Curated by: Nicola Falcone, Andrea Villani
The Donnaregina Foundation for Contemporary Arts presents La Chessboard Impossible , a personal exhibition by the Campania master of ceramic art Raffaele Falcone (Montecorvino Rovella, 1956), curated by Valerio Falcone and Andrea Viliani. The exhibition project, created in collaboration with Fornace Falcone, will constitute the first stage of the celebrations of the 100 years of activity of the Fornace, which will see the ceramic works at the center of three exhibitions in three Italian contemporary art museums.
Dedicated to the production of works that testify to the wise respect of the artisan tradition and, at the same time, its crossing and its reinvention, both from a technical and an ideational point of view, the author seeks the possible uniqueness and individual significance of the single artifact ("handmade"). Falcone's ceramic works are subtracted from the categories of serial repetition or practical use when they impose themselves as ongoing reflections on the very idea of "work of art": those of Falcone are therefore always unique pieces, such as the 32 elements that make up The Impossible Chessboard, exhibited in the Sala delle Colonne on the first floor of the Madre.
The work required a conception and a production articulated over time, supporting the extended temporality and patience of ceramic art. In 2011, on the occasion of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, Falcone created the first element of his chessboard, presented on the occasion of Italia 150 °, a group exhibition at the OGR-Officine Grandi Riparazioni in Turin dedicated to originals of artisan origin and Italian excellence in this productive and creative sector. The first of Falcone's 32 chess pieces appeases the artist's desire to investigate the fascinating intrigue suggested by the shape of an object, which is denied the functional destination precisely to bring out the aesthetic and cognitive peculiarities intrinsic in the ceramic material and its articulated manual processing processes.
This and the subsequent majolica works of La Scacchiera Impossible are made with the "colombino" technique: although it allows to model any shape - even and above all, as in this case, the most imposing and complex - it needs on the part of the author of an exercise in precision and dedication, which originates from the very treatment of the clay slab. The "colombini" are the long rolls that are superimposed and attached one on top of the other, working from the base until they reach the desired heights and features, before cooking in the oven at 970 ° or, as for some of the elements that make up La Scacchiera Impossible, before finishing with “third fire” fired metallic luster.
All the works on display were produced at the workshop inaugurated by Raffaele Falcone in 1987 in Montecorvino Rovella, heir to the family business founded in 1923, which in 2023 will celebrate its centenary. Over the years Fornace Falcone has represented one of the most important Italian companies for the restoration of ancient terracotta (including the roofing and flooring of the domus of Pompeii and Paestum, the Museum and Real Bosco di Capodimonte, the Royal Palace of Caserta and the Royal Silk Factory of San Leucio, at the Certosa di San Lorenzo in Padula, in the Sassi di Matera) and in the production of ceramic works by artists such as, among others, Riccardo Dalisi, Piero Dorazio, Gillo Dorfles, Mimmo Paladino, Achille Perilli and Luigi Ontani. As the critic and curator Achille Bonito Oliva writes: “Ceramic is the aristocracy of sculpture, as Lucio Fontana affirms. Raffaele Falcone's work and the entire production of Fornace Falcone are the happy demonstration of this ”(Achille Bonito Oliva, January 2020).
The chessboard produced by Raffaele Falcone for the Madre museum, which the artist defines as not only impossible but also insane, is born as if from the "mother earth", with its breaths, flows and energy fields, placing itself in a fragile space-time and suspended between reality and the symbol: even the ceramist, "like any sculptor ... can give life to matter", declares Falcone and, in the case of ceramics, this happens through the transformation of a particularly fragile and delicate material. By defining a work that can be interpreted as an attempt to resist time, to reformulate space, to re-create natural matter, and as a dissemination of fascinating signs that represent the very possibility of not limiting oneself to one's own experience, but of opening up and welcoming in it the multiple and changing existences of living matter and anthropological knowledge, which it returns through the “hand made” of the artist-ceramist.