Lea Constestabile and Florencia Martinez
Curated by Barbara Pavan
Opening on Sunday, August 20, 2023, 5:30 pm. Musical intervention by Mariko Masuda, violin
Monastery of Sant’Amico, 7 Sant’Amico Street- L’Aquila
Aug. 20-31, 2023
Info mob. 339 627 4730 – 333 388 7274


As part of the urban re-generation project promoted by MuBAq, ORANTI, an exhibition investigating the textile medium as an expression of spirituality in contemporary art through the works of two artists – Lea Contestabile and Florencia Martinez – curated by Barbara Pavan, and included among the events of the Seminiamo Arte III event, opens on Sunday, August 2023, at 5:30 p.m. at the Sant’Amico Monastery in L’Aquila, ORANTI, an exhibition investigating the textile medium as an expression of spirituality in contemporary art through the works of two artists – Lea Contestabile and Florencia Martinez – curated by Barbara Pavan, and included among the events of the Seminiamo Arte III event, with the musical intervention of Mariko Masuda on violin.

Oranti” is a hybrid art exhibition: not a bi-personal but rather a broad reflection on the declinations and meanings of prayer in relation to the work of needle and thread and in dialogue with the spaces of the Monastery known in L’Aquila over the centuries precisely for the excellence of the embroidery that the nuns made here.

The prayerer is a person in an attitude of prayer; the artist is one who exercises one of the fine arts (cf. Treccani vocabulary): the comparison of these different elements gave rise to this exhibition, which continues a journey in which art and spirituality have, for millennia, traveled side by side.

Florencia Martinez. Que el dolor no me sea indiferente, detail

On display, large-scale works such as “Ricucire la vita,” a wall installation by Lea Contestabile, which in the layering of netting, linen, cloth, threads, cardboard, safety pins, needles, buttons, tarlatana, becomes a testimony to a secular prayer in which the artist asks forgiveness of herself through what Louise Bourgeois called the healing power of the needle that in the repetition of gestures echoes a litany, a ritual, mending physical, emotional, spiritual wounds. And the large sculpture “Oranti” with which Florencia Martinez arrives at the spiritual sphere investigated in the dimension of pain and abandonment until arriving at a profound reflection on the meaning of entrusting oneself, the work is inspired by Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini in which the artist traces the absolute and ideal form of empathy and that sense of incompleteness, of openness to infinite possibilities and metamorphoses to which she feels her work is akin.

The exhibition itinerary is then articulated in a body of work by Lea Contestabile in which both the signs of ancestral and universal beliefs and symbols of Christian tradition converge, combined and reworked in a synthesis of different spiritual and religious experiences that finds in art a single plural voice, an expression of the same loneliness, the same bewilderment that all men of any age and at any latitude experience when faced with the abyss. And, again, with Florencia Martinez’s works dominated by gold, with its figure of sacred immortality, and by blue – the color that, as Michel Pastoureau teaches, since the 12th century Christians associate with light and therefore with God and that has since then dyed the Virgin’s mantle, becoming the very symbol of the sacred in the art of the following centuries. Soft sculptures composed from a basic module replicated in an almost obsessive manner that the artist sews rhythmically with meticulous and obstinate care: a practice that in the rituality of the gesture repeated again and again becomes prayer. After all, already Pachomius, the father of cenobitic monasticism that has profoundly influenced Western culture, as well as the later Benedictine tradition, had understood manual labor as a form of prayer. In this series of works, the artists explore the dimension of the impermanence of any form in its continuous mutability, as life itself actually is, while expressing the hope that, along the path of existence, our humanity will never be diminished.

LEA CONTESTABILE, Ricucire la vita, detail, T.Mengo

LEA CONTESTABLE was born in Ortucchio (Aq) 01/07/1949. She lives and works in L’Aquila. After scientific high school she enrolled in Architecture and later in the Accademia dii Belle Arti dell’Aquila graduating in painting in 1973. In the same year with a scholarship from the Accademia di San Luca directed by Mino Maccari he worked as an engraver at the Calcografia Nazionale in Rome directed by Carlo Bertelli. He graduated in weaving from the Penne Art Institute in 1977 and in 1991 enrolled in the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy at the University of L’Aquila. From 1976 to 2014 he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in L’Aquila. To an intense artistic activity documented by exhibitions in Italy (Rome, Milan, Naples, Florence, Termoli, Forlì, Ascoli Piceno, Pescara, Teramo, Pieve di Cento, Spoleto, Enna, Frascati, Palermo, Bologna, Todi, Trevi, Salerno, Bari, Busto Arsizio, Gaeta… ) and abroad (Latin America, Neuchatel, Hamilton, Rottweil, Toronto, Budapest, Craiova, Calafat, Moscow, Istanbul, Bilbao, Madrid, Bodrum, Paris, Tangier, Zagreb, Berlin, Iasi. ..) flanked by a growing interest in the world of childhood education, and in 1995 he founded and directed MuBAq – Children’s Museum L’Aquila, an association that is part of the international organization of Children’s Museums Hands On! Europe. After the 2009 earthquake, she raises funds for the construction of the VILLAGE OF CHILDREN’S ART in Fossa (Aq). Versatile artist creates art books, videos and performances, experimenting with all kinds of mixing of languages. With musicians Carlo Crivelli, Maurizio. Fischione, Orazio Tuccella, Giorgio Battistelli, Sabatino Servilio, Erasmo Gaudimonte and with the Teatro Stabile dell’Aquila, Società dei Concerti Barattelli, Sinfonica Abruzzese, Solisti Aquilani, Officina Musicale, Gruppo Serafino Aquilano organizations and associations, he creates multimedia shows such as Il mondo sonoro di Escher, C’era una volta il XX° Secolo, Musica per arte sacra, C’era una volta…al Castello. As part of Cantieri dell’Immaginario he presents The Liquid Rainbow of Creativity with the Solisti Aquilani and I quipus della memoria with Teatro Stabile and MUNDA- Museo Nazionale d’Abruzzo. In 2022 for Il sogno di una notte di mezza estate (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) by Compagnia Torre del Bardo at Villa Sabucchi, Pescara she creates installations and scenic elements. In 2011 she is invited to the Venice Biennale and in 2013 and 2017 to the Bodrum Biennale (Turkey). After the April 6 earthquake she devoted herself to “reconstruction” with projects such as Art under tents in tent cities, Un paese ci vuole international project involving Finnish and Turkish children, Arteambiente and Cantieri dei Talenti funded by the European Community. With MuBAq he designs and directs national and international events such as Etnorami-Nomadisms of contemporary art, The Garden of Memory – the corner of small stars, The Liquid Rainbow of Creativity, Seminiamo Arte.

LEA CONTESTABILE, Ricucire la vita, detail, T.Mengo

Florencia Martinez was born in Argentina in 1962. Her recent solo exhibitions include Tundra at Gilda Contemporary Art in Milan, curated by Cristina Artese and Andrea Lacarpia; Roundly Resident at Spazio Curva Pura, Rome; and, again, at the Eachway Museum in Shenzen, China, curated by Barbara Santoni; at the Milan Triennale, curated by Angelo Crespi; at MACRO in Rome, at Zaion Gallery in Biella, and at Chiostrino in Como, curated by Chiara Canali and Ivan Quaroni. He has participated in countless collective exhibition projects in Italy and abroad. Among them: Unclassifiable, Sala delle Pietre, Todi, curated by ArtOUT; Luco, F’Art Spazio per le arti contemporanee, L’Aquila; Fiberstorming, Ex Ateneo Bergamo for BG BS Capitali della Cultura; The soft revolution, Museo del Tessile Busto Arsizio, curated by B. Pavan for 25WTA World Textile Art; #NOINONLAVREMMOFATTO, performance for MILANOSCULTURA, Fabbrica del Vapore, curated by Valerio Dehò and Ilaria Centola; Il respiro dell’arte at Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, curated by Virginia Monteverde; at Biennale Fiber Art, Spoleto, Palazzo Collicola; at Bangladesh Biennale; TRIA. Rethimno. House of Culture, Crete; Back To Zante, Solomos Cultural Center, Zakynthos, Greece; Context Art Miami Basel with Galleria Stefano Forni, Bologna; Delicartesen, Galeria Montoriol, Barcelona; Imago Mundi, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, curated by L.Beatrice; Pop Up Revolution, Caserma XXIV Maggio curated by Achille Bonito Oliva; Pop Up Italian Show, Hubei Museum of Arts, Wuhan, Hubei. She was among the artists in the Italian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 2011. The following have written about her work: Valerio Dehò, Alessandra Redaelli, Vittorio Sgarbi, Jolanda Insana, Piero Colaprico, Dino Messina, Giorgio Bonomi, Barbara Pavan, Paola Tognon, Elvira Seminara, Maurizio Stupiggia, Cristina Gilda Artese, Andrea Lacarpia, Fabio Carnaghi, Giorgio de Finis, Anna Maria Panzera. Galleries of reference: Gilda Contemporary Art, Milan; Galleria Stefano Forni, Bologna; Zaion Gallery, Biella; Galleria Ester Montoriol, Barcelona. He has been teaching photography at ACME in Milan since 2014. Lives and works in Milan.

Florencia Martinez. Que el dolor no me sea indiferente
Florencia Martinez. Que el dolor no me sea indiferente, detail
Florencia Martinez. Que el dolor no me sea indiferente, detail