Giusy Pirrotta. Luna Coronata (Crowned Moon)

Giusy Pirrotta. Luna Coronata (Crowned Moon)

In heraldry, the Harpìa is a chimerical figure with woman face and chest, bear ears, vulture body, wings, claws and tail among the many incarnations of the monstrous hybrid, what makes this character particularly fearsome is the fact that it refers to the uncontrollable ferinity from which the ancestral and mysterious power of women originates, one of the most widely celebrated topics in art and literature. For millennia, patriarchal societies have been committed to keeping this subversive potential repressed. It is considered dangerous for the stability of arbitrary rules that derive the appearance of legitimation from a supposed natural order of things, which the dominant ideological orientation from time to time attempts to consecrate as the only possible. But, as nature itself teaches us, our model of social organization is nothing more than the result of a constant negotiation between contrasting forces, each of which when suffocated remains lurking waiting to take over. From this point of view, women’s bodies have always been (i.e. since we talk about civilisation) political bodies, venerated by all cultures for their ability to incubate life, but at the same time objects of coercion and control to avoid the risk of an unwanted and destabilizing female supremacy.

Giusy Pirrotta, “Luna Coronata”, 2024, exhibition view, courtesy CAR Gallery, Bologna

These themes, linked to the interest in a heterodox iconography of women, are the fulcrum of the research of Giusy Pirrotta (born in Reggio Calabria in 1982, lives and works in Rome), a visual artist who, after starting out linked to installations and to video art integrated with sculpture, in recent years has concentrated on the latter medium. In particular, she relied on ceramic sculpture to develop an intense plastic transposition of her personal experience: shaping, firing and glazing the material, moreover with increasing technical refinement, takes on for her a liberating and cathartic value, which is achieved by bringing together her autobiographical existential urgencies in the bed of the magical and pagan amplifications of the reflections on the millenary female subjugation by the community of men. In aesthetic terms, her imagination, poised between the fairy-tale and ethnographic dimension, looks at the past to give continuity to a sort of “rebel matrilineality”, in which Giusy Pirrotta recognizes the most vital aspect of her being in the world as a woman. The sculptures, carried out instinctively starting from graphic sketches, incorporate symbolic elements taken from a syncretism of mythologies coming from every era and culture, which in this melting pot are enriched with new iconographic attributes developed from scratch by her.

Giusy Pirrotta, “Luna Coronata”, 2024, exhibition view, courtesy CAR Gallery, Bologna

The figure of the Harp mentioned at the beginning is the underlying theme of the artist’s solo show currently underway in Bologna at CAR Gallery, which presents the most recent results of her iconological research on the monstrous and diabolical connotations of women representation. The title, Luna Coronata, alludes to the consolidated tradition of the relationship between lunar cycles and women, closely connected to magic and witchcraft, to which the artist adds the adjective “coronata”, taken from the name of a particular eagle species, native to sub-Saharan Africa and now at risk of extinction, so called due to the characteristic feathers erected on the top of the head. The exhibition investigates the border between real and fantastic by exploring the mythopoetic potential of the artist’s language through a setting that experiments with the installation possibilities of ceramics, a medium usually associated with the preciousness of single small pieces. The absolute protagonists of the space are therefore the Crowned Harpy (2024) who welcomes the visitor at the entrance and the tortured sorceress of Tied Hands (2024), giantesses suspended in the void with a floating chenille body, which is evocative of flight, but at the same time catalysts of a tactile experience, which then also extends to the lush glazed ceramic surfaces. The same prodigious oversizing also characterizes The Empress (2024), drawn in black ink on a fabric hung on the wall, a soft and multiform totem in which organs and fragments from different bodies converge, whose symbiosis suggests an unbridled and imaginative fertility.

Giusy Pirrotta, “Teste alberate con uccelli”, 2024, diptych, courtesy CAR Gallery, Bologna

These three supporting characters are surrounded by other smaller sculptures, which multiply their presence or complete their structure from a distance. Tied Hands and The Empress, for example, are equipped, respectively, with fantastic ceramic feet and hands which, although placed in a paratactic position with respect to the main body of the sculptures, do not see the relationship with them weakened at all. The Crowned Harpy, however, is surrounded by what appear to be some of its infinite possible buddings, that is, by minor container-bodies in which the attributes of the mythological figure are added to female sexual characteristics shamelessly exhibited as superficial decoration. Finally, the two Tree-headed heads with birds (2024) that open the exhibition are truly valuable: they are impossible ceramic masks that only a supernatural face could wear, in which the proliferation of sketches of birds on the top of the arboreal concretions alludes to the simultaneous piling up of thoughts. Here the artist’s inventiveness is unleashed in exploring from a compositional point of view the labile border between the informal and the distorting, demonstrating an ease of osmosis between one and the other which, if fully developed, could become the its most characteristic stylistic feature.


Giusy Pirrotta. Luna Coronata
25/05/2024 – 27/07/2024
CAR Gallery
via Azzo Gardino 14/A, Bologna


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