Anna Pinzari and Chantal Corso have a delightful gallery of paintings from 2008 depicting butterfly wings at such a close range that they become abstract arrangements of colored rectangles. Butterfly and moth wings are covered with tiny scales that give them added lift, and help disentangle them from spider webs. Butterfly wing scales are natural pixels of both pigmented and structural color. They reflect and refract light, and it is this effect that the two Italian artists have used so effectively, focusing their skills on capturing the story the scales themselves tell.
The collection is entitled Tutto E’ In Tutto, (Everything In All). Their site has a quote from Anaxagoras, a greek philosopher from 428 B.C. who posited, in opposition to later atomistic theory, that matter was infinitely divisible, and that
Together were all things, infinite both in quantity and smallness – for the small too was infinite. And when all things were together, none was patent by reason of smallness; for air and ether covered all things, being both infinite – for in all things these are the greatest both in quantity and size.
To Anaxagoras there was no end to the detail, “For the small there is no smallest, but there is always a smaller.” Likewise with the natural world, the closer we focus our lens, more wondrous things come into focus, revealing a world far more complex than we supposed.
Interestingly, the above image came to me courtesy of a friend who was traveling in Italy, and happened to get the name of the artists. In choosing to seek out more information about their work, I discover not just beautiful insects, but a philosophy of the infinite in the small.