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Portrait Elisabetta Rogai


Have you ever thought it possible paintings could grow old? We would like to introduce you Tuscan's artist Elisabetta Rogai, the inventor of 'EnoArt', a painting technique which uses wine instead of more traditional colour pigments, allowing paintings to literally age over time. The EnoArt project started in the autumn of 2010 in Florence, Italy, when Italian painter, Elisabetta, randomly discovered a way she could paint using red wine to create her beautiful work.


"When people initially look at my paintings they think it is simply a matter of using bottled wine instead of colour, but as I explain they understand a painting done like that would not last more than a few weeks.
"The process is much more complicated. I do not use bottled wine, as after a short time it would evaporate and eventually fade totally. At the beginning, I tried to boil the wine for an extended period, as has been done for centuries, but with little to no success," Elisabetta noted.
"I now concentrate the cold wine and reduce it to a tenth of its normal volume. I prefer using boiled wine for backgrounds, and concentrated wine for more colourful areas. Of course, it is a 100 per cent natural process. As I often say, wine has always existed. It would be foolish to think of being the first, or the only one, to have ever used it this way. But I think I have found a technique which eliminates many obstacles – several technical difficulties related to wine density, alcohol volatility, limitations of chromatic scale, and the restrictions of working only on a small canvas."


Each of Rogai's paintings 'ages' and grows old, as in Oscar Wilde's The portrait of Dorian Gray, reproducing on canvas exactly the same process which normally takes place inside bottles. As time flows by, her works age just like bottled wine would, evolving on the canvas from typically juvenile colours (purples and shiny reds), to more mature tones (orange, amber, and brown). Such ageing, which in a bottle normally occurs over a number years, only takes a few months in the paintings.
"I still remember my first wine-made painting. I looked for something which could transmit joy and euphoria, but I could not ever imagine what wine would reveal. After a couple of weeks colours began changing. I was quite disappointed, because I thought I'd made mistakes, but a few minutes later I understood what was really happening. And I realised what could be achieved."


Since then, Elisabetta has completed more than 80 paintings and displayed them in Italy (Tuscany, Veneto, Lombardia, and Lazio) and abroad (USA, Hong Kong, China, and Greece), both at wine and artistic occasions.
In Los Angeles, she was invited as a special guest at 'VivaVinoLA', a week-long celebration dedicated to Italian wines. She also performed a live show at the Italian Institute of Culture in front of the father of Italian restaurants in LA, Pietro Selvaggio, who said: "Every high-level restaurant should have a wine painting of Elisabetta Rogai at their walls."
"When I paint using wine in my studio, it feels as if I am in a wine cellar. At the beginning, I used cheap retail store wine. Then I discovered that each variety has a different concentration of colour, depending on the substances present in the grapes. So, I started selecting specific Italian wines - Nero d'Avola from Sicily, Montepulciano or other typical Tuscan wines such as Colorino.

"Producers now bring their wine to me and ask for a portrait made with their own wine. For the producer, this is a status symbol, and they are proud. My paintings are sought after by those who live in the world of wine – producers, enthusiasts, restaurateurs, and consortia, and also by 'normal' art lovers and collectors. I feel this is because my paintings can be placed both in homes and in cellars".
Almost all Rogai's wine made paintings are on 70×100 cm canvas and the charcoal used to first sketch the outlines is taken from burnt vines. Her early paintings were portraits of young women going about their daily life as well as portraits.
In recent years, she has started painting fauna with strong symbolic connotation – horses, and birds of prey, and landscapes, to complete the spectrum of her artistic attentions. But the experimentation continues. In the last two years, Elisabetta has developed a technique that allows her to paint with wine using not only canvas but also onto slabs of white marble.
Over the last seven years, news of Elisabetta's artistic achievements has been featured in newspapers and websites around the world more than 1,500 times, including in The Times and Daily Mail in London, Washington Post and the Huffington Post in the USA, South China Morning Post, and Bangalore Mirror.
These days, Elisabetta is more likely to be found doing exhibitions and live performances, where she paints while people ask her about her art and drink the same wine she is using. At the end, they can come close to her paintings and smell the wine's scent.

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