Alessandro Pessoli, ‘Atomo Che Sogna and Cervia Milano Marittima, 1974’, 2013, TWO x TWO

Pessoli’s recent ceramic sculptures—often arranged in groups or scenes on sculptural pedestals and tables—bear a number of connections. They are reminiscent of teatrini (small theaters) created by artists such as Martini, Melotti, or Fontana, or of Calder’s famous Circus. Pessoli also employs historically weighted materials: bronze and maiolica ceramic, an Italian ceramic technique dating back to the Renaissance characterized by an opaque, white glaze.

“Pessoli fuses classically based tradition with a contemporary creative impulse, formulating a hallucinatory world in which the past is continually reinterpreted and corrupted," says Jenny Gheith, curator of Alessandro Pessoli’s solo exhibition at SFMoMA. Pessoli’s recent ceramic sculptures – often arranged in groups or scenes on sculptural pedestals and tables - bear a number of connections to the tradition Gheith mentions. In part, they are reminiscent of teatrini (small theaters) created by artists such as Martini, Melotti, or Fontana, or of Calder’s famous Circus. Pessoli also employs historically-weighted materials: bronze and maiolica ceramic, an Italian ceramic technique dating back to the Renaissance characterized by an opaque, white glaze. Here, the resulting work conjures a childlike, poetic vignette with a distinct sense of melancholy, perhaps related to Cervia, Pessoli’s birthplace referenced in the title. Pessoliʼs work has been shown in numerous exhibitions, including solo shows at the Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia; MACRO Museo d´Arte Contemporanea Roma; and Chisenhale Gallery, London. His work was prominently featured in Italics: Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution, 1968-2008 at the Palazzo Grassi, Venice, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. A set of 30 drawings was included in the 2009 Venice Biennale as part of the Making Worlds section curated by Daniel Birnbaum.

About Alessandro Pessoli

In painting, drawing, collage, and sculpture, Alessandro Pessoli has built a distinctive cast of characters that are at once heroic, tragic, earnest, and comic. Pessoli alludes to religious symbols—crucifixes and familiar classical arrangements like the nativity or annunciation—mixed with sexual symbols to create enigmatic narratives. With titles like The Musician (2010) and The Blue Bitch (2010), Pessoli’s small-scale, highly abstracted ceramics include familiar objects like a candle, a window, or a face, realizing many of Pessoli’s formal concerns three-dimensionally.

Italian, b. 1963, Cervia, Italy, based in Milan, Italy