhibition at Schola dei Tiraoro e Battioro; other exhibitions follow, as “The Naked Boy” in Turin, with a four-hand painting realized with Gribaudo. In June 2021, she has a solo exhibition  at Fondazione Stelline di Milano, curated by Alessandro Vezzosi, entitled “Respiro del colore” where she showcases 15 big canvas and many preparatory studies. Last April, she presents a show, once more curated by Vezzosi, at Sala dell’Accademia delle arti del disegno di Firenze, where she showcases a big artwork Vertigine (mt. 7,60 x 7) specifically conceived for that space and inspired by the Michelangelo’s Giudizio Universale.

All exhibition projects are promoted and directed by Claudio Guida. Cristina Acidini, Pier Carla Delpiano, Andrea Granchi wrote about her.

The Author

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Was born in Genoa and lives in Pegli with a view to the mountains and the sea, a contrast that inspires him. He’s been dealing with contemporary art for more than forty years and he had the privilege of spending time with important artists like Enrico Baj, Arnaldo Pomodoro and Fernando Botero, just to name a few, trying to look into the intimate motivation of their creative gesture, in order to pour it in the written presentations about private and public exhibitions in Italy and over the world. He says he was lucky to meet the director who’s been welcoming and publishing his articles for a number of years now.

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