Ceramic Arts & Perception — Ceramics Technical
Ceramics Art & Perception

Mirta Morigi Thirty Years of her Bottega

Article by Sandro Bassi

THE MORIGI BOTTEGA IS IN ITS 30TH YEAR. THIRTY years of furious volcanic activity and pirotecnics. Thirty years of unconventional, untraditional, sometimes ironic, impertinent and naively proud ceramics. We have said ‘untraditional’, but this concept isn’t as simple as that. Mirta Morigi has come from tradition – inevitable for a Faentino – refusing to become lost in the dull repetition of tradition. Morigi has embraced tradition and revolted, she has chewed it up and spit it out, celebrated it and protested it, deformed it, contaminated it; she has used it as an educated reference to the ‘grotesque’ friezes of renaissance maiolica and inserted it in disconcerting protest that reminds us of a true and real inlay (who doesn’t remember the rectangular ‘strips’, with the 6th century decorations visible in the middle of a white background, perhaps with a curled border and a corner left bare, without glaze, revealing the intimate nature of the material – clay?). Like a jazz piece, Morigi mixes classical style with improvisation, dissonance with poetry, elegant tradition with sentimental pottery. It has been more instinctive than meditated, resulting from a stream of consciousness, not academia, that has defined her ceramics as ‘currently traditional’: this paradox is one that recurs when one wants to express a little of the charm that, often, contradicts itself. Then, Morigi, after having played for years with tradition, has abandoned it to follow new paths always closer to fun and desecration than the restrictions of the classic Faenza maiolica.

But the capacity to combine such diverse elements appears to be a constant route for Morigi, as her workshop maintains its roots in tradition, while the investigation and purposes of her work are contemporary; the figure of ‘maestro’ is intertwined with the style of the apprentice, not unlike those of the medieval and renaissance studios. The nature of the objects doesn’t respond to a precise market demand, but rather to messages that, from time to time, often profoundly come from the heart, from arrogance and rationalitythat translate themselves in the execution. Morigi continues in her diverse method of working with ceramics – using all that goes through her mind beyond that which is requested (from fittings and furnishings to architecture: whether for a house or an inn, for a cruise ship or a public building, or for a town square or a simple shop).

She has also used vernacular language and suggestive propositions until the ’90s – with text written in the dialect of her region, copulating animal and bittersweet discourses that range from humorous to dramatic – Mirta Morigi always continues to maintain her noble detachment and shows us that using bad words can also be poetic.

We are also reminded of her bizarre creatures: chameleons and frogs, lizards and salamanders that usually live in the mud anyway and that here, instead, have been elevated as the elements of vessels, camouflaged as handles or else sprouting here and there with the pride of a prehistoric animal.

Sandro Bassi is an art critic from Faenza, Italy. Translated by Julie Shanks.

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