Rita Ippaso (Trapani, 1936).
Of a Sicilian birth but with an Abruzzo adoption, Rita Ippaso has been a resident in the city of Chieti in Italy for many years after living in England. In her formation of painter and ceramist, she enrolls at the Universita’ Orientale of Naples and at the l’Instituo Statale d’Arte of Chieti. Since 1980 she has been undertaking the ceramic courses held in Great Britain at the Loughborough University, at Rowlins College and at Burleigh College, while in Palermo, at the Accademia di Belle Arti, she has attended the courses of engraving technique when her pictorial and sculptural activity was already consolidated. Her exhibition activity starts in 1974 with a personal exhibition at the Bottega d’Arte di Chieti, continuing in different cities and taking part in qualified group art competitions in Italy and abroad. She lives and works between Chieti and Pescara.
PRESENTATION BY MARIA CRISTINA RICCIARDI
Rita Ippaso On The Path
“At the beginning of my artistic activity, I painted the”prefiche”, the Sicilian women who complained and cried behind the funeral of perfect strangers. I was talking about the conditioning that women suffered as a result of their culture. Empty houses where the silence dominated, nude women, covered by a male hat. Infinite men’s hats. Then still dreams, illusions, sorrows, love. Unreal brides with their bouquet of flowers. Long waits, waiting for dreams that were not realized. Memories of happiness. And finally I started the journey … »
Each trip starts from one place. And the starting point of the artistic journey of Rita Ippaso coincides with the story of a beautiful girl, then twenty years old, and from an a very special island which is the perfect epicenter of atmospheres and memories, a favorite place for that feeling of mediterraneanism, outlining between myth and history. But in the 1950’s, for a young woman, such as Rita Ippaso, to live in Trapani, in the so-called “city between the two seas”, also meant keeping in touch with the family role and the heavy conditioning of the social context. In particular, the man’s subordination, secularly encoded in constraints and restraints, in the indifference and silence of the domestic walls. To the woman – as Sciascia teaches us – the prerogative, of an elder, of a matriarchal subterranean, or, of mother-in-law, the power of control over her daughter-in-law, with which she had reiterated how she had suffered when she was young.
From this premise, from the perception of a female malaise that makes her feel inadequate towards what others expect from her, she overlooks, through the art, the necessity and the conviction of “going beyond”. This is the first step – if it is true, as someone has written, that the first step towards freedom is to see “chains” – a long journey of emancipation from the male control that is accomplished, not without difficulty, through the force of the expressive urgency that exactly the art requirement offers to her:
“Art was a gift given to me – the artist has repeated to me – a great gift received, like the love of my children and the affection of those who understood how important my work was for my life.”
The language processing, as a space of invention and creativity, as a possible alternative to affirming its own world experience, it is born through painting, then to encounter in the molded plastic and in the calcography the perfect completion of the same thought. The gradual conquest of technical mastery grows together with the curiosity of creating something that resembles the vision of the surrounding reality. In the recurring themes, starting from the “prefiche” (Sicialian women) without face, professional of crying and icons par excellence of a stage fiction, we find, both in the painting and in the sculpture, the pictorial transfiguration of women in domestic birds, mostly young geeses, as in Papera (1991 ), Which, on the one hand call us the “ducks – women” from the Boccaccio’s novel, on the other hand they refer to the small and narrow world of a courtyard, to a compressed emotional perimeter that looks for a different space possibility. From here are also the first “Bambine” in terracotta, such as Bambina (1990), where the artist seeks, in the physicality of the model, a fuller outflow to her “to do”, still pervading a feeling of pain and impotence. Girls with big flakes in the head, like in the polychrome ceramics Ragazza (2012), Busto di Ragazza and Ragazza, from the following year, recalling the remembrance of the orphans involved from the “prefiche” to amplify the theatrical effect of a true parody of the pain .
At the shape of the figure, the artist often associates the spherical shape of a globe, as in Bambino (2013), a metaphor of a complex “game”, that of passions and of all matters pertaining to being in the world, including the lightness of thought that bounces and flies beyond the visible. Spheres that were born in painting in the mid-seventies in works such as Donna e Mela and Autoritratto (Self-Portrait), associated with the soul, to the motherhood, to the life, and that in the years to come they assume the appearance of translucent chromatic discs, floating in the air as soap bubbles, and until it becomes a real presence that imposes more than the physicality of the depicted bodies, as in the great canvas Famiglia, from 1986. And then there are the poor brides of Bouquet (1983), San Giovanni of the Eremiti (1992), Sposi (2008), who have been in her paintings and in her beautiful watercolor graphics and watercolor etchings since the seventies, together with the repeated presence of the men’s hats, as in Donna and Cappello (1976 ), A clear symbol of a clear male dominance. Like the young brides, with their dreams and their illusions, even in the “Bambine” series, the artist puts an emphasis on their nature of unseen creatures of the future that awaits them. And here is the umbrella theme, which is also constantly present in her production, as in the recent Gallo Rosso (2013), to evoke the idea of protection, to protect against the most frightening things. The inevitable feelings of anxiety and fear take on the appearance of fierce animals, occurring in the plastic mass of a large black bird or in that of a big red bull, as in Paura, painted in the mid-1990’s.
Visions of horrible threats that over the years she learns to bring back, to put back in the order of things. Hence the faunistic world that connotes works made during the years 2009-2010: lions, leopards, elephants, ostriches, pictorial pretext and own memories from her world travels, such as the journey accomplished in Africa, after which the artist renews her pictorial perception of light and color, with some regret, perhaps, that she had not been able to grasp it many years before while being in her Sicilian land. Archetipical symbolic correspondence, the image of fish is so much used in her paintings and in her sculptures, as in the large size Sott’Acqua (2011) and Navigando (2013) and in the plastic of Pesce (2012), as well as in numerous dishes and vases formed in the white paste, to the chromatic texture of the bodies of her “Ragazzine”. A theme that, coupled with the natural element of water, brings us back to an idea of life and of fertility, as early Christian iconography teaches us. If the fish are metaphor of her intimate need for a spiritual redemption, the repeated reproduction of birds, bridges between the earth and the sky, becomes for Rita Ippaso the projection of her own ideas and thoughts that sometimes wander without aim, from a shore to the other side of the sky. We think of valuable works such as the ceramic pot Uccello (1983), in which the volatility is harmonized with the astral form of the disc, and to the sculputers of the Colomba (2007) and Uccelli (1992), and to numerous paintings, both from the past time as Waiting (1990), and from her recent productions such as Uccelli, Uccelli in Volo, Volo (2013).
True art is definitely a persistent fuel, capable of generating a fire that the artist carries always within himself or herself and always, something with which he or she must do, also on his or her despite , to do the counts. So, for Rita Ippaso, the daily and mental world coincides totally with the idea of the artistic creation, a vein of veils with which she has been able to carry on her idea of painting and modelling in ceramics, step by step, day after day, on the path of her life. There is therefore no more effective metaphor for the semblance of the angel to point out the guardian of a “gift”, so unique and special, entrusting precisely to the angelic representation the possibility to correspond with the mystery that dwells within and inside the artistic invention. Hence a series of works, oil paintings and white carving sculptures, from the surface vividly treated by the engravings and by the oxide chromium, where the presence of the angel poses as the comfort and guidance of their tiring journey: Angeli a Cavalli, guardians of the infinite presence that lives in the life of us all. Animals and landscapes, figures and landscapes, come back as the themes of her latest paintings where everything harmonizes, where the monsters of a time have finally disappeared to leave room for mnemonic images settled over time, visions that no longer injure, harmless with their static masses dropped in the Mediterranean light, restored to the green vision of dense and unbroken vegetation.
At the basis of the invention of her language, which is a specific voice of the artist and a connotation of her stylistic recognition, there is a chromatic search on some dominant tones that already originate as a vital overcoming of the naturalistic vision, in a continuum of physical and emotional tension: yellow acids, light blues, vibrant and vital reds coral, visual synthesis of hot and cold dominant, a balance achieved in the silent concentration of so much work, as it synthesizes the white balloon, great poetic power, of Innocence.
We face a painting that excludes the quick gesture, the notion of randomness. Everything is thought, sedimented, reflected in rigor, in the necessary detachment that the artist impresses on the things seen because what enters in the picture is already another story, with an entire life, an otherwise impossible existence. This is the sense of works like Memorie, a large canvas from 2010. It’s a long and easy walk, in which the artist, fought for other reasons, felt more than once pushed from one shore to the other, with the feeling that there is no progress (Da una Riva all’Altra, 2011). In fact, the progress of her journey does not look to linear progression but to the achievement of pictorial ability to succeed in transmitting the inner life of the figures, beyond their external appearance. Between doubts and uncertainties, reassurance and conviction. Because what matters is to keep on walking, to keep listening to your voices, to be there. And here’s the dynamic charm of Bicicletta, like in Coppia (1993), Ragazzo in Bicicletta (2010), Donna in Bicicletta (2011), or of her boats ferrying to our eyes in the obvious instability of the world.
There is everything a figurative universe that returns in its enlightened journeys by the fantasy and by the reality and it does not matter if certain themes or certain allusions recur continuously, yesterday as today, constituting almost a leitmotif. For Rita Ippaso to create continues to be a liberating act and I believe that no one else can do without it.
* Maria Cristina Ricciardi – Art Critic *
As a critic of Art, Maria Cristina Ricciardi has for years been paying particular attention to the expressions of contemporary Italian painting and sculpture, and her knowledge of the artistic situation in Abruzzo, through the publication of numerous critical contributions to the work of artists born and working in Abruzzo. Of great interest is the writing of critical essays on national artists. She has organized numerous contemporary art exhibitions in Italy and abroad, in collaboration with the Italian Culture Institutes (Berlin, London, Miami), and has organized cultural and public events at public and private venues, participating in scientific committees of cultural and patronage projects from Foundations and from Public Bodies.