Maurizio FormatiApril 22, 2021
Immaterial Cultural HeritageApril 22, 2021
Ph. © Stefania Pennacchio
The Deep Roots of Art
She arrived in Sicily following one of those reasons that in a lifetime, push a person - especially an artist - to make difficult choices. Born in Lombardy, the daughter of an industrialist, she lived in Rome and Caracas before returning to her true homeland, Ionian Calabria, from where, ten years ago, she crossed the Strait of Messina to reach Siracusa, a city for which she feels an almost visceral love, where she feels at home and finds fertile ground for her productions, given that - as she says - in Siracusa the stones speak.
From her works, from her words, you can see that she listens and searches for, and uncovers natural elements that then turn up in her ceramic and raku works, in her sculptures. “The aesthetic and conceptual story I tell - with a lilt that reveals her place of origin - is directed at everything eternal that can be found in the Mediterranean, through the privileged feminine perspective. As a southern woman, through archetypes, I illustrate what’s not yet resolved of women’s psychological and physiological nature.”
Ceramics isn’t contemporary, it’s eternal, it's bound to a forever"..."
Her fascinating roots as a southern woman lie in Calabria, near the valley of San Pasquale, which guards seventy Neolithic sites, the second oldest Synagogue in Europe and a Roman villa. Here she collected her first clay, and here she spent ten years interviewing old masters who died in poverty. “From these people who, in Japan, would have been World Heritage-listed - she says, with a hint of sadness - I gleaned an extraordinary knowledge, something which has almost completely disappeared”. On those hills, on her own, she developed her personal research, collected her first soil samples, built her first furnaces, and began to understand how the heat curves worked when there was no electricity, and she learned how to work a potter’s wheel.
“For all of this - she notes - I sacrificed my personal and sentimental life, my certainties, and only recently I have felt ready to pass my knowledge down to young people through teaching. I believe firmly in technique, it’s performative, it’s not an end in itself as some contemporary art would have us believe. Ceramics isn’t contemporary, it’s eternal, it's bound to a forever.”
Her art communicates everything. The sculptures are strong and minimalistic, unsettling and severe, often, at this point of her artistic career, colourless. Once a year she produces a charming collection of raku objects, one-of-a-kind pieces, dedicated to the ceremony of tea and, needless to say, before making them, she attended a specific school to learn the craft.
Her “career” in Siracusa began with an exhibition, which first had various international stops, called Camera reginale. Queen’s chambers, created as part of a project by Philippe Daverio around the time of Expo Milano 2015, for which Stefania was Testimonial Ambassador for ceramic sculpture in the world and Women Ambassador. This was followed by other events, with the Palazzo Bellomo Gallery and INDA, but the cultural politics of the city always seem to appreciate her work somewhat absent-mindedly, especially if compared to other cities in Italy and abroad. Clearly, this causes her some sorrow, however, in her studio-laboratory in the heart of Ortigia, her gaze and her hands continue to explore art with a certain detachment, even towards the galleries that represent her, of which the most important is Jean Blanchaert’s, in Milan.
Una vita passata a raccontare storie con le parole, la penna, la macchina per scrivere, il computer, l’obiettivo. L’ultima in ordine di tempo, nel libro Il patrimonio degli equivoci. Allarme beni culturali in Sicilia. Non ho resistito all’idea di guidare SiracusaCulture, di cui sono Direttore responsabile.