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…

As a 23 year-old he was hired by Bottega d’Amore, a large pottery making factory in Vietri sul Mare, where he discovered some original drawings made by Dolker and Kowaliska, the famous artists of the “German Period”. He realized that the drawings represented the opportunity to relaunch Vietri pottery that had been languishing for lack of identity for quite a long time. The naïf designs, inspired to the works of the German artists proved immediately successful.

In 1978 he co-founded Terraviva, a pottery studio that in 2002 gave way to Fornaci Chiaroscuro, where he has since been working as Production Director.

In 1986 he designed his fist absent vase, a non-physical ceramic vase. The viewer was its actual co-maker, imagining it based on vague hints of its height, width and color. Such a unique work would for sure inhabit forever the visitor’s heart and mind!

Since 1987 he’s been exploring many firing techniques: the Free Fire, the Carton Fire, a super fast firing (30’) where the fire is made with packing materials, the Cravon Fire: 20’ to build the kiln, 30’ for a high oxidation firing, the Elios Fire, a kiln that is exclusively powered by solar energy.

He made many works in partnership with Luigi Ontani: extremely challenging projects that were impossible to make without Vassallo’s visionary techniques. One of these works, a vase, is hosted at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

In 1995 he created “12 ash urns for the next Millennium”, ceramic boxes designed to hold people or objects that deserved to be buried. After the firing the urns were broken in different ways by different people, then someone else put them together. The work was certainly very controversial yet its symbolic meaning was so strong that it immediately became very popular.

Many other collections have since contributed to establish Vassallo’s popularity: the Wind Vases, huge vases sculpted by symbolic winds, the Trans Umans, tall blocks made of layers of ceramic objects, the Argonauts, the Wall Disks. Every collection a different challenge, all of them a unique addition to Italian ceramic art.

Fornaci Chiaroscuro e gli artisti internazionali
Museo Città Creativa
Via Sant’Angelo di Ogliara 127, Ogliara (Salerno)
Ph: +39 089282159

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