Francesco Poiana

Recent Work


18 August – 10 September

ONLINE TALK & TOUR: with Francesco Poiana and Johnny Messum, Wednesday 18 August, 6pm, free event bookings


Francesco Poiana’s diaphanous and dream-like renditions of Italy are like memories, both contemporary and rooted in history. Working en plein air in the Italian landscape, these recent paintings are spontaneous, visual notes that speak to the past as well as something of our contemporary concerns.

Poiana was born at the foothills of the Alps thirty years ago; the son of a winegrower and architect he attended art school in Rome before conducting a Grand Tour in reverse, coming to London – to Central St Martins – to study Fine Art and thereafter the Royal Drawing School. He is one of the most fluid handlers of paint. Something that we hope for in any painter and in Francesco it feels like a given talent. The marks, thin and from the wrist contain within them so much information about what inspires them and also the sense of both person and place.

The paintings on show here were painted over the course of this summer when Poiana returned to Italy to capture the landscape of his home in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

The artist is as comfortable in the past as in the present; his works are both classical – growing up as he did in landscapes of the sort painted by Lorrain and Poussin – but also contemporary. ‘I’ve always used art as a way to understand and at the same time hide from the world,’ he says. ‘This series of works are a reflection on the daily, on the dirt roads, an invitation to an intimate voyage towards the intangible image of a golden elsewhere; the country, the sea and the vineyards, where nothing happens and everything speaks about an era made of light.’

He adds: ‘In an increasingly, confusing and complicated world, there is a level of mystery I can’t explain in words. That mystery is what intrigues me and triggers my commitment to being in the studio day after day. In this new series of artworks, I’ve noticed that there are symbols emerging from experiences filtered by the memory and a new intensity of colour and saturation as well as a sense of a material land that seems to have been forged by light and colour.’

Lockdown has pushed Poiana to take his work in directions he has not explored much before; from working primarily with printmaking and painting on paper to layering paint onto canvas and gessoed board. ‘Using drawings I made in the landscape, and using memories, I form what is almost a collage in my mind which I piece together in the studio,’ he says. ‘Lockdown has been good in some ways as I have had time to reflect on my practice and I am painting these new works to a level of detail and finish that I haven’t done before even though I always like to keep some parts of each of my pictures less defined than other bits to give people a chance to imagine something of their own; their own reality.’

Inspired by the crepuscular tone of Symbolist painters like Edvard Munch and the fluid lines of Honoré Daumier, Poiana has an innate flair for making art with the smallest gestures.  His method is neither assertive nor submerged and like Luc Tuymans or Peter Doig his pictures have a stillness and opacity to them that hints at a narrative but keeps it hidden.

In these recent works, it is the paint itself that is alive, and every work has a sense of imparting energy, psychology and potency – regardless of its subject.



Making Introductions

‘Making Introductions’ is a series of five films produced in partnership with our artists and focuses on the techniques that stand at the core of their respective studio processes. All of these short classes can be followed at home.  In one fifteen-minute video we hope you will learn a little about one of our artists and a lot about their process.

Every masterpiece starts with a sketch, every journey with a step. It is often forgotten that art is as much a language as speaking. “Making Introductions” is about learning these different ways of communicating and being able to take part in the conversation.



Emerging Talents Programme

The Emerging Talents programme offers a way into collecting that starts with the work of younger artists whose talent in terms of making and originality in narrative are timeless markers and suggestive of things to come.

The programme champions a new generation of artists who exemplify the quality that runs the more senior programming at Messums. Since opening in 2016 we have introduced an array of burgeoning talent to collectors and seen these artists grow in confidence and recognition.