Protestant Madonnas is a project created by the artist Paolo Porelli during a residence in the Netherlands between 2018 and 2019, set up for the first time at the Firma van Drie Gallery in Gouda, subsequently at “Èthos Keramikos 2022” at the Palazzo Doebbing Museum in Sutri and installed in Faenza at the Ridotto of the Masini Theater during Argillà 2022.
The artist has created a series of Madonnas, starting from a cast of the model of the Madonna of Civitavecchia, on which the artist has intervened, transforming them and changing their meaning.
“In 2018-2019 I was at the EKWC (European Ceramic Work Center) in the Netherlands, a technologically advanced international center for ceramic processing. For the first time, I had the opportunity to stay in a FabLab with a specialized technician who introduced me to the use of 3D printing and scanning for the creation of casts.
From the new model shaped by the printer, I made a plaster cast, from which the casting of the stoneware slip began, molding up to more than two hundred figures.
Each figure obtained from the mold still in its fresh state has been transformed with plastic interventions that I have operated using an infinite number of manipulative actions that changed the serial stereotype into a new sculptural subject.
I had rationalized that all started from a specific model of Madonna but being and working in a land of Protestant religion I purposely used the orange color of the Orange, ruling house of the Netherlands and I did nothing but put the two things together. Thus, were born the “Protestant Madonnas”.
Playing with words, the madonnas who protest, like rebellious non-madonna women, become mad-women, mindful of the mad mothers of Martini and Fontana, with all the holes, cuts and crossings of dimensions that project the sculptures into a spatial and temporal infinity. Thus, the Protestant Madonnas pass from the gesture of disfigurement to the gesture of pitiful suffering expressed by the Madonna of the Seven Sorrows where the Virgin takes upon herself, like her son, the sins of the world and its wounds. Or, finally, the Protestant Madonnas present themselves as a renewed and inexhaustible creative gesture, liberator of saving energies and metaphors without mental or religious limits that would be a brake on their natural understanding.”
Graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, Porelli uses ceramics as a medium through which reaching a personal research that identifies an anthropomorphic figure with which he provides access to an archetypal dimension of reality, interpreting human’s behavior and the consequences on the environment.
His figures express the condensation of a visual language contaminated by surrealistic solutions, Pop proliferation and archaic symbolism, generating a representative imagery 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 Archie Bray in the US, 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). In 2012, together with the art historian Lori-Ann Touchette, he founded C.R.E.T.A. Rome, an international center of ceramics. In 2021 he was elected a member of the International Academy of Ceramics.