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Bloom is Clara Garesio's Result.

On the occasion of the 80th birthday of the artist Clara Garesio her work Rebirth Maridala (2012) will be exhibited for a year in her "place of the heart", the National Museum of Ceramics Duca di Martina in Naples (Italy). At the same museum a great retrospective exhibition dedicated to Clara Garesio and supervised by Franco Bertoni took place last year. The exhibition, inaugurated on 22 October 2016 and lasted until the end of February 2017, was entitled Bloom is Result (a line by Emily

Dickinson), because--as Antonella Cilento wrote--"the sole and real aim of working on oneself is growing as a plant, feeding on, playing, enjoying oneself even when the going gets tough" and Clara has never stopped enjoying herself: her work shows an infinite joyfulness, an absolute quality, an unprecedented variety, liveliness and beauty. Now this retrospective exhibition honours her at last: even though with white hair her most recent works are maybe the merriest, the happiest, the most joyful works of her production.

In 20th century ceramics, despite the contribution made by the creative female thought to the operation, the project and the transmission of knowledge, what we can define as the other half oi ceramics had to accept a marginal position in the world of art and research. Therefore, some figures remained in the shadows for a long time, at least until an unexpected critical recognition and/or the development of the awareness of its role and value made it appear on the scene of the complex and multi-shaped world of Italian ceramics.'

And that is the case of Clara Garesio who could take an extraordinary benefit from this departure, in the sense that--as Franco Bertoni writes--she was not tormented by the 'army of thoughts' on art and allowed herself the luxury of the purest and freest creative joy, the one that does not need any explanation. It seems that her ceramic creations have all been made in summer, on beautiful and limpid days with the brightest colours. Only an innate esprit de finesse has somehow contained a total abandon to the infinite combinations of colours and materials that, for the structure of ceramics itself, bring powders and enamels so close to human destinies and to their contrary ambitions. In this buen retiro, now revealed, one of the miracles of art took place: moments of gratitude and homage to beauty turned into ceramics.

Clara was born in Turin in 1938, where she started her training at the Civica Scuola di Arte Ceramica (School of Ceramics) directed by Walter Corallini. Encouraged by the successful results she obtained and by the deep and natural pleasure experienced while making ceramics, she attended the most prestigious art school in that field, the Istituto Statale d'Arte per la Ceramica (Art School for Ceramics) G. Ballardini in Faenza. Among her teachers there were illustrious names of the artistic, technological and historical research in the field of ceramics: Bucci, Liverani, Biancini, Emiliani. She also studied with many of the future protagonists of 20th century ceramics (Zauli, Valentini, Spagnulo, Tramonti, Diato, Hedberg, etc.), and all of them, not by chance, are men.

Those were years of great artistic excitement and Faenza represented the nerve centre of ideas, experiences and knowledge in ceramics going through international art. In such a stimulating and dynamic environment, thanks to her fantasy and talent, Clara was awarded the first important recognition, among which the first prize at the ceramics competition par excellence, the Premio Faenza (Faenza Prize) in 1956.

At the end of her education path, Clara returned to Turin, where she worked with Victor Cerrato and then at Vi.Bi., but in a few months they proposed she teach at the Istituto Statale dArte (Art School) in Isernia, directed by the ceramist Saturni. She accepted and devoted herself with dash and passion to teaching. At the same time, she kept on experimenting and producing a huge quantity of works characterised by original shapes, finishes and decorations, taking part in major national competitions and exhibitions with success. Three years later she moved to Naples, where she taught Professional Drawing and Plastics at the new Istituto Professionale di Stato per l'Industria e l'Artigianato della Porcellana (High School for Industry and Porcelain Handicraft) G. Caselli, always putting together teaching and artistic production and taking part, on behalf of the Shool, in national competitions and exhibitions, such as the Mostra d'Oltremare (Overseas Exhibition) in Naples and the Mostra dell'Artigianato (Handicraft Exhibition) in Florence, where in 1966 she was awarded the First Prize. Moreover, Clara worked with Capodimonte porcelain manufacturers and majolica workshops of the Amalfi Coast; she made reliefs and painted panels for architecture, and--with her husband Giuseppe Pirozzi, a sculptor--took part in designing groups for architecture and street furniture competitions, being awarded commissions for public works.

Following a natural sensitivity for the material traces of historical memories, starting from the '60s, she approached the poetics of Nouveau Realisme and gave rise to the genre assemblages by using different materials (ceramics, wood, plastics, fabrics, metal decorations and gems) in order to create objects to be used, decorative objects or objects of art such as furniture, accessories and jewels.

From the beginning of the '90s, she gave rise to a new creative season with new types of works, through which she gradually took possession of wider physical and meaningful spaces. She made a series of manufactured products, from tiles to fretworked plates, to Volti (Faces), Mani (Hands) and installations of elements organized according to a geometric plan, such as the mandala, or freely, such as the Appunti (Notes), the Architetture oniriche (Dream-like Architectures), the Corpi celesti (Celestial Bodies), to the recent Fiorire e il fine (Bloom is Result). In these years, Enzo Biffi Gentili, getting to know her activity, immediately realized--as he writes--"he's facing the phenomenon of an extraordinary uninterrupted path" so that he felt a "moral duty" to fill a serious historical and critical gap, making the past and forgotten talent of Clara Garesio be recognised. (2) In this way she started her late path out of the shadows: she was awarded career prizes by institutions and ceramics museums dedicating her retrospective exhibitions and acquiring her works for their collections, among which was the MIC in Faenza, which acquired her great Blue Mandala. During these years she experienced intense exhibition activity, taking part in national and international exhibitions as well as in personal exhibitions at galleries and public spaces. She obtained prestigious commissions, such as the realization of two large bas-reliefs dedicated to the work of women (UN, Geneva, 2013; EE AS, Brussels, 2014).

Today Clara Garesio lives and works in Naples and teaches at the Humaniter. She remains devoted to making her ceramic creations, and continues with her artistic research combining it with the dialogue and comparison between the public and the world of art.


(1). F. Bertoni, 'L'esprit de finesse di Clara Garesio', in Clara Garesio. Fiorire e il fine, Napoli, Editalfa, 2016

(2.) E. Biffi Gentili, 'Vietri: last but the best', in Le ceramiche di Clara Garesio, Salerno, Menabo, 2006.

Francesca Pirozzi is an architect, registrar of the cultural heritage and PhD of History of Art. She has worked as a researcher for several bodies (such as SBAS in NAPLES, Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, CNR, University of Granada, University of Skopje); she cooperates with several scientific magazines and works on a fixed basis with TRIA (International Magazine of Urban Culture). She teaches History of Art at school, leads ceramics workshops and takes part in other artistic activities.

Caption: Vase-tree, 2015-16 porcelain painted in third fire with gold, h 30 cm. Image credit: [C] Luciano e Marco Pedicini.

Caption: Vases 1960, 1958, 1966, terracotta, colombino molding, decoration with shiny and sanded enamels, h: 70 cm, 62 cm, 67 cm. Image credit: [C] Luciano e Marco Pedicini.
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Author:Pirozzi, Francesca
Publication:Ceramics Art & Perception
Date:Apr 1, 2018
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