This is, in the ancient monastery, the first-ever solo show of a living artist
FRAGMENTS OF MEDIEVAL FRESCOES
AND SCULPTURES ARE DISPLAYED
TOGETHER WITH WW2 HELMETS AND ARMS
The name Franca Pisani (b. 1956) has chosen for her exhibition, “Succisa virescit. La forza della rinascita” (Succisa virescit. The Power of Rebirth), embeds the Latin motto that is engraved on the emblem of the Abbey of Monte Cassino, and brings in ideas of strength and hope (Succisa virescit means “Cut off, it sprouts up again”). This is another important event in the career of the artist, who has exhibited her works at three editions of the Venice Biennale (2009, 2011, 2017) and at Milan Expo (2015), and who has had her first solo show at Macro Testaccio, in Rome, in 2017.
During WW2, the Germans and the allied army fought in Monte Cassino and the Abbey was ravaged by bombings in 1944; then, it was rebuilt. Franca Pisani’s choice of this place, which is so full of history, is one of the many events that are being organised on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the destruction of the Abbey. This is the first time the Museum of the Abbey houses an exhibition by a living artist. The exhibition project is curated by Roberto Capitanio and consists in three different installations that focus on such themes as the strength of life, rebirth and the redeeming power of art.
The first is called Il giardino di pietra (The Stone Garden) and brings to light some remains dating back to the bombings, which were preserved in the storage rooms of the Abbey. These ancient fragments of art and history have become the object of a contemporary reinterpretation: they re-emerge from the oblivion and encourage the public to reflect on their meaning. Pieces of medieval frescoes, broken stone hands and arms, heads of Saints, and helmets and arms from the battle of Monte Cassino, are scattered on some teleri (very large canvases) that have been spread on the floor and hanged in front of some blow ups. In this way, the objects that lie on the floor seem to have been dragged upwards, as if they yearned for peace and light, in an anthem that celebrates the rebirth of life.
The second installation is called Transparencies: 30 works on Lyon silk by the artist have been hanged in front of black-and-white blow ups of dreadful war episodes and look like coloured flags of peace. In these paintings, which recall the subjects of the blow ups, Pisani creates highly intense and engaging images through strokes and gestures that, besides referring to cave painting, reveal apotropaic meanings. The special transparency of silk allows the observer to see the blow ups behind the fabric and casts beauty and hope on those gloomy images of destruction.
The third installation, which is made of wood and marble and is called Pietra Splendente (Shining Stone), ends the exhibition. An ash tree that was uprooted during a violent storm is surrounded by a finely decorated, white marble cylinder to represent human creativity. The two materials fuse together in an embrace that speaks of rebirth: the power of art gives new life to what was destroyed by nature, and turns it into a symbol of life.
Sonia Lucia Malfatti
LA FORZA DELLA RINASCITA
ABBAZIA DI MONTECASSINO
IL GIARDINO DI PIETRA