Oh!Nirica: where dreams meet matter

Ugo La Pietra

In the early 80s, I called them “ARTificially made” objects: projects and pieces in which I tried to develop the relationship, which had been interrupted for too long, between the culture of design (artists and designers) and the culture of making things.
Thirty years have passed, and the world of art and design has energetically resumed its collaboration with those still capable of working with material.
I refer to traditional artisanal craft, but also to experimentaton and the application of new materials and processes.
I also note the increasing frequency with which artists who, after decades of being interested in “conceptuality”, have figured out how to link this category with “spectacularity”.
It seems to me that the collections Mauro Lovi has coordinated for Olivia Toscani Rucellai’s “Otto Luogo dell’Arte” constitutes a convergence of the great ferment which has recently developed in the world of applied arts.
Artists who, either with their own manufacturing skills or with the help of local artisans, have brought to life a series of objects, freighted with allusive and symbolic values, centered around the theme of sleeping and dreaming.
Mauro Lovi’s “Boat-Shaped Bed”, inspired by Phoenician ships and their nocturnal navigation, is in a way the show’s symbolic object, around which works by 40 artists (of different ages, cultural extraction and citizenship) have been gathered.
Two important things must be recognized about this show: the first is that it involves the various artists in a theme in such a way that the objects created, in addition to expressing “ARTificially made” values and their own functions, take on meanings which allude to the proposed theme.
The second important thing is that the works designed by the artists are also signed by the artisans who made them, confirming the Gallery’s vocation, which has always placed emphasis on artisanal crafting skills as well as creative value–using the mastery of Tuscan handicrafts in many projects–and on the use of traditional technniques as well as high technology.
The path Otto Luogo dell’Arte has taken, through its previous shows and those planned for the future, shows a sensitivity and an ability to place itself within an international context (that of European Craft), thus helping our “system”, still sorely lacking in Institutions (Agencies, Museums, Schools) and a market (gallerists, collectors, rankings) in comparison with the International System.

Ugo La Pietra, Milan, August, 2011