2 girls 1 cup

Let’s attempt doing an experiment: try to quickly leaf through a catalogue of Serena Riglietti and spend a few seconds gazing at each drawing. Our thoughts easily start returning back to the time when cartoons were home-made animations collected together and bond in book form.

Remember the small drawings filling each page with outlined figures often set in profile, each one similar to the other except for somes light change. Then, with the simple twist of the thumb and forefinger, the pages were made to rapidly flip, one after the other. Suddenly, a world populated by humans, dogs, buildings, and everything else imaginable, all came to life and assumed their own personal identity, ready to spring forth from the page at any moment.

Serena's illustrations succeed in communicating the same sense of wonder and magic. An underlying rhythm runs through her illustrations, serving to unify them all. What becomes gradually apparent is that throughout these pages, an imaginary gust of wind is present and gains momentum, eventually becoming the main protagonist featured in the entire story.

ln fact, the wind is dramatically evident in these illustrations, sometimes in the form of a mere breeze but more often it is sensed as a violent swirl giving definition to the whole grammatical composition. Tree tops bend, objects come a live and the figures are surprised at findingt that they must struggle in order to free themselves from the void at the eye of the tornado or relinquish all resistance to the increasingly engulfing spiral movement.


Quando penso a Serena Riglietti, il suo primo disegno che mi viene in mente raffigura un gigante che, come in certe iconografie tedesche di San Cristoforo, porta un bambino in spalla. Entrambi i personaggi sono lieti, solari; i colori del paesaggio che occupano sono l’ocra e il ruggine chiaro, colori tenui, caldi, a metà tra la nursery e gli affreschi sbiaditi dal sole. L’immagine, come sempre o spesso avviene nelle opere di Serena, appartiene a una terra di mezzo tra il mito e la fiaba: dell’uno possiede il senso archetipico, la classicità delle figure, la solennità dell’azione; dall’altra invece riceve l’atmosfera sognante, la giocosità infantile, il senso di meraviglia e di stupore che sembra investire i suoi personaggi e da loro trasmettersi a chi guarda.


Lors nous jecta sus le tillac plenes mains de parolles gelées, et sembloient dragée, perlée de diverses couleurs. Nous y veismes des motz de gueule, des motz de sinople, des motz de azur, des motz de sable, des motz doréz.

François Rabelais,

"Gargantua e Pantagruele"

The “frozen words” that Pantagruele threw off the ship before they had melted and allowed barbarian voices arriving from a distant past to be heard, are seen as images: they are the visual translation of sound and language incomprehensible to the ear but perceivable and interpretable by sight. The “frozen words” are the offsprings of pictograms, the means of communication which anticipated the written word, composed of stylized designs combined in a way as to afford a visual support to facilitate comprehension. The visual perception of words through images is one of the central crux affronted by the language of illustrations. In her book The History of Italian Illustration, Paola Pallottino demonstrates how, during the course of the 20th century, the relationship between word and image had undergone a profound transformation. The art of illustration would become increasingly freed from its function as purely explanatory or decorative to be inserted within a more complex dimension, concerning the interpretation of the text. It can become an invention running parallel, especially in the field of narration, thanks to the capacity of the illustrator to extract the profound meaning found in the work.


When J . K. Rowling saw the dust cover of the ltalian edition of the first volume of her boy magician's saga, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in 1998, she asked why Harry was shown wearing such strange head gear, a hat in the shape of the head of a mouse, no hint of which had been suggested in the novel.

The answer she received was that the illustrator often created her characterisation like that, with "strange hats sitting on their heads".


Serena Riglietti stands isolated and in the shadows of the growing circle of contemporary italian illustrators but, after viewing only a few of her creations we gain an insight to better understand her personal style and production.

Close observation of two illustrations don for recent publication, the first taken from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” by J. K. Rowling and the other from “Don't touch the Doll House!” by Beatrice Masini, reveals an undeniable sense of poetry.

Serena 's intention is not to merely illustrate a scene, but to create and generate images which achieve the status of an icon.