Postcard from Merida, Mexico: Incorrigible cats and other fine ‘arte popular’

arte popular merida

Okay, the blog obviously has left Italy. Am diving you straight into Merida in the Yucatan for a dose of fine contemporary folk art from throughout Central and South America, but primarily Mexico, from the collection of Fomento Cultural Banamex, Citibanamex. Click HERE to see additional photos and read the entire post.

Postcards from Naples, Italy: Palazzo adapted to showcase contemporary art

Mimmo Paladino, 2006 rooftop installation at MADRE

The 19th-century Palazzo Donnaregina, referred to as “an example of historical stratification,” was purchased in 2005 by the Campania Regional Government for rehabilitation as a contemporary art museum. Much of the work was completed under the guidance of Alvaro Siza Veira, a Portuguese architect. By 2006, two floors of MADRE – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina – opened to the public. Daniel Buren’s brightly colored and illuminated installation in the entryway of MADRE sets the tone for the contemporary contents.

When we were there this past fall, there was an impressive exhibition of work, “Whisper Only To You,” by a South Korean artist, Yeesookyung. During her residency in Naples, she incorporated pieces of Capodimonte porcelain into the design of her large shapely vessels.

The master potter was trying to create the perfect piece each time, and he would discard even the ones with the slightest flaw. So I chose to create new forms from them, because perhaps, I don’t believe completely in that kind of perfection. To me, a piece of broken ceramic finds another piece, and they come to rely on one another. The cracks between them symbolise the wound.

Yeesookyung, interviewed in The Business Times, 2013

Postcard from Sevilla, Spain: The celebrated potters of Triana

“Saints Justa and Rufina” (detail above) by Francisco de Goya hangs in the Cathedral of Seville.

The most revered potters of Seville made their living in the area known as Triana in the third century – Santa Justa and Santa Rufina. During a festival, the sisters purportedly refused to sell any of their wares for use in pagan celebrations. In anger, those who had been refused service broke all of the pair’s ceramics. And, in the spirit of an eye for an eye, the sisters retaliated by smashing a statue of Venus.

The city’s prefect imprisoned the sisters and demanded they renounce their Christian beliefs. They refused, so their deprivation of food and water and various stages of torture began. Barefoot marches, the rack, hooks. Their faith remained steadfast.

Justa finally starved to death, and still Rufina refused to surrender to the prefect’s demands. Rufina was cast into the public amphitheater with a lion, but the fierce lion supposedly demurred attacking and purred at her instead. The frustrated prefect finally resorted to beheading, a method that proved effective at ending Rufina’s life.

With clay from nearby Isla de Cartuja, the Triana neighborhood on the left bank of the river remained Seville’s center for ceramics and azulejos for centuries. In 2014, the former Ceramica Santa Ana factory reopened as the Centro Ceramica Triana. The museum traces the regional history of tiles from the earliest known examples through the 20th-century.