Between Art Research & Technology: Antonella Cimatti
Giovannini, Rolando, Ceramics Art & Perception
THE CITY OF FAENZA IS NOTED IN THE WORLD FOR being one of the motherlands of ceramics. In particular, it embraces more than a millennium of terracotta, first engobed, and then glazed with a typical surface treatment containing tin.
But the city, above all at the beginning of the 1900s, was characterised for combining aspects of creativity with those of technological research of materials and processes. In reality, thanks to the enlightened mind of Gaetano Ballardini, who not only founded a museum (1908) that quickly became international, also implemented a School of Art and Craft (1916) where the pupils--few at the beginning--learnt and experimented with different techniques.
It could be said that the particularity of the Faentino 'style' not only resides in the extremely high quality of its rich polychromatic decoration well evident in its superlative maiolica production, but also, above all, in its attention to detail regarding production, its perfection of processes and the careful attention that is paid to the ways in which things are done.
Antonella Cimatti, having been trained at Faenza's Istituto Statale d'Arte per la Ceramica (State Art Institute for Ceramics), and having been both a pupil of Carlo Zauli and of l'Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Arts) in Bologna, fits perfectly into this criterion. Not only is she creative, clever in management and skilled at colour combination, she is also precise and dynamic in her freehand decoration, never losing sight of the importance of series production, while paying close attention to contemporary trends regarding concept and design.
This is her way of working, where conceptualisation and theory are fleshed out well before the clay is even entrusted to her hands, or for that matter to interpretation or to whim. Due to this, the experimentations that characterised her postmodern flavoured work at the beginning of the '80s were welcomed into the artistic movement of the 'Nuova Ceramica' (New Ceramics), a group of artists curated by art critics Franco Solmi and Marilena Pasquali (1982-1984), having also had shows in the Tokyo Department Stores of Seibu) and the movement 'A Tempo e A Fuoco' (In Rhythm and In Fire), curated by Vittorio Fagone (1983-85).
During this period, with her series Le Preziose (The Precious Ones), she furthered her work in industry production, in particular for the manufacturer, Flavia Ceramics (Bitossi), in Montelupo Fiorentino. Periods of study and teaching in Japan at Toki-Shi, in France at Limoges, in England at Portsmouth and in Belgium at Turnhout, served to broaden her awareness of a variety of materials, from porcelain to jewellery. In Raku Dolce of 2003, she produced an unpublished series of vases with a black and white motif, research that merited winning First Prize at the competition, Il Vaso Officinale (The Officinal Vase), in Collegno, Turin.
Like any artist belonging to the Faentino culture, which is dedicated to utility, her attention orients itself toward renewing the forms and design of the artisan. A sort of mix between artist and artisan, she moves toward a new language altogether where the work becomes--as if innately so--an object of the times, concrete. And this is where her collaboration with two top quality botteghe (studios) in Faenza, those of Antonio Liverani and Laura Silvagni, was born. The former association being of a limited edition series of objects decorated with a floral motif. During his presentation at the Flora Magna Collection in 1997, the Director of the International Ceramics Museum of Faenza, Gian Carlo Bojani, said, "Now we are able to see in which direction those fleshy pinks are going, those swollen expanses: they have become rose vases, or are they vase roses? …