Animalarium, 20 febbraio 2013
di Laura Ottina
Recently Sebastiano and I spent a weekend in Brescia to attend the opening of the collective show Marabù Vizi e Virtù. A big thanks to Chiara Padova who invited Sebastiano to participate in the exhibition and gave us the opportunity discover her beautiful gallery, an elegant city and lots of fascinating people!
Since 1972, Chiara is the owner of the Galleria dell'Incisione, an established art gallery specializing in Mittel-European art from the late 19th and early 20th century. With dedication and connoisseurship, she has introduced and promoted many extraordinary artists and a media, engraving, which is generally ignored and underrated in our country.
But the gallery's offerings are much wider, and range from Japanese woodblocks to sculpture, contemporary illustration and photography.
The inspiration behind the unusual theme of the show lies in the powerful marabous inhabiting the wonderful engravings and drawings of the symbolist artist Richard Müller.
These striking and rather unappealing carrion-eating water birds of the stork family are physically characterized by a bald head and neck, a dangling air-filled breast pouch, a long straight beak and thin long wading legs. Their hyeratic pose and unsettling gaze are likely the origin of their long history as a symbol for wisdom and spiritual insight.
In Müller's engravings the marabou is given center stage as an allegorical animal impersonating the vices and virtues of man, and sometimes transformed into a demonic creature of gigantic proportions. After seeing these stunning works, I understand and subscribe to Chiara's passion and desire to showcase them.
The show features a series of works by Müller accompanied other Mittel-European artists of the period and by a selection of works by 12 contemporary artists produced for the occasion.
Seba's colorful marabou was the only digital artwork on show, and I'm very happy to report that it's already been sold!
Chiara is also one of the greatest fans and collaborators of Franco Matticchio, who was not present in person at the event, but whose artworks were lovingly sprinkled around her house and gallery.
Although initially reluctant to explore the exhibition's theme, he ended up creating three marabou drawings that are masterpieces of humour, mystery and imagination.
A special mention goes to the watercolors of Giorgio Maria Griffa, a wonderful discovery for me and one of the highlights of the show.
Marabù Vizi e Virtù is open until the 20 of March.