I studied architecture and art history in Maine for years, but ended up leaving America and the academic world behind me and becoming an art collector and gallerist in Italy. I exhibit paintings in my home, which is also the seat of a cultural association, Reading Retreats in Rural Italy. There are now over 250 artworks from 15 artists on the walls.

The association has been based in several historic properties since 1996, and recently moved to an antique pump house along the Mincio River, near Mantua. Each room in our new home is dedicated to a different artist, and Maria Gorton’s room is one of my favourites.

Maria’s work is more contemporary looking than other paintings I collect, and so I wanted to keep the room as essential as possible. There is an upright piano, a fireplace, and over 1000 art books in Maria’s room, so it does feel like a home rather than a gallery, but I try to keep the space as silent and simple as possible, so the paintings have the opportunity to speak to those who enter. And what do they say? Well, they are quite mysterious, so one thing is for sure – they don’t shout, they whisper. They are abstract empty rooms with a warm gold glow as the back wall.

They are dark mountain and water landscapes. I always think deep lake, rather than sea, but this is my personal take on them. In her landscapes, again, there is a glow, but this time it is a cool light, the moon reflecting on water. They are visual representations of infinity, of nothingness. Not easy to write about!

I’m very old fashioned, and while I sometimes enjoy a pavillion in the Venice biennale or a good contemporary show in galleries in New York or London, I prefer art that is increasingly less popular these days: good painting from people who know how to apply oil paint to the canvas. Maria is such a painter. She is meticulous.

I like when paintings not only ask questions, but give an answer or at least a clue. These paintings are emotive, but the emotion is somehow inexplicable, and there is an idea: to represent the void, but that, too, is not easy to describe. The most important thing about them is their feeling of depth.

They allow you to look inside them for as long as you want. Even though I live with them every day, I find it impossible to walk by them without being drawn in.

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