Lucia Cantò‘s artistic practice (1995, Pescara) stands out for her use of terracotta and her particular obsession with the form of the vase. When we think of these two elements, the reference to the primitive is inevitable. Equally immediate is the connection with the concept of community. In antiquity, clay was worked in a collective context, and its role was strongly social. It also had a strong spiritual component. It was considered a powerful art and was entrusted only to women for its transformative capacity, a prerogative of the female womb. These assumptions are useful for understanding Cantò’s art and, in particular, her exhibition Stelle che sorreggono altre stelle opening tomorrow, October 5th, at Elpis Foundation in Milan.
The exhibition – curated by Giovanni Paolin and Sara Maggioni – stems from the artist’s intention to collaborate with a temporary community, contemplating the meaning of the vase within a space. In these terms, the exhibition unfolds on two levels, both physical and interpretive. On the ground floor, the artist’s works are displayed, while the upper floor is dedicated to workshops, totaling four, conducted by Lucia along with a small community of people who came together in response to an open call launched by the artist and the Elpis Foundation. Participants of all ages, genders, and professions are invited to create a self-portrait in the form of a terracotta vase. The vase will then be filled with an essence, an organic element that will necessarily undergo a transformation. Here, opportunities for poetic reflection, practical workshops, and moments of sharing the creative process intertwine.
Works on the ground floor
The ground floor of the Foundation is dedicated to three new productions that introduce viewers to the artist’s vision, also providing keys to interpret the workshop. “Madre” (2023), “Edilizia di un pensiero” (2023), and “Stellario” (2023) are all visible simultaneously, coexisting while remaining autonomous. Embracing forms dear to the artist, all the works revolve around sharp contrasts and symbolic corporeality.
“Madre” (2023) consists of a terracotta sculpture composed of three elements assembled in a unique balance. One element both hosts and simultaneously conceals the junction of the other two terracotta elements. In particular, “Madre” embodies thoughts collected by the artist during conversations with women close to her, transcribed in notebooks.
“Edilizia di un Pensiero” (2023), composed of heterogeneous materials, confronts the visitor with elements in stark contrast with each other, which, through their dialogue, convey a sense of fragility. The mantovane parasassi, traditionally designed to create a safe environment and contain falling construction materials on a construction site, have their function reversed, hosting a series of flowers inside. These flowers undergo different life cycles during the exhibition period, and the sculptural installation acts as a magnifying glass on the inevitable process of flower drying, holding them and eventually letting them fall over time, each following its own vital rhythm.
Finally, the sculpture “Stellario” (2023) takes its name from the object that inspired it: a bronze crown adorned with twelve stars, discovered by the artist during a stay in Naples. In the presented work, among the seven elements that compose it, there is no hierarchy; instead, each collaborates with the others, supporting and being supported. This work, which concludes the exhibition on the ground floor and introduces the upper floor dedicated to the collective workshop, inspired the very title of the exhibition.
Stelle che sorreggono altre stelle” is a circular exhibition, opening and closing in contact with terracotta, activated by the emotional investment of a small community. What holds it all together and appears as the cornerstone of Lucia Cantò’s research is the written word, consisting of notes, traces on the artworks, and marks that blend within the exhibition space. Language forms the basis of each of the artist’s sculptures and has the power to connect all her installations.
Ph Credits ©Fabrizio Vatieri