Month: January 2022


Emma Ciceri
A project by Casa Testori
Curated by Gabi Scardi
Produced by Dok Mobile
Castello Sforzesco, Museo della Pietà Rondanini
14 September – 12 October 2021
Casa Testori
9-30 November 2021

On the occasion of Milan Art Week 2021, the Castello Sforzesco Museums, from 14 September to 12 October, presented Nascita Aperta by Emma Ciceri, a Casa Testori project curated by Gabi Scardi
The work – two videos projected simultaneously – was set up in the restored spaces of the former Spanish Hospital, since 2015 home to the Pietà Rondanini Museum.

Nascita Aperta (Open Birth) is the performance that the artist has created with her daughter in front of Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini, the last sculpture he worked on. The daily experience of mother and daughter is that of bodies that, out of necessity, stay close to each other, in many gestures of absolute normality. That daily ritual has been carried and relived by them in long moments spent in front of Michelangelo’s work, where Mother and Son find themselves similarly close in a relationship that binds their bodies into a sculptural unicum. 
«We bring our daily experience of visiting the body of a work: Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini explains Emma Ciceri  We spent time with the sculpture, letting the encounter become what it is for our bodies in the home environment: a possibility of research. In the Pietà Rondanini, the embrace between mother and child creates a vital flow that does not allow us to distinguish where life ends and death begins; the sculpture has become a source of questions for us about the relationship between our bodies, and for us, it has become a source of inspiration». 
«Nascita Aperta is a self-portrait and, at the same time, a metaphor for a relationship in which two lives are inextricably linked», explains the curator Gabi Scardi. «It is also a declaration of adherence to life and form, not for what it must be, but for what it is. In insisting on bodies, gestures, on those rituals of contact and care, Emma Ciceri’s images are objective, explicit, yet interior; interior is the time they impose, going beyond all contingency».
«The relationship between mother and daughter, unveiled by Emma Ciceri in the folds of a touching and intimate humanity, is compared with the image of Mother and Son in Michelangelo’s last work», says Giovanna Mori, Curator of the Museo della Pietà. «The artist expresses herself with confident abandon, managing to highlight the extraordinary topicality of a masterpiece that Michelangelo created without any commission, laying bare her soul».

The work, which consists of two videos projected simultaneously, was set up in one of the restored niches of the former Spanish Hospital. «We are very grateful to the management of Castello Sforzesco for making possible both the realisation of this work of great human and emotional value and its presentation in this space adjacent to Michelangelo’s masterpiece, so beloved by Giovanni Testori», said Giuseppe Frangi, vice-president of Casa Testori, the cultural association that supported the production of Emma Ciceri’s videos.
«Having identified a convergence with respect to the Pietà Rondanini, with its figures dramatically fused even beyond the last breath, shows how culture is constitutive of individual and collective memory, and vice versa, experience, even the most cogent, is substantiated through assimilated, incorporated images» concludes Gabi Scardi.


The Greek sculptor Pygmalion had fallen in love with his own statue, Galatea, to the point of considering her superior to any woman and sleeping next to her. Aphrodite then decided to please him by giving her life. Similarly, Matteo Negri has tried to bring a 1970s Piaggio Vespa to life by making it in bronze and fitting it with a fairing that allows it to pirouette. The Vespa is thus a symbol of freedom, of lightness, and almost seems to dance like a ballerina flying on her own legs.

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Vestiti come una Vespa, 2016, bronze forecast fusion, mechanical engine, iron, wood cm 135x120x240


A floral playing card, a fragment of a garden enclosed in the room where many years ago the artist first exhibited his ceramics at Casa Testori. There are no longer underwater mines to welcome the viewer into the room, there are flowers immersed in lush vegetation. The ceramics thus attempt to compete with the tropical flora, in a continuous regeneration of colours that challenges nature (here controlled and kept alive by sensors and electronic systems), trying to blend in and steal its intimate beauty.

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Cinque di fiori, 2016, selected tropical flora, irrigation digital sensor, water, felt, PVC, engobes on clay, led light cm 200x260x40


Aleppo is a chrome-plated spinning top, hollow inside, with a motor that makes it turn thirty times a minute. It is a work that recounts the vitality and desire for normality of the children of a tormented country like Syria, which is trying to be reborn. Aleppo chromatically narrates the landscape of childhood, constituting a baggage in continuous movement in which colours and play are contained, in a horizon in which the present continues incessantly, sometimes painfully, to knock at the door.

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Aleppo, 2016, environmental installation, mechanical engine, steel, polyester fiberglass, chromed paint, glass colour


Handfuls of letters sown and lost by a big whimsical rolling ball. Words in great freedom and of curious incomprehensible quality. Words like starry skies to be joined with a hyphen. Words like constellations, words to look and see beyond the nose. Words to read without understanding, with your mouth open.

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Delle più belle, le parole, manco a dirle pensano di essere, 2016, environmental installation, silicone mold rubber, wood, Wood neon light, WowPowder


Kamigami is a magic box that amplifies our perception of space and of what lies beyond our physical limits. It is sculpture that can be seen through the keyhole, from which one can perceive the constructive grid and the recursive structure of a brick multiplying to infinity. Kamigami is a mirage that seems real, it is refraction, the creation of an intimate and magical space that playfully transforms the observer into a voyeur.

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Kamigami, 2016, environmental installation, chromed-plated, varnished and galvanised iron, mirror, wood, neon light

WILLIAM CONGDON. 33 dipinti dalla William G. Congdon Foundation

Curated by Davide Dall’Ombra
Palazzo Bisaccioni, Jesi
12 December 2021 – 27 March 2022

The Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Jesi presents an important anthological exhibition of the work of the American painter William Congdon (1912-1998), an exceptional interpreter of the twentieth century whose painting gave a face to the human quest of the short century, thanks to an anthropological investigation that resulted in paintings of great lyrical power, between the city and man-made nature.
The exhibition is a project of the cultural association Casa Testori and presents a collection of works generously made available by the William G. Congdon Foundation – which safeguards the painter’s work – and specially selected by Davide Dall’Ombra, director of Casa Testori.
An exhaustive and unexpected journey of more than 30 paintings, often of large dimensions, conceived for the spaces of Palazzo Bisaccioni: from the New Yorks of the 1940s and the Venices loved and collected by Peggy Guggenheim, to the metaphysical landing place of the Campi arati of the 1980s and 1990s.
The visitor will be able to move his gaze from the disruptive energy of the American language of Action Painting, of which Congdon was an interpreter, through his early experiences of travelling to his chosen cities. Thus the imposing Rome of the Pantheon‘s vestiges comes to terms with an existential representation of architecture, represented by the chasm of the Colosseo or the precariousness of the city of Assisi, crumbling on the hillside.
In the exhibition, Congdon’s “portraiture” of cities is illustrated one after the other by imposing paintings of Istanbul, the Taj Mahal, the human-marked desert of the Sahara and the Santorini chasm.
As a counterpoint to the torments and splendours of civilisations, Congdon descends into the minutiae of existence, crossing the metaphor of the animal which, like nature, must come to terms with the violence of man. It is thus that the cycle of the Tori (bulls) becomes a metaphor for the cruel pursuit, expressed in our traditions, as in the pursuit of our own desires. But even a humiliated, wounded and doomed bull can be – writes Congdon – redeemed by the artist, who eternalizes its greatness and power through painting. From painting as redemption to the human symbol of suffering and resurrection par excellence, the Crocifisso (Crucifix), the step is short. However, the American artist’s approach is never aesthetic or theoretical and his approach to the sacred subject only comes after his tormented conversion to Catholicism.
The move to the south of Milan focuses his point of view on an almost unique subject: cultivated fields. It is in the last twenty years of his life that the research, from spatial, becomes temporal and the power of the earth and its transformations become the protagonists. These are not idyllic visions: the horizon unfolds over the fields and the human process operated on the surface is followed. It is a torment, also of a material nature, that seems to find peace in the Nebbie (Mists) and the monochromes, culminating in the musical lyricism of the vegetation that concludes the exhibition.
Thus, the meditations on George Braque and Nicolas De Staël re-emerge, but above all, the pictorial dialogues with the New York School linked to Betty Parsons’ gallery, which led to the presence of Congdon’s works in the most important American museums and in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.
William Congdon is one of the most profound painters of the 20th century, a naturalised Italian but always American in his artistic attitude. Some of the most important international critics have written about him, including: Clement Greenberg, Jacques Maritain, Giulio Carlo Argan, Giovanni Testori, Peter Selz, Fred Licht, and Massimo Cacciari.

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Monday-Sunday: 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.; 3:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.


Room 10

At the end of the 1980s, Testori was involved in the city’s debate on the construction of the new cemetery in Novate. It was at this time that he produced some small apocalyptic drawings that foreshadowed the dramatic tenor of the last years of his life, marked by illness. Between 1989 and 1993, Testori was in and out of hospital, but this certainly did not dampen his creative vein which, if anything, received even more energy from his fatigue. Thus, in those years, Testori created numerous writings, often only sketched out, but taken up again until his last days. It was in this context that one of his most important works was born, published posthumously: I Tre Lai.

In June 1991, during a hospitalization at the San Raffaele Hospital, the manuscripts record the preparation of a new collection of short stories, entitled Infera Mediolani and, for the occasion, decorated inscriptions and beautiful drawings reappear among the manuscript pages. The theme dear to Testori’s heart since the 1960s thus returns: a beautiful full-page sunset dates from January 1992, while he was convalescing in Varese, and another of his admissions to the San Raffaele, probably in 1993, is a cycle of eight small sunsets on cardboard. Here the impetuous sea of colour, the forcing of forms, the richness of the drawing and the tessellation of the material are concentrated in a few lines which, ploughing through the white, light up to become lighter.


Room 9

La pena,
mio Cristo,
mio re,
la pena di Te
nel disfarsi di rose
sull’onda che calma
La pena di Chi
mi pretende
ed esige totale,
d’ogni altra attrazione
che non sia la fusione
con lei,
la Tua fame,
con chi non ha pane, con chi non ha spazio
né tempo
per dare respiro
al suo cuore,
con chi non ha amore,
ma strazio,
Giovanni Testori, Ossa mea, 1983

A cycle of twenty pastels on the theme of the Cross was begun in 1981. The first eight, of a slightly smaller format than the others, can be dated with certainty to 1981, while the remaining ones may have been produced shortly afterwards. Testori, with a small pen drawing, also indicates a possible arrangement of the drawings, it is not known whether for an exhibition or a volume.


Room 8

«How to decide where they begin and where they end, in these icons that are at once domestic and ritualistic – in these snapshots taken against the backdrop of a memorial duplicity in which the enigmatic solemnity of the biblical sacrifices and the hasty, angry pragmatism of Françoise, the cook at the Recerche, seem to converge, grappling with a “beast” that just won’t die – the domain of horror and that of pity, the province of desire and that of rejection, the domain of condemnation and that of forgiveness? The fact that it is impossible to answer is, I believe, only the confirmation of a complexity that much earlier had been impossible not to intuit and in which the mastery of the sign and the imprint of the masters precipitate, integrating to death – so fraternal, so fatal, these, to become, in a certain sense, even anonymous, to no longer be identifiable, I don’t know, as Courbet or Bacon, but only and in bulk, precisely, as “masters”.»
Giovanni Raboni, 1998

In a continuous technical experimentation, with these works Testori puts watercolour to the test, here used dry to the point of being unrecognisable. Where it is not possible to find the animals to be portrayed in a butcher’s shop, Testori’s work is linked to macabre family anecdotes of black cats killed with a rifle and delivered in a sack to the house in time to make unsuspecting doormen faint, guilty of excessive curiosity.