The Private Viewing Room
A limited access forum to view forthcoming exhibitions and works of art





Italian Journey


Born in Faedis near Trieste, the son of an architect and winemaker, Francesco Poiana attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and then the celebrated Albicocca fine art printing workshop in Udine before studying for a Masters degree at St Martin’s College of Art in London. The paper he uses is made from the mulberry paper trees and has a shadowy, translucence perfectly suited to the ghostly imagery of his works. ‘If you layer one sheet of paper on top of others they can look like a skin, soft and translucent and sensitive,’ he says.

Since 2016 we have supported an annual emerging talent programme that champions artists at the beginning of their career. Our emerging talents programme has seen four years of burgeoning talent grow into established creative strength with Messums and elsewhere. This is Francesco’s second year in our programme.

Francesco’s diaphanous and dream-like watercolours of Italy are like memories; both contemporary and rooted in history. Working during the spring and summer 2020 in the Italian countryside Francesco’s en plein air paintings are spontaneous notes on the landscape that speak to things of the past as well as something of our contemporary concerns.

During the spring and summer of 2020 Francesco travelled back to Italy to record his time there, capturing the light and the passing days of lockdown, these notes on the landscape are en plein air diary entries of an immutable countryside during a very particular time.

Drawing on the paintings of Jean-François Millet, these studies on the landscape and the people who inhabit it refer back to Francesco’s own roots. They look at the narratives of people within these rural enclaves, the elemental nature of the enduring landscape and Francesco’s own life within it.

I landed in Venice at the beginning of May. The airport was a desert. Only a few passengers and some soldier standing at the gate. I started to draw from the first day of my Italian quarantine. The village on the hill side where I live was silent and full of sunlight, not many viruses case up there just an echo of fear.