Pascale Beauchamps’ lyrical sculptures of stone and cement sing songs of ancient geologies and celebrate the sacred elements of water, light and earth. An extraordinary collection of her work from 2009 to the present, Movimento Immobile, is currently on view in an equally extraordinary venue – the Cripta Rasponi e Giardini Pensili Pallazo della Provincia, The Rasponi Crypt and Hanging Gardens at The Palace of the Province, Ravenna, Italy.
The exhibit is the second installment in a brilliant series of four events produced by the Cripta Rasponi entitled “Mosaici Contemporanie in Antichi Contesti” or Contemporary Mosaics in Ancient Contexts. Four mosaic artists have been invited to show work inspired by the setting “so as to establish a continuous dialog between the ancient mosaic and the artistic expressions of our days.” In addition, each of the artists is to create a special work devoted to the theme The Four Seasons which will become part of a permanent installation at the Complex of San Nicolo in Ravenna.
Thanks to our friend, Ravenna-based photographer Rosetta Berardi, we are able to view Movimento Immobile just as a visitor to the Cripta Rasponi on a warm Spring day in May would.
Pascale Beauchamps has lived and worked in Brittany for over 30 years. A sculptor and mosaicist, she works almost exclusively in cement and stone. She specializes in one kind of stone in particular: the pebble. – From the brochure for Movimento Immobile
Season of Sun and Wind, Beauchamp’s interpretation of Spring, is destined to become part of the Museum of Ravenna’s permanent collection. It is a stunning work that we could study for hours – preferably out of doors where the passing of time would bring continuous new discoveries.
Her work examines the ambiguity of reality and reconciles artifice with nature: mineral landscapes reconstituted by pebbles taken straight from nature and embedded in cement. Light is fragmented by the rippling textures of the pebbles and their monochrome nuances can be misleading: the cement becomes stone, the pebbles become light.
For this exhibition, Beauchamps enlists the participation of water and glass in her geological landscapes, pushing the ambiguity even further. Light is the leading protagonist, insinuating itself in the gaps between pebbles, giving vibrancy to the grooves in the cement, setting off the contrasts between white and black pebbles, sliding over black water and opaline glass.
In Interior Light, we can see Beauchamp’s genius at exploring ambiguity. Under her deft hand, stone appears light as a feather – something easily born upon the wind – as the pebbles swirl at her command. At the same time, the artist creates rivers of darkness within those swirls as sunlight touches the stones. The definitions of “light” as weight and “light” as illumination are put to question in an elegantly concise way.
Beauchamps has arranged her Organs, with their shaggy texture and stolid shape, in groups of up to 52 in various venues.
Beauchamp’s Crystals glow from within through the artist’s use of shape and color.
These three Sediments were originally part of Beauchamps’ Sacred Concrete exhibit at Saint Quentin Pottery in 2007
In Foldings, we see Beauchamp incorporating the element that she often refers to in glass and stone – water. The element of reflection is introduced and we can imagine that various light treatments to amplify the shapes and direct the eye would create gorgeous new effects.
Pascale Beauchamps is one of contemporary mosaic’s brightest lights and this exhibit in Ravenna is a wonderful marriage of her brilliance and an extraordinary venue. La Cripta will host an exhibit by Valeria Ercolani beginning June 4th (Summer) and Felice Nittolo beginning September 3 (Fall)
We are also excited to learn that Beachamps will be showing with the Italian collective, CaCO3 in Paray-le-Monial, France this July.
Again, we are indebted to Rosetta Berardi for sharing her photos with us. What a delight it is to see these works as they are meant to be seen within the context of the Cripta Rasponi. Ms. Berardi is currently exhibiting “Behind the Face”, a series of portraits exploring the history and allure of the veil. See Resources below.
Enjoy – Nancie
London-based artist Gary Drostle makes stunning public mosaics that quickly become icons for the areas in which they reside. Beyond being an enormously talented artist, Drostle has an almost uncanny knack for capturing the heart of a place in his elegant and intricate designs. In this article, which was originally published in the 2011 edition of Mosaic Art NOW the magazine, we follow Drostle’s process – from design to installation – in the creation of several floor mosaics commissioned by the University of Iowa for their new Wellness Center. The author, Julie Richey, assisted Drostle in several steps of the making of ”The River of Life” and “Movement and Vitality.” Links to additional articles Richey wrote for MAN capturing those experiences and a video interview with Gary during the installation are below. Enjoy –– Nancie
Sonia King’s mosaic palette is a treasure trove of stone and tile, minerals and fossils, crystals and glass, gemstones and seashells. With these materials, King creates whole new worlds and galaxies that are exquisitely crafted and almost magnetic for the viewer.
King’s mosaics beg to be seen up close where the drama of the relationships between disparate materials unfolds and a mosaic “cast of thousands” whispers stories of places unknown.
In the video below, the international award-winning artist talks about why mosaic is her medium of choice for artistic expression, how she came to the art form and what King strives to do with her work. – Enjoy, Nancie
Mosaic artist Sonia King creates one-of-a-kind, contemporary mosaics for gallery, architectural, community and home settings. Her award-winning mosaic art is exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented in private, public and corporate collections. Sonia was awarded special recognition in the 2010 International Prize for Mosaic Art and Architecture in Italy for “Nebula Aqua”. She won two Spectrum Awards for mosaic walls at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and one was featured on the cover of Healthcare Design magazine. She is a founding member and past-President of the Society of American Mosaic Artists and a Vice President of the Associazione Internazionale Mosaicisti Contemporanei. Sonia has been featured on HGTV’s popular show, “Modern Masters” and in numerous books. She instituted the mosaic program at the Creative Arts Center of Dallas and is a Senior Tutor at West Dean College in England. Sonia teaches advanced workshops around the world and is the author of the bestselling book “Mosaic Techniques & Traditions” from Sterling Publishing.
With this article we introduce Ravenna-based art curator, critic, teacher, guide and blogger Luca Maggio who will be a regular contributor here on MAN. In his blog, lucamaggio.wordpress.com, Maggio covers the very center of the emerging Ravenna mosaic scene. His writing is always thought-provoking and we are thrilled to have him aboard. Many thanks to MAN’s Miss Marble, Lillian Sizemore, for the translation. Enjoy – Nancie.
One feature that has always fascinated me about Felice Nittolo’s artistic path is that he is both abstract and essential. Take his youthful and programmatic manifesto of 1984, A-Ritmismo (A-Rhythmism) or the explosive pyrotechnics in his dripping mosaic patterns, or the andamento (flow) of his oblique, mini-cuneiform tesserae (pieces) of Sumerian ancestry which are so neatly ordered and spaced one to the other.
Or even in his choice of three dimensional solids like the sphere and the cone completely covered with mosaic . . .
Or in recent years, the diverse series Vestigia (Remains) in which the work becomes a ghost of itself, memories of the mosaic itself, obscured and almost withheld. These are explorations into lyrical subtleties that – over time – have led to numerous and consistent collaborations with the Japanese world and Zen in particular.
Compare and contrast this work to his forays into the Pop genre. Here, Nittolo’s inherent playfulness is aroused by the symbols of the mainstream Western culture as he experiments with unions of unusual materials. The West’s obsession with designer sneakers and brand name fashion inspired the mosaic coat he created at the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle in the 1990s.
Later, Nittolo would summon Warhol’s Coca-Cola bottles, Nittolo heating and remolding bottles and arranging them on a wall where they would become a series of tesserae themselves, each in turn containing real glass mosaic smalti pieces, much of them red like the logo of the famous soft drink – a singular transaction of assimilation and conceptual exchange between form-color-identity – at the origins of glass – both container and contained.
So, Nittolo must have said, “Why not?” when he was put to the test to make a mosaic art-car for the “Ravenna 1007″ project. Here was another Pop symbol of the 1900s and our time. And not just any old car, but the legendary Fiat 500.
The result has been exhibited both in Tokyo and Turin during the Fiat 500 50th anniversary celebrations and launch of the new model.
But the story does not end here.
Yes, because Nittolo is an artist who not only likes to plunge down the river of creativity, he also likes to head upstream – maybe aboard his Kayak “Pilchuck 2007″, a work almost completely covered with mosaic.
All this demonstrates once again Nittolo’s inspiration, his passion for mixed media and his experimental approach which is free from preconceived notions. He is fully coherent that his idea is “expanded” by mosaic tesserae: ”What is mosaic?” he told me in an old conversation, “a series of pieces, words or parts, a wide variety, ordered not according to a predetermined pattern, but arhythmic.”
The arhythmia – described in his poetic manifesto of 1984 – focuses Nittolo’s work within the interstices, the intervals altogether varied and constant, the spaces filled with air and light, the pieces individually cut in a manner that is never the same but similar – occupying three-dimensional surfaces or wall pieces, often accompanied by a metallic half-moon, a kind of Zen artist’s signature, echoed in the doors of the Fiat 500 and in his small reinterpretations of the mosaics, applying a lightness to the Pop object that is both Eastern and personal.
Speaking of the East, in more than a few works on paper this Eastern influence is present.
Nitollo uses red ink and a special Japanese calligraphy brush to mark out a symbol that is no longer a paint-letter, but the transformation of an ideogram of the symbol-automobile, further influencing the calligraphic gestures, a product of time and concentration and rapid execution – the metaphoric result of Pop.
Kant said, “Art is a serious game,” and Nittolo enjoys multiplying the subject in question onto painted pottery – some small, some large – a kaleidoscope of Fiat 500 multiples, but they are different every time. The mosaic itself, moreover, the tesserae themselves are in this sense, and by their nature, multiples and the work of the artist is to reveal their hidden spirit and latent possibility.
In any case, a small golden Fiat 500 shows up on one of the black Vestigia on an ectoplasmic fixture of washed out memory and faint imprints, here appears a pop of gold – the mini 500 which, in the end, is a ghost of itself, of a model and an era. Today we can say, at least in the collective memory, it’s happy (felice).
Luca Maggio January 14, 2012
NOTE: The text presented here is included in the book Tessere – Words of Glass and Stone (2011, Angelo Longo, Publisher, Grafical Ltd., Printer) and is a partial rewrite of an article regarding Nitollo’s Fiat which also appeared in Luca’s blog on August 26, 2010.
- Website for Felice Nittolo here.
- Tessere: Words of Glass and Stone available through Tabularasa here
- PDF of Nittolo’s paper A-Ritmismo (A-Rhythmism) from 1984 including English translation here
- Luca Maggio’s blog here