Sculpture Made of Thought, Form and Technique: Lisa Nocentini, between GALESTRO Clay and the Red Clay of Montelupo Fiorentino

By Giovannini, Rolando | Ceramics Art & Perception, September 2012 | Go to article overview

Sculpture Made of Thought, Form and Technique: Lisa Nocentini, between GALESTRO Clay and the Red Clay of Montelupo Fiorentino


Giovannini, Rolando, Ceramics Art & Perception


TO HAVE ONE'S OWN STUDIO ON THE SO-CALLED "GALESTRO" RED EARTH, IN THE area called "Impruneta" (the worldwide famous clay, the oil jars and the cotto floor tiles that are found in the Renaissance buildings of Tuscany) is something quite significant in itself. In fact, it is a true privilege to be a sculptor in Tuscany where landscape is infinite, marked with slopes and gentle hills spotted by clusters of cypress trees emerging here and there, or casolari (rural homes) and castelletti (rural buildings with an adjoining small castle) surrounded by oaks. A landscape that changes with the light and the sequence of days and gives a stunning feeling, a sudden, striking perception of what is before one's eyes as if it were a theatre stage where nothing looks defined, static but moving instead, dynamic, maybe a little concealed and encrypted. It is as if reality were rarefied, made up of many notes and sketches and the context were dimmed off and lowered, just in time to bring the pure artistic thought of each day out of it. A place where inspiration takes shape because it is free to express itself, to come out, born out of the context. Any dream made by Lisa Nocentini, any thought, any story, becomes reality under her master hands that while touching the earth, the mother clay, feel it alive and plastic and mouldable.

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It is important to mention first of all, that she was invited by Vittorio Sgarbi at the Venice Biennale at its Florence seat at Villa Bardini from 13 July to 9 October 2011, with her work La Governante (The Governess), made of terracotta and wood.

To create her sculptures, Nocentini starts making sketches, something she does instinctively well. She does not start from the idea of wanting to create a piece. Her work arises from her unconscious, from the emerging of an idea that she then represents, it is something that has to do with representing moments that are frozen there. Her works are metaphors for what life is, flashes of life. Animals play a prevailing role in her works, then there is the American doll, with her striped socks, recalling the fictional character Raggedy Ann, a popular doll in the US, then there is the human figure. You can define her works as memory containers. The child born from Peruvian ceramics, for example, recalls motherhood. Or the domestic scene where a woman gives birth to her child under the eye of the sterile family cat, as to underline procreation and the eternal balance of life.

This is how one can imagine the environment where Nocentini (an instructor of ceramics at Studio Art Centers International in Florence since 1990) creates her figures, her compositions, her nursery rhymes. She remembers her childhood: "What I do has a lot to do with my childhood memories. When I was a little girl, I liked to look at my toys, the figures that made up nativity scenes, the papier mache animals that were on the toy trains and other objects that we used to play with."

In the natural quiet of her studio, her words break out clear, phrases and sentences make a composition, necessary to break the silence, to give each of her works a third and a fourth dimension, that of the written language and listening in addition to a formal and pictorial meaning.

It would seem as if the technique--the ancient ceramics know-how, and the materials that play a fundamental role in the process, were overwhelmed by the expressive communication ability of her sculptures to the point of becoming almost superfluous, unnecessary, nonexistent, trivial. Yes, because none of the figures that are so typical of Nocentini's repertoire live just of the methodological, technological, scientific aspects evoked by the glazes, the colours and the engobes that are at the basis of ceramics itself.

The colours and the shades she uses closely resemble the work of Giorgio Morandi, in that they have a savour of earth, of Tuscany, of the places you cross on your way to Siena and its surroundings, of roads that tell of the different types of earth the famous painter Morandi used in his works. …

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