Art in Lobbies | Elisa Bertaglia: Hic Sunt Dracones

The Yard: Columbus Circle

33 W 60th Street, New York NY

September 16, 2021  – January 15, 2022

Opening reception: September 16, 2021 between 5:30 – 7:30 PM

We are pleased to announce Hic Sunt Dracones, a solo exhibition by Italian artist Elisa Bertaglia. Part of the Art in Lobbies program, the exhibition  is Bertaglia’s first solo show in New York. Bertaglia’s work in Hic Sunt Dracones is the result of an intense process of research and exploration, cultivated by her travels and absorption into Eastern art and culture. Her recent paintings and drawings in this show feature concepts such as the threshold (soglia), etherea, cartography, the unknown, and imagined realities. Hic Sunt Dracones will run between September 16, 2021  – January 15, 2022 at The Yard: Columbus Circle’s three floors. A comprehensive catalog of Bertaglia’s works, published by SARAHCROWN, is also available for the exhibition. 

The threshold has had an ongoing significance for Bertaglia’s work, elaborating over time and research. Her 2019 series “Singing over the Bones” tackled themes of  rebirth, metamorphosis, transformation, and the duality of life/death, eventually refining her concept of the threshold. Bertaglia defines threshold as being “not a defined moment but a space of metamorphosis.” Most of her paintings are based on this idea.

The exhibition takes its name from the unknown territories in ancient cartography, which were labelled by mapmakers “hic sunt dracones,” Latin for “here there be dragons” according to urban legend. In medieval times, illustrations of dragons, sea monsters, and other mythological creatures on uncharted areas of maps where potential dangers were thought to exist. Indeed, those adventurers imagined the uttermost beings, worse than those of the furthest thresholds explored on our planet Earth. 

In visual terms, Bertaglia’s work is simultaneously bold and restrained. The painted areas, large circular spots, are made with colorful and often translucent paint in the style of Asian ink painting. The large brushstrokes are clearly visible, expertly applied with a repetitive rhythm, defining the energy of the entire canvas. The dense polychrome fields look like celestial explosions. Colors burst and merge indefinitely, without precise representations, yet they form a landscape so deep and warm that the viewer is drawn to it.

With Hic Sunt Dracones, Bertaglia recognizes her definition of the threshold par excellence. The painting series of the same title, featuring dragons, indeed represents the spatial and temporal complexity through the overlapping of several layers that contain details but never the entire figure. The circular shapes allude to the Tao and the idea of time as an open value—not straight or consequential but multiple. 

Like the ancient explorers and cartographers who drew maps based on known territories and unknown imaginary worlds, Bertaglia’s works are imagined landscapes that investigate the known and the unknown, that embark on a journey, and that question and respond to the views of both the artist and the observer. The invitation to be carried away is open to everyone. Physical return is guaranteed; the imaginary one cannot be: it will be a precious experience, a treasure, that everyone will keep at heart.

The opening reception will take place on September 16, 2021. RSVP is required to attend.  Please use this link to register. Visits will be available during visiting hours and by appointment only. A virtual tour will be available for guests who aren’t able to visit. 

Hic Sunt Dracones catalog is available for purchase. All works of art are for sale, and the proceeds will benefit the artist. For more information, please contact: / +1 (347) 393–4911 /


Elisa Bertaglia is an Italian painter living and working in Rovigo, Milan, and New York, NY. She received her MFA in Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. The same year, Bertaglia was selected for the Bevilacqua La Masa Prize in Venice. In 2011, she exhibited in the 54th Venice Biennale. Bertaglia was selected for artist residencies in spaces such as MANA Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ in 2016 and, recently, Kunstraum LLC in Brooklyn, NY for 2021. Her works are in permanent collections worldwide, including the Eileen S. Kamisky Family Foundation and Museum of Contemporary Art, Penne, Italy. 

Bertaglia was awarded the Arte Laguna Prize, Arsenale, Venice. Her work has been exhibited in important galleries, museums and institutions both in Italy and abroad, including the Guggenheim Museum, Venice, Italy; Borges Cultural Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina; MANA Contemporary, Jersey City, NJ; the Sunny Art Center, London, UK; The Yard, New York, NY; San Peter am Perlach, Augsburg, Germany; and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Saitama, Japan. 

SARAHCROWN is an international art consulting and management firm offering professional services in art advisory, art project management, creative placemaking, and business development. The firm aims to spread knowledge of art and culture throughout society, to sustain artistic production, and to emphasize the importance of art for cross-cultural understanding. Clients represent public and private art institutions, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, corporations, private collections, and galleries both in New York and Europe.

SARAHCROWN is an active member of 1% For The Planet, a global network of businesses, nonprofits, and individuals working together for a healthy planet.