Opening Reception Friday, July 28th from 6-8 pm
Figure Out: Catastrophe or Regeneration by Paolo Porelli
Figure Out is the most recent project produced in the United States by Italian artist Paolo Porelli in two residency periods, at Arch Contemporary in Tiverton, Rhode Island in 2019/20, and at The Clay Studio of Philadelphia in 2022. At the Holter Museum, Porelli presents a sculptural group of about 60 ceramic “figurines” that reveal a great deal about the reality of the times in which we live but that are cognizant of how to go beyond and enter the timeless dimension of myth and archetype. The title “Figure Out” plays with the word “figure” and its significance of “representing”, “understanding”, but also with the way in which the figures in the installation come out of the wall to offer themselves to the viewer.
Catastrophe or Regeneration is the crossroads at which we find ourselves as inhabitants of a world that we are transforming and driving to the brink of an ecological apocalypse that could either have catastrophic effects or could virtuously reverse the degenerative process and launch a new regenerative phase that could bring humanity back towards more sustainable goals for mankind and nature.
The sculptures originate from a 3D model that was replicated by slip-casting. Each stereotype has undergone a process of expressive transformation which personalizes the serial figure into a new individual subject. Chromatically, an extensive color palette was utilized, demonstrating all the aesthetic possibilities of ceramics.
The figures on display convey two parallel meanings that belong to antithetical but complementary symbolic categories. One part represents the phenomena which, due to their excess, are leading to catastrophe: production, consumption, raw materials, profit, quantity, combustion. Personifications of regeneration appear in the other part: natural phenomena, biological dynamics, organic matter, plant forms, fertility, humidity. As in the cosmic balance, destructive and generating forces co-exist, just as in traditional, ancient representations of archaic divinities of all the civilizations of the world.
The figurines attempt to represent the variety of human behavior, traversing opposite poles of existence. In the natural order of things, there are complementary opposing forces, some generating and others destructive. This concept is at the very foundation of life but there must be a balance. One must not prevail over the other. The impact of human activity on nature is reaching the limit of sustainability and potentially creating an irreversible imbalance. Will there be a catastrophe, or will we be able to initiate a regeneration? This is the question that concerns each of us and that none of us can ignore.
Paolo Porelli, painter/sculptor, Rome 1966.
After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, Porelli began a period of experimentation in ceramics in which he identified an anthropomorphic figure as his preferred expressive form to provide the access to an archetypal dimension of reality, interpreting the critical behaviors of contemporary man and their consequences on the environment. The figures express the condensation of a visual language contaminated by surrealistic solutions, Pop proliferation and archaic symbolism. By amalgamating historical-artistic memory with present experience, he configures an imaginary representative of a hypothetical mythology of our days.
Porelli has participated in artist residencies and conferences in America, China and Europe, including The Clay Studio and The Archie Bray Foundation in the United States, Jingdezhen International Studio and Blanc de Chine ICAA in China, EKCW in the Netherlands and Woodman Family Foundation in Italy. He has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Italy and abroad (China, South Korea, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the USA). Together with Lori-Ann Touchette he founded CRETA Rome, an international center of ceramics and the arts in 2012. In 2021, he was elected a member of the International Academy of Ceramics.