THE PIONEERS: Luciana Gianello

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.

You can buy it HERE

*Featured photo: Impronte… frammenti di un cammino (2007), cm. 20 x 10 x 11 each. Photo di Giuliano Francesconi

Luciana Gianello (Vicenza 1936) approached weaving by attending Anne Marie Ciminaghi’s atelier in Milan, where she began research on the expressiveness of the ghiordes knot (or jorde), which she had been using since the mid-1980s to create the first tapestries made by knotting strips of colored leather.

Towards the end of the 1980s she passionately dedicated herself to the promotion of Fiber Art and presented the project of a Fiber Art exhibition to the Municipality of Vicenza which resulted in two important international events: Textilia. Textile interpretations and textures in art – First European Comparison (1988) and in Textilia. Interweavings in the past, present and future. Second European comparison: Spain (1991). An intense artistic and exhibition activity follows.

In the following decade she became interested in the textile technique of “scissors”, a fashion that established itself in Italy in the 16th century after the arrival in Rome of the Lanzichenecchi, the feared guard of Maximilian I with their colorful and shredded costumes that were intended to inspire fear and amazement. Luciana creates scissors with the die technique, opening the compact surfaces of her works with carvings in the shape of ancestral symbols to create works of rarefied elegance: the Taiuzadi series is born.   Taiado Taiuzado (1991) is a small circular sculpture in black alcantara fabric engraved with mythological signs. Skénos (), that is, home of the soul, is a large installation made of white felt, which takes the shape of a circular tent and recalls the concepts of universe and perfection, enlivened by the carving of alchemical symbols that mark the times of creation, ordering itself into bands.

Luciana Gianello, Taiado taiuzado-n.2-(1997) Dettaglio

The white leather glove in which colored buttons are inserted that simulate precious gems is delightful: He asked her hand… (1993). The engraved glyphs open to light the tarlatana canvas dyed cobalt blue in Taiado taiuzado n. 2 (1997) composed of a series of circular fans in which the engravings of Chinese characters meaning heart and man are arranged to scale in a triangular composition, hanging as if they were Tibetan prayers.

In 2003 in Similar differences she turned her research towards the expression of individuality, she collected the fingerprints of different people, considering them the sign of recognition that distinguishes them, then enlarged them and printed them on vertical strips of transparent plexiglas, creating, as says the artist, “a wall of identities connected to each other”.

L’uccello di raso (2004) cm. 15 x 15. Foto di Giuliano Francesconi

Alongside the small and large format works, a rich production of artists’ books is born, as in the amusing little red book: The Satin Bird (2004), in which the silhouette of the bird shows the desire to detach itself from the book and fly away ;or as in Being where the other is (2007), a book inspired by the metaphor of the jewel necklace of Zen Buddhism, according to which each element of reality exists only insofar as it is in relation to all the other elements, as would happen in an infinite network of crystals where the brightness of each depends on its ability to reflect the light of all the others: the book is composed of two pages of transparent plexiglass on which Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and European characters are silk-screened, one  gold and  the other in silver grey, the overlapping of which gives preciousness and intensity to the text and the work.  In When Orion rages from the sky in decline (2009) she overlaps gauze and corn paper, dyeing both wine-red, and dotting them with silver to indicate Orion’s escape from the poisonous sting of Scorpio who, Hesiod narrates, wants to kill him.

Tensione senza intenzione (2014), cm. 200 x 160

She dominates the pain of a loss by taking long walks and expresses it by creating clogs with wire wrapped in blood-red handmade paper, creates: Imprints… fragments of a journey (2007) and indicate the struggle of living in adversity; said the artist: “essential in form, transgressive and humble in material: iron wire. Far from being comfortable, they are a sign of the fatigue of walking… and of the loneliness you experience when you choose to remain faithful to yourself, to your own rhythms, to your own times.” She creates a large and poignant installation, disseminating white papier-mâché shoes scattered on the ground towards a direction that indicates an arrival, in: The Thoughts’ footsteps (2013), which accompanies with a recording of thoughts on the meaning of existence; step by step, to the rhythm of your heartbeat you cross the path of life. In Lente Festinas (2015) she is inspired by the bas-relief of Gradiva (“she who walks”) represented in the act of walking and reproduces the lightness of her step by creating the profile of the sandals by wrapping a wire with paper and hemp.

Il passo dei pensieri (2013)

Tensione senza intenzione (2014) is inspired by the Zen art of archery, where the archer must act as if the shots were fired without his intervention, a metaphor for existential behaviour.

Guanciali teneri (2015) reproduces the ancient map of the city of Vicenza on twelve white-lined cushions, marking the most significant emotional places for her, similar to echoes of memory fixed between dream and reality and forming at the same time the poetic and intimate diary of an inter-religious spiritual journey.

Luciana Gianello, Guanciali Teneri, 2015.

In 2020, inspired by a phrase by Georg Wald, she created: … If DNA wanted to swim in the ocean it would turn into a fish..., in which she intertwines thin threads of PET obtained from recycled plastic bottles to recreate the double structure DNA helix, a life that survives the pollution of the planet.

Works that follow one another forming at the same time the poetic and intimate diary of an inter-religious spiritual journey.

Renata Pompas

Renata Pompas è giornalista, saggista e docente; i suoi campi di interesse e applicazione sono: il Colore, il Textile Design e la Fiber Art. Ha lavorato come textile designer per la moda e per la casa, è stata direttore del corso Digital Textile Design ad Afol Moda dove ha insegnato progetto e colore. Ha tenuto lezioni e seminari in Università e Accademie in Italia e all'estero, ha organizzato seminari aziendali, corsi privati individuali e collettivi. Ha pubblicato diversi libri, articoli, testi in catalogo, relazioni in Convegni nazionali e internazionali.