by Lorella Giudici*
In the historic classrooms of Brera, a few meters from what was once the studio of Francesco Hayez, colored threads are intertwined with wool and cotton to create “tapestries” with indissoluble textures and deep meanings, multi-voiced works are woven, in these the relationship between the many hands that create them is one of the fundamental requirements. They are called “Shared Works” and are the specific language of the Therapeutic Art, the two-year specialization set up at the Brera Academy since 2004 with the aim of training Artist Therapists who can operate in the health, social and educational fields. A professional figure increasingly requested by those realities that fight against discomfort, illness, recovery or by those companies, associations, schools and communities who want to focus on training that puts well-being and the ability to reinvent themselves first by opening perspectives in relation to unusual methods and new operational solutions.
It is a completely original way of doing things, which starts from a deep knowledge of the languages of art to get to grasp the maieutic power that is established between the material (whatever it is) and the individuals who participate in the artistic process.
The result of this creative path are choral works that have chosen yarn and fabrics to convey intense contents. And it is precisely these that we want to deal with in our article, of the intertwining and weaving that over the years have seen the birth of works such as Pelle d’oca (a gigantic “cloak” woven by 30 students), Un filo di voce (an exhibition of quilted nets made by approximately 70 students) or Filogenesi: a huge “carpet” of over fifty square meters born from the work of 80 artists in the laboratory of professor, artist therapist, Daniela Zarro.
That being said, however, we must not think that phenomenological doing is superior to expressive content, quite the opposite, in such a complex and long process, matter continuously interfaces with life and with art. Take, for example, Pelle d’oca (goosebumps), a work that saw the light in 2013: a large and soft round, full of knots, threads and colored wool fringes, versatile enough to be spread on the ground as a cozy and soft nest or worn as a shamanic cloak, like the plumage of a wonderful bird, but it is also there to remind us that behind that simple phrase so often used, “goosebumps”, there is the variegated world of emotions, betrayed precisely by the sudden and uncontrollable appearance of shivers down the spine that require a reassuring hug or the warmth of that fleece of balls that symbolically relates to it.
Pelle d’oca (goosebumps)
Of a different flavor is Un filo di voce. Per un’altra rete (A faint voice. For another network )(2017), thousands of threads cross the wefts of the networks that intertwine with the confidential and polysemantic story that begins with the gestures and energies of the hands that have alternated on those patterns. The embroidery is firmly attached to the trammel nets, which in some points remain visible, with its brightly colored skeins, with its shapes that are generated between the thicknesses or are camouflaged among colored cobwebs.
It is a tangle of suggestions, gestures and relationships woven through the slow and rhythmic exchange of needles, from one part of the network (physical, conceptual, emotional) to the other, with the tireless knotting of threads and the construction of complicated and unexpected plots.
Each square centimeter is a tacit dialogue with oneself and with the other, it is an implicit barter with those on the other side who reciprocate the actions, share the experience and the desire (instinctive or conscious as it may be) to ground the deepest, most immediate or simply more uncomfortable thoughts and anxieties in the meshes of those menaidi networks.
They are plots that arise from the impulse to “write” a story that from a single voice becomes a choral, powerful, unstoppable story. Looking at them, Voltaire’s words about love come to mind: “Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination”.
In an era in which “being online” is synonymous with virtual exchanges, a work like this is instead the encounter-clash between matter and life, between a swarm of twists and the figures – real or imaginary – that are generated from it.
Un filo di voce. Per un’altra rete (A faint voice. For another network )
Finally, Filogenesi (Phylogenesis) is a story that starts from the earth, from a perspective that goes from the roots towards the sky. It is a germination, a pulsating breath, it is the mapping of life, of a nature that is strength and metamorphosis, regeneration and renewal, in a continuous evolutionary process.
All these pieces are different one from the other, but in them it is possible to read not only the relationship with the gesture and the material, but also the sense of research that seeks to explore man and his closeness to the earth and nature.
*LORELLA GIUDICI (1965). She is professor of contemporary art history at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan. After a degree in Modern Literature with a historical-artistic address at the State University of Milan and a degree in painting at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, she curates exhibitions and deals with art between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with particular interest in the period between two wars. She is a member of the scientific committee of the Remo Bianco Foundation, the Sangregorio Foundation and the Dadamaino Archive. Among the many publications and curatotions are to be remembered: Edgar Degas. Lettere e testimonianze, Abscondita, Milan 2002; Medardo Rosso. Scritti sulla scultura, Abscondita, Milan 2003; Giorgio Morandi. Lettere, Abscondita, Milan 2004; Remo Bianco. Al di là dell’oro, exhibition at the Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome, December 2006-January 2007; Silvana Editoriale catalog, Milano 2006; Gauguin. Noa Noa e lettere da Thaiti (1891-1893), Abscondita, Milan 2007; Lettere dei Macchiaioli, Abscondita, Milan 2008; La Giostra dell’Apocalisse, exhibition at the Rotonda della Besana, Milan 2008, Silvana Editoriale catalog; Giuseppe Ajmone. Gli amici di Corrente e il Manifesto del Realismo, Fondazione Corrente, Milan 2018; Remo Bianco. Le impronte della memoria, Museo del ‘900, Milan, Silvana Editoriale catalog, Milan 2019.