Francesco Ardini “Lethe” at Federica Schiavo Gallery, Milan
In Greek and Roman mythology, those who drank from the Lethe river experienced complete forgetfulness. Oblivion had for the ancients both a negative and a positive value, it made you forgetful of the earthly life yet ready for a new beginning.
Lethe is an anotherworld river as was Stige, title of Ardini’s previous personal exhibition at Federica Schiavo Gallery (Rome, 2015). For the artist, the river is representative of his favourite medium and a strong link to his provenance: four hundred years ago, the community of the small town Nove, near Vicenza, extracted the clay from the watercourse, starting a tradition which is now consolidated.
In “The memories room”, a floor installation represents Lethe, a watercourse of defective memories, composed by several 3D printed porcelain tubular segments, a technology that simulates the flow of thoughts. Heaps of porcelain powder, stoneware shapes, enamels and feldspar with manganese, graphite and crystalline, different colours, all emphasize the magmatic and chaotic materialization of thoughts. Each element finds its influence in a heterogeneous archive of old objects and personal effects, traditional decorations and images of the unconscious. The porcelain dust which appears fragmented is in fact perfectly stable and still, suggesting we can only be partially aware of reminiscences and thoughts.
The first section is completed by a large print on white cardboard, a prelude to “The imaginary garden of the Paradisaeidae”. The celestial landscapes originate from the abstraction of a photographic series shot between the Seventies and the Eighties at the Ceramic Museum in Nove. Ardini has obtained and transformed these images, to create his paradise. The Paradisaeidae are composed of protruding sections reminiscent of the movements of the classic pottery displayed at the museum. They have an architectural presence and create the illusion of a different space-time dimension.
The show ends with a “Return home”, where home stands for the actual world awaiting for us upon the return from an imaginative journey. The works have familiar shapes, such as bowls, vases and pitchers. The Majolicas are displayed as in a shop window in Nove and literally covered with dust. To the touch the dust is surprisingly stable and you notice the passage of the artist’s fingers, a gesture of ironic but delicate interaction with the past.
at Federica Schiavo Gallery, Milan
until 12 January 2019