I PIONIERI: Gina Morandini

Italiano (Italian)

This column will present twice a month a historical figure of Italian Fiber Art, present in the book Fiber Art Italiana. I Pionieri.

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*Featured photo: Gina Morandini, La fine e l’inizio

Gina Morandini (1931- 2020) in the mid-1950s opened a weaving workshop in Udine in which she also made tapestries from designs by abstract artists. In 1959 she started the Textile Art section of the State Art Institute in Udine, where she taught until 1991.
When she visited the Lausanne Biennial she was won over, and in the 1980s she began to make independent works in the form of textile tapestries, abstract and textural, in which she experimented with free textile techniques.

Gina Morandini, Porte

A rigorous and versatile artist, she is engaged on several fronts: historian of textiles and popular costume, organizer of seminars on textile techniques, curator of exhibitions, co-founder of the National Association The Textile Arts, of which she was president from1987 to 1998 and then president ad Honorem. In 1995 she promoted the International Competition of Contemporary Textile Art dedicated to promoting Fiber Art to the younger generation, organizing the juries that selected the works, making Maniago an exhibition center of young Fiber Art, with artists coming from all over the world. In 2022, The Association Le Arti tessili dedicated the “Gallery of Contemporary Textile Art Gina Morandini” to her.

Her artistic journey is as rich, articulate and multifaceted as her indefatigable and effervescent personality: several themes have been addressed in this long journey: the study of the ancient weavings of the weavers of Carnia leads, in the early 1990s, to the creation of some silkscreens in which the enlargement of tacamenti (the ancient notebooks on which Friulian weavers of the early 20th century recorded their weaving patterns) is enlivened in some places by bundles of colored threads that are superimposed on the reproduction of the weave.

Gina Morandini, Nozze

At the same time she made her first two-dimensional works, among them Totem tessile (1993) is an installation composed of a succession of panels that slope chromatically from black to blue. The same year she landed on “off loom” works made by weaving industrial ribbons of harmonic steel through which she passes wool, among which I remember: Omaggio a Escher, Blu, Nero con crine e Nodo nero.

The research proceeds by moving from the cold rigor of steel to the warmth of old and precious used textiles, chosen for works that develop the theme of the search for self, with a series of panels: in Labirinto N. 1 she inserts a fragment of poetry in the center of the panel of which she embroiders some words. In Labirinto N. 2 he encloses a gold-leaf disk from which threads depart that cannot get out, evidence of the difficulty of expressing oneself. In Labirinto N. 3 the image of a child’s face, printed on blue gauze overlaid on gold fabric, evokes the child we were.

Gina Morandini, Pannello

She experiments with working with rolls of harmonic steel and from 1997 to 2000 with a work in progress represents the three ages of women, understood according to folk tradition: she shapes the metal of the ribbons and suggests with the shapes of the composition the Scialle nunziale, the Scialle della donna coniugata and the Scialle vedovile. Nor Le parole del silenzio (1998) unrolls a long sheet of steel ribbons crisscrossed with fragments of words and gathers it to the ground by wrapping it around itself. Intense and monumental is the theme of the “threshold” in the large installation Quale porta è la mia… (2003), in which he creates a symbolic initiatory path marked by existential stages. In the Uovo universale (2007) the golden and perfect form is suspended in the void in a cradle-net, a symbol of the primordial nucleus, archetype of life and beginning.

Gina Morandini, Porte

In 2009, she mounted a sit-specific exhibition entitled Corpo in figure, which is divided into the five symbolic stages of female life; among these Ho un corpo sono corpo consists of six panels of old used cloth made precious with gold that show images of bodies touched, caressed and embraced, in a contact that is at once self-knowledge and awareness, but also flayed bodies showing the perfection of their interior and at the same time the anguish of a wound, of an illness, of a possible end, in which the red thread that seemed to profile the form to enhance its beauty now seems a thread of blood: an emotionality restrained by the elegance of the work.

She returns to metal in Geometrie per il corpo: six aluminum panels in which the features of the body are translated into the two-dimensional structure of the garment construction, cut out in felt and animated by graphic crossings of red and black thread that create a light and soothing counterpoint: almost an abstract work, in which the forms allude with the part to the whole. A video with macro-enlargements of human tissues reminds with scientific realism and visionary enchantment that we are all made of “fabric” and concludes the sections.

Gina Morandini, Ho un corpo

Numerous are her Libri d’artista, small- and medium-format works in which Morandini gracefully and lightly interprets the poems of various authors, with interventions on handmade paper in the Pulcinoelefante series, or composes silent narratives on plates of raw-cut, hand-folded and engraved lead, as in: Nozze, Prima comunione, Ombretto, Tagliata and ritagliata, Seconda pelle 1 and Seconda pelle 2.

The steel ribbon returns in the work La fine e l’inizio, from 2010, in which he unrolls a long ribbon of harmonic steel crossed by a white nylon webbing, wraps it in the center and then softly unfolds it in the outstretched peaks, creating an existential knot to be untied that contains-in the difficulty of its entanglement and encounter-the possibility of a solution. A continuous experimentation expressed with formal elegance, at once light and strong, in the search for existential, symbolic, personal and universal roots.

Gina Morandini, Libro