He was “global long before the world was globalized”, mestizo by birth and then by culture, he devised a syncretic artistic language in which he merged European modernity, surrealist influences, Afro-Cuban culture and tropical references: Wifredo Lam (Sagua la Grande 1902 – Paris 1982) has a very special place in the history of twentieth-century art. A tireless, almost nomadic traveller, he chose Albissola Marina as his permanent refuge in the early 1960s, a period in which the town was transformed into an effervescent international artistic laboratory, grafting contemporary art onto an age-old ceramic tradition, capable of renewing itself modern era.
Lam’s work, alongside that of other artists who have chosen this land of Liguria as a theater of experimentation, will be at the center of the exhibition Lam et les Magiciens de la Mer. Totems, primordial figures and signs in the Ceramics of Albisola between the years 50s and 70s, scheduled from June 2nd to September 10th 2023, in the double location of the Museum of Ceramics of Savona and the MuDA Exhibition Center in Albissola Marina.
The evocative title, Lam et les Magiciens de la Mer, deliberately recalls the Magiciens de la Terre exhibition held at the Center Pompidou in Paris in 1989. The Parisian exhibition was intended to involve artists from five continents, challenging the alleged Western cultural supremacy , through discussions open to subjects usually excluded from the European and American institutional circuit. Lam et les Magiciens de la Mer takes its cue from this reflection and translates it into a very particular context – and place – for the history of Italian and international art.
The works of these artists, many of which are unpublished and of exceptional value, will be displayed in the two museums through thematic itineraries inspired by the macro-themes Totems, Animals, Metamorphoses and Signs.
A part of the exhibition, with the title Lam entre Mares. De Albisola in Havana, will later be presented at the Museo Nacional de la Cerámica Contemporánea Cubana in Havana (December 2023-March 2024), curated by Surysday Reies Martynez.
We are in that dynamic season which, after the Second World War, sees the Albisole become an international meeting place for Italian and European artists, critics, collectors and art dealers; moment in which many painters and sculptors begin to address the themes of totemism, metamorphosis, the mysterious and generating force of myths and supernatural spirits.
The arrival in Albissola Marina of Wifredo Lam, invited in 1954 by the Danish artist Asger Jorn, is not accidental and will have a strong impact on the territory. Starting from its definitive transfer in 1961, in fact, the vital forces of nature, the primordial spirits, the animal and shamanic totemic figures begin to proliferate on vases, plates, plates and reliefs created at a rapid pace by Lam at Ceramiche San Giorgio.
Simultaneously, similar themes appear in the works of other artists who gravitated around the Albisola ceramic workshops, starting with the famous Ceramiche Mazzotti (which this year celebrates its 120th anniversary, also celebrated by a dedicated project room inside the Museum of Ceramics in Savona ): this is the case of Enrico Baj, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Roberto Crippa, Ansgar Elde, Lucio Fontana, Franco Garelli, Asger Jorn, Maria Papa Rostkowska, Mario Rossello, Rinaldo Rossello and Eva Sørensen.
These are then “the magicians of the sea“: artists – Lam in the lead – who in Albisola have turned their attention to totemic figures, to zoomorphic and anthropomorphic beings, to the primordial forces of matter and to essential gestures that bring marks, holes and scratches on of it. And wizards are also the master craftsmen of Albisola, capable at the time of incredible material and color effects, and who still today preserve and generously hand down the techniques needed to mould, cook and decorate clay.
Artists who have chosen “the suburbs instead of the large metropolitan centres, an (international) microcosm, provincial but imbued with art, ingenuity, thought and dexterity, where artisans and artists crowding furnaces, factories, studios, seaside resorts, art galleries – even improvised ones in restaurants and cafés – speak the common language of ceramics, made of plastic, processes, expectations, colors and sharing. With the Mediterranean wave crashing incessantly on the shoreline, hugging the village and its inhabitants against the hill”, explain two of the curators of the exhibition, Luca Bochicchio and Stella Cattaneo, in the catalog created for the occasion and published by Electa.
Lam et les Magiciens de la Mer
Totem Figures and primordial Signs in Albisola Ceramics between the 50s and 70s
Museum of Ceramics of Savona and MuDA Exhibition Center – Albissola Marina
June 2 / September 10, 2023
Project and concept Luca Bochicchio
Curated by Luca Bochicchio, Stella Cattaneo and Daniele Panucci
Technical assistance and mediation Alessio Cotena, Marco Isaia, Donatella Ventura
Graphic and exhibition project Giulia Gaggero and Davide Servente (gaggeroservente)
The project is promoted by the Fondazione Museo della Ceramica di Savona and by the Municipality of Albissola Marina, with the support of the Fondazione De Mari, the scientific contribution of Estate Lam and the patronage of the Museo Nacional de la Cerámica Contemporánea Cubana, of the Oficina del Historiador, and of the Municipalities of Savona and Albisola Superiore.
Video on show:
Centro Esposizioni MuDA-Museo Diffuso Albisola – Wilfredo Lam poussière d’étoiles, by Barbro Schultz Lundestam, Les Editions Publialp & Les Studios Win Win – www.collectionphares.com
Museo della Ceramica di Savona – Wifredo Lam | Tate Shot, Produced on the occasion of “The EY Exhibition Wifredo Lam, Tate Modern, September 2016-January 2017, Courtesy of Tate © Tate, 2023 – www.tate.org.uk
Museo della Ceramica di Savona
via Aonzo 9, Savona
June, August and September
Fridays and Saturdays 9.30-13; 16-19
Friday and Saturday 9.30-13; 16-19
MuDa Albissola Marina
via dell’Oratorio, Albissola Marina
From Tuesday to Sunday 10.00 – 12.00 / 17.00 – 19.00