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insights on art, culture, lifestyle, spirituality, travel, music, society and much much more from a jet-setter currently on "furlough"…

Archive for the month “August, 2007”

reinventing an all’antica tradition

Black. Textured. Tangible.These adjectives alone can only begin to describe the exquisite craftsmanship that goes into these bucchero wares, created by an extremely talented and passionate ceramicist from Orvieto, Italy. Anna Spallaccia’s work has taken contemporary ceramics to another dimension. In her small yet quaint shop on Vicolo dei Dolci, 2, across from the splendid Orvieto Duomo, one can find an interesting collection of objects (from jewelry to bowls, candle holders to decorative spheres) created in the bucchero tradition. She combines the ancient techniques of firing this black terracotta (so to speak) wear with the etching of contemporary designs, the revival of an all’antica tradition into this art form that also looks forward, while at the same time, takes inspiration from past traditions.

This indigenous art form was dominated by the Etruscans (who resided in what we know of today as the provence of Umbria in Central Italy), from the 5th to 7th Century A.D. At that time, this process of firing was new and revolutionary. This “smelly earth” type of clay (derived from the word “bucaro”, which signifies such in Portuguese, always presents a chromatic composition of black, uniform tonality, with a bright and superficial glean on the surface. The types of objects produced are therefore more purified, maybe mixed with carbon and came out of an extremely advanced technique. Like terracotta, when one lightly taps these bucchero wares, one can find that although the objects may appear to be durable, there is a distinct echo that bounces off the metal. These wares, when produced, turn out to be either light or heavyweight, and can be reproduced in many different forms.

Above all, Anna Spallaccia’s bucchero ware stands out because of her unique ways of implementing designs. Back in the days of the Etruscans, the typical designs found on these utilitarian wares consisted of graffiti, horses, symbols and other figures. Today, Anna has created a conceptual landscape on each of these wares, combining an assortment of shapes, lines dots and swirls. Certain parts are removed and interesting shapes are made to render a more contemporary look for the art of today. Pieces may look similar, but no two pieces are exactly the same. These designs may be minimalist, but they never fail to add a dash of pizzazz to yet another “white cube” contemporary art gallery, or to someone’s modernist living room. In fact, Anna’s bucchero ware is the perfect example of how one can combine an ancient tradition with the stylistic attitude of our post-post modern times.

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molto avanguardie!


Exhibition Review :: Milano (IT)
Galleria Gio’ Macroni
Franz Ackermann “From Eden to Lima”

Galleria Gio’ Macroni, where I had my first interview in Italy for a real job after graduation, consists of a very well-designed modern building with two floors and lots of professional gallery space. The dominate colors of this gallery are yellow and white, and boasts of a good use of exhibition space, as well as excellent lighting. At this stellar contemporary art gallery owned by a famous father-son duo, there is A/C (almost unheard of in Italy, still!) and a large, very professional staff to help out with the necessary gallery functions. It was evident, when browsing the gallery after my interview, that this was the type of environment I wanted to work in.


Unlike most of the galleries I frequented this summer, there were two shows going on simultaneously at Galleria Gio’ Macroni. The one that took place downstairs displayed what seemed to be the chaos caused by typhoons and hurricanes in some South American country (Peru?). This exhibition, which took place in three galleries, consisted of big and small paintings (think abstract/morphed land and cityscapes), mostly painted with bold and daring neon colors, clutter of the actual damage caused by these natural disasters (think damaged palm trees scattered on the ground and a broken, deserted boat) and photographs (both color and b & w, mounted on a pedestal as a collage or in a horizontal line on the wall) of people, places, landscapes, street signs, religious icons, nightlife and scenes of everyday life. In addition, there were also pictures of rundown buildings, new and very contemporary urban developments, beaches, highways, airports and street art. The point to be proven seemed to be simply this: Material things and the geniuses of mankind are here today, gone tomorrow, for one can never predict what will happen tomorrow.

One of the most creative ways of combining mediums was a funky shaped, neon colored painting that was plastered to the wall. The painting itself plays out to be a conceptual image of twisted, circular branches floating into the trunk of the tree; the top part of the painting, which seems to represent a huge wave (duo-toned blue), has a peep-hole one can peer into and see, inside the wall, a (silent) video of people and monsters protesting, walking around a stadium, carrying flags, and cheering. There was also a float going around the stadium, with people dressed like Captain Hook in yellow and white costumes. This parade seemed to take place in Brazil, due to all the Brazilian flags and such. Could it be that these creatures, emerged out of the video and were the ones responsible for the damage? Could this be their celebration of victory?

But hey, remember that this IS contemporary art… which can be just about anything anyone feels like creating, RIGHT?!


As a whole, this exhibit was creatively imputed and in your face, chaotic yet boldly honest. Even though it was (as the British put it) “a right mess”, it emphasized what once was and what will never be again. This was an exhibit that you could feel with all that was within you, as you stand in the middle of sheer chaos. It forces one to stop and ponder on what is truly valuable in life, and which things are worth holding onto. It also questions the worth of art as something incredibly temporary, and asks why we put so much time, money and creative energy on things that could easily be wiped away within the blink of an eye.

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