Antonella Ravagli and Alfredo Gioventu’ – Verba Manent

June 11 – July 3, 2011
Sestri Levante – Italy

The exhibition explores the relationship between ceramics and the world of written signs, that the two artists have been analyzing thru their works.

Antonella Ravagli, a ceramic artist from Faenza, has been using many kind of signs in her works, abstract forms of meaning that she paints, engraves, prints or shapes into clay.

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Rosanna Minuto – Apology of the horn

June 12 – July 29, 2011
Montefalco, Italy

The subtitle of this exhibition is “From the faun up till now” and the key character is the Corno, the most popular Italian amulet.

There’s much irony in Rosanna Minuto’s works. They subtly play with one of our oldest beliefs that has been often scorned and snubbed, yet, miraculously, has survived pretty much intact up to the present time.

The Corno, our in(famous) lucky charm, is a gently twisted horn-shaped amulet that is worn as a protection against evil eye. It’s of ancient origins. About 3500 years b.C. it was hanged outside the huts as a symbol of fertility.

In Egypt the horns were offered to the goddess Isis who was the ideal mother and wife as well as the matron of nature and magic. Jupiter gave a magic horn to his wet nurse as a thank you gift.

During the Middle Ages the horn worked as a lucky charm only if red and hand made because red was the symbol of the victory over the enemies and its luck came from the very hands that made it.

From then on the horn have kept evil away from their owners and they still do an excellent job!

Apologia del Cornuto
Bontadosi ArtGallery
Piazza del Comune 19, Montefalco (Perugia)
Ph: +39 0742 379357

Caltagirone – Lee Babel and Alessio Tasca

Apr. 20 – July 30, 2011
Caltagirone, Italy

This exhibition is special in many ways. First. Tasca and Babel are internationally reputed artists, who are constantly adding new meanings to contemporary ceramic art.

Second. It’s hosted in a very cool place. The building that is now the Museum “Fornace Hoffmann” was a former brick plant, where huge kilns baked the clay that was dug in the nearby mines, changing it into building bricks and tiles. The plant closed in the Seventies and it has been recently converted into a modern and spacious exhibition center.

Last, but not at all least, the exhibition puts together two pottery making traditions, Caltagirone and Nove, both representing a landmark in the history of Italian ceramic art.

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Gubbio – Brocche d’Autore 2011

May 12 – June 2, 2011
Gubbio, Italy

Every year, on May 15th, Gubbio honors its Patron Saint, Sant’Ubaldo, with the spectacular “Corsa dei Ceri” or Race of the Saints.

Since 2002, the city celebrates the event with the exhibition “Brocche d’Autore”, that highlights the strong relationship existing among the Race of the Saints with its traditional ceramic pitchers called Brocche dei Ceri, Gubbio pottery and contemporary ceramic art.

This is how it works: every year the Cultural Association “Maggio Eugubino” selects three artists, one of them from Gubbio, and invites them to create their Brocche. The artists, informed about the traditional function and symbolic value of the artifacts, are free to re-interpret them. Their Brocche are displayed during the celebrations for Sant’Ubaldo.

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Ferdinando Vassallo – Fornaci Chiaroscuro and International Artists

May 20 – Sept. 25, 2011
Ogliara, Italy

Not many info are available on this exhibition, but we decided to mention it even though we can only provide the top lines. Indeed, Ferdinando Vassallo is a very interesting ceramic artist who explores the realm of experimentalism with surprising results and we were very keen on spending a few words on his work.

The majolicas featured in this exhibition have been designed by Italian and International artists – among them Bernard Zimmer, Luigi Ontani, Michel Haindorf and Achille Perilli  – and made into actual works by Vassallo. On the last day the program includes a “Cravon Fire” show, a demonstration of a fast firing technique invented by the artist.

Ferdinando Vassallo was born and still lives near Salerno, not far from Vietri sul mare, an area where pottery making is not only heritage but a part of life.

He was born in 1952 and he was only 18 years old when he built his first kiln “Ottomattoni”, made of 8 bricks and a small gas burner. It worked amazingly well and it filled the artist with an astonished surprise that were to fuel his enthusiasm for pottery making for the rest of his life…

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Montelupo Museum of Ceramics – Spring Program

The Museum of Ceramics is offering Italian ceramics lovers the chance to learn more about Montelupo pottery through a number of guided visits.

On April 10th, in the morning, an experienced guide will introduce visitors to the Museum’s collection of apothecary jars and other objects made for old pharmacies.

Montelupo apothecary pottery was an important element in the proliferation of pharmacies in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany during the Renaissance. Placed in the monasteries’ infirmaries at first, then popular as private businesses, the pharmacies flourished also thanks to the availability of safe storage vessels for the herbs.

Ceramic was an excellent material because it can hold and preserve both liquids and dried herbs and it’s easy to clean. The apothecary jars and vases from Montelupo had an additional benefit: they impressed the customers with their beauty and perfectly fit the monumental style of the rooms that were open to the public.

Soon after the visit to the Musem, the visitors will go to Florence to visit one of the oldest pharmacies in the world: Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella. Established by the Dominican fathers shortly after 1221, the pharmacy was meant to prepare and store medications, balms and creams for the monastery’s little infirmary. In 1612 the Dominicans were granted permission to open their little store to the public. Visiting the Farmacia is per se a great opportunity. Even more so, if the focus is on its awesome collection of antique apothecary pottery.

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Meeting Italian ceramic artists: Antonella Cimatti

Our relationship with Antonella Cimatti was based on coincidences. Last year Manuela and I noticed one of her paperclay works, a crespina on a tall glass stem, on a design magazine and took a mental note of the name of the artist.

On a one day trip to Faenza during the Summer I tried to contact Antonella but she was out of town… Almost accidentally, however, I visited a temporary exhibition at the Mic where I was fascinated by her ceramic and light installation.

In November we went to visit a ceramic art exhibition at the Ab Ovo Gallery in Todi and we saw (and touched, with the permission of the Gallery owner…) two of her crespine.
A couple of weeks later Antonella sent us an email to establish a contact with us. The circle was closed!

Antonella Cimatti’s artistic path is extremely rich. Born in Faenza, where she still lives, she studied with Carlo Zauli, one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Since her graduation in Fine Arts in Bologna, she has been constantly experimenting new techniques and mediums, with a keen interest in design.

We interviewed her a few days ago.

TIPJ: Antonella, reading your CV, Manuela and I were very much impressed by the large number of  activities, studies and experiences you’ve been through. A short summary for our readers:
– internships abroad to study different techniques relating to pottery making, decoration and design;
– design projects with leading glass and ceramic companies
– participation to experimental art movements
– ceramic exhibitions, camps and contexts all over the world
Last, but not least, you have been teaching at the State Art Institute of Ceramics Ballardini since 1979. It really looks like you are “hungry” to learn and experiment. What is the drive behind your multiple activities?

A. Cimatti: I believe that a major commitment for an artist is to always keep up to date professionally. Indeed spontaneous creativity must without exception be complemented by high standards of professional competence in technique, technology and in the interpretation of contemporary art: first reading and observing, then the pleasure of testing, combining and confirming.
That’s why I’ve always been fascinated by experiments. It all started when I was a student, around ’75 and I tested the fusion of Murano glass mosaics on ceramic sheets and plates.
This is a technique that I later applied on larger ceramic panels, published by Nino Caruso in his book “Ceramic decoration”, and also on majolica during the 80’s. I made small diptychs and politychs and I decorated them with pearls and glass filaments for the exhibitions of the art group “The new ceramic” (La Nuova Ceramica), curated by Franco Solmi and Marilena Pasquali.

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Ugo La Pietra – Unity in Diversity

Mar. 17 – Nov. 20, 2011
Turin, Italy

Italy’s 150th anniversary will be celebrated in Turin with a huge art and craft workshop and showcase, titled Il Futuro nelle mani. Artieri domani (The Future in the hands. Artificers tomorrow). The curator of the exhibition, Enzo Biffi Gentili, who has already promoted significant initiatives dedicated to applied arts, intends it to be a display of all things new and original currently offered by Italy’s finest crafts.

One of the (many) initiatives in the program is “Unity in Diversity”, a project curated by Ugo La Pietra that will feature 21 head planters made by ceramic artists from Caltagirone (among them Giuseppe Branciforti, Alessandro Iudici, Nicolò Morales, Francesco Navanzino, Riccardo Varsallona). Each “head” represents one of the 20 Italian regions with its typical features and its distinctive characteristics. The last “head” is the symbol of Italy, as a unity.

The project pays a tribute to Caltagirone ceramics, to a tradition that has been alive for many centuries without losing the ability to innovate.

L’Unità nella Diversità
Officine Grandi Riparazioni
Corso Castelfidardo 22, Torino
Phone: +39 011-4992333

Lucio Fontana – Stations of the Cross 1947-1957

March 17 – April 30, 2011
Milano, Italy

Between 1947 and 1957 Lucio Fontana made three different Via Crucis – Stations of the Cross which are held to be particularly important since they give great insights into the artist’s conceptual development.

The first Via Crucis (1947), from a private collection in Parma, was made the year after the publishing of the first Manifesto of Spatialism (Primo Manifesto dello Spazialismo) where he stated that “Matter, colour and sound in motion are the phenomena whose simultaneous development makes up the new art”.

The second and the third Via Crucis were both part of charitable and socially useful projects that the artist shared with the architect Marco Zanuso. They were made between 1955 and 1957, when Fontana was feverishly experimenting, both in his sacred production and in his conceptual works: the Baroques, the Holes, the Stones, the Plasters, then his celebrated Slashes.

The side by side of the three Stations clearly show how Fontana departed from tradition to find his way towards stark conceptualism.

Lucio Fontana. Vie Crucis 1947-1957
Palazzo Lombardia
Via Galvani 27, Milano
Phone: +39 02 89420019

Giuseppe Macedonio – Ceramic Sculptor

Mar. 26 – Apr. 12, 2011

Naples, Italy

Giuseppe Macedonio’s (1906-1986) solo exhibition is about to start in Naples, in the beautiful setting of Castel Dell’Ovo.

For the very first time a large number of the artist’s works – some unpublished – have been gathered to highlight his contribution to Neapolitan ceramic art throughout the 20th century.

The focus is on his architectural pottery: furniture and decorative ceramic sculptures, large vases and many large works made for public areas and monuments.

Macedonio learnt to make pottery as a young kid, serving his apprenticeship with renowned ceramicists in Naples and Vietri sul Mare, where he worked at the ICS, the company founded by Max Melamerson. In Vietri the artist learnt most of the pottery making techniques and met the German ceramic artists who had settled in the city and were to revive its fame.

In 1938 he founded his own workshop “I due fornaciari” in Naples, together with Romolo Vetere, a fellow artists and sculptor. A most important experience for Macedonio, who focused his talents on pottery sculptures and large panels.

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