"They say that the perfect botanical illustrator should hold a detached attitude to the subject that he or she is about to paint. Whether the subject in front of them is a very precious rose or a very humble daisy, they have to behave with equal precision: observe the stem, study the shape of the leaves, reproduce the petals with absolute care, notice if the reproduction organs are visible to the naked eye , or get an illustration section of the plant in question, so as to really understand what is what.
And yet , Marina Virdis is an excellent botanical illustrator, really keen, so involved as to always choose a different theme out of curiosity and interest: from the spontaneous flowering plants of the Sinis peninsula, in Sardinia, to roses. But only Old Roses, painted in afriends nursery near Florence, to render on paper that particular beauty which every single rose manages to transmit to those who look at it.
They say that it is easier for a botanist to study a plant if he or she can consult a black and white representation: less interference from the painter, fewer interpretations of his or her taste, less mawkishness in the face of this or that nuance, that are not necessary for the identification of a flower. And yet, Marina Virdis, who applies the watercolour tecnique to her latest passion, roses, does not forget, not even by mistake, a single botanical detail in her strokes of pink, yellow, dull green, strong, green, vivid red.
They say that the perfect illustrator is one who interpretes faithfully: neither more no less than a great portrait painter who, when has a subject in front of him, either man or woman, even if he or she- well and close at hand, has to give the right light to their look, to underline the importance of a feature line rather the skin colour that , everyone knows, betrays the hearts emotions more than anything else.
Imagine therefore our botanical illustrator- painter- watercoulourist-who season after season follows the work in the Florentine nursery: she sees them digging the soil, earthing-up round the neck of young rose bushes, observing the tenter buds courted by greedy insects then, finally, the opening of the leaves, their change of colour, the forming of the flower-buds and finally the flower with all its petals, its colour, its perfume.
There is a moment in which each rose has a green beauty that you look at with embarassment , the same one with which adults observe teen-agers who do not yet realize their beauty.
Then there is a moment in which splendour is conscious, tendered, delighted in, shared, partecipated.
After long observation Marina Virdis chooses to depict a rose in a precise moment, with that colour, those dimensions, in that particular position. A brush stroke, and only that, first faint and light then well dipped into the colour and the rose portrait comes into being. Alba, Gallicas, Damask and yet others, Chinensis,Tea roses, Bourbon and lots more: all the history of a deeply loved flower told us in these brilliant, refined, light watercolours.
Nothing very new: for centuries flowers have finished up on paper,on canvas, on wood, on copper, on glass, on china, on cloth, on marble, on plaster. In techiniques which could be considered more or less impressionistic, more or less symbolic, more or less realistic. But do not think that all these painters and illustrators are the ones that really portrayed flower and nature in the history of botanical painting. Some have succeeded, others have been forgotten and lost.
Marina Virdis with her Old Roses watercolours gives us emotions that will neither be lost nor forgotten."
Journalist of La Repubblica newspaper , expert of Art and Gardens
Quoted from The Rose Gardens, solo-exhibion catalogue.1997