Elisa Bertaglia: Hic Sunt Dracones at The Yard Columbus Circle

Elisa Bertaglia, Hic Sunt Dracones 2021We are pleased to announce Hic Sunt Dracones, a solo exhibition by Italian artist Elisa Bertaglia. The exhibition is Bertaglia’s first solo show in New York. Bertaglia’s work in Hic Sunt Dracones is the result of an intense process of research and exploration, cultivated by her travels and absorption into Eastern art and culture. Her recent paintings and drawings in this show feature concepts such as the threshold (soglia), etherea, cartography, the unknown, and imagined realities. Hic Sunt Dracones will run between September 16, 2021 – January 15, 2022 at The Yard: Columbus Circle’s three floors. A comprehensive catalog of Bertaglia’s works, published by SARAHCROWN, is also available for the exhibition.
The threshold has had an ongoing significance for Bertaglia’s work, elaborating over time and research. Her 2019 series “Singing over the Bones” tackled themes of rebirth, metamorphosis, transformation, and the duality of life/death, eventually refining her concept of the threshold. Bertaglia defines threshold as being “not a defined moment but a space of metamorphosis.” Most of her paintings are based on this idea.
The exhibition takes its name from the unknown territories in ancient cartography, which were labelled by mapmakers “hic sunt dracones,” Latin for “here there be dragons” according to urban legend. In medieval times, illustrations of dragons, sea monsters, and other mythological creatures on uncharted areas of maps where potential dangers were thought to exist. Indeed, those adventurers imagined the uttermost beings, worse than those of the furthest thresholds explored on our planet Earth.
In visual terms, Bertaglia’s work is simultaneously bold and restrained. The painted areas, large circular spots, are made with colorful and often translucent paint in the style of Asian ink painting. The large brushstrokes are clearly visible, expertly applied with a repetitive rhythm, defining the energy of the entire canvas. The dense polychrome fields look like celestial explosions. Colors burst and merge indefinitely, without precise representations, yet they form a landscape so deep and warm that the viewer is drawn to it.
With The Dragon and I, Bertaglia recognizes her definition of the threshold par excellence. The painting series of the same title, featuring dragons, indeed represents the spatial and temporal complexity through the overlapping of several layers that contain details but never the entire figure. The circular shapes allude to the Tao and the idea of time as an open value—not straight or consequential but multiple.
Like the ancient explorers and cartographers who drew maps based on known territories and unknown imaginary worlds, Bertaglia’s works are imagined landscapes that investigate the known and the unknown, that embark on a journey, and that question and respond to the views of both the artist and the observer. The invitation to be carried away is open to everyone. Physical return is guaranteed; the imaginary one cannot be: it will be a precious experience, a treasure, that everyone will keep at heart.