Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present Face it!, an exhibition filling the gallery with thousands of drawings by the celebrated Italian architect Andrea Ponsi. A world-renowned urban planner, designer, draftsman, painter, writer, and professor of architectural design, Ponsi articulates his multifaceted ideas on paper and in practice.
When not working on architectural drafts, Ponsi habitually draws faces. Even in his youth, his “school diaries were full of faces.” Decades ago Ponsi found, as he sat in his office on the phone throughout the day, that his restless hands would begin sketching faces on the nearest surface, the ubiquitous post-it note. Utilizing his extensive art historical knowledge, these faces are manifested in a dizzying array of styles, from meticulous studies reminiscent of Daumier or Goya to quick caricatures evocative of Hirschfeld and Steadman. Ponsi is quick to clarify that “none of [the faces] belong to a specific real person,” rather, they are all drawn from his lively imagination. These post-it note sketches, now numbering well over 20,000 in total, have been compiled in the monograph Face it! and exhibited at galleries throughout the country.
For Ponsi, drawing, or “line work” as he terms it, is a foundational element in his life. Architectural drafts, furniture designs, reflective sketches, it is through his sketchbook that he articulates his ideas and visions of the surrounding world. Growing up in Tuscany and spending his university years in Florence provided Ponsi with a rich artistic history to draw from; but it was his subsequent travels throughout Europe, South America, Asia, and more than a decade living in the United States, that helped him craft his personal expression. While his perceptual architectural watercolors espouse a prosaic elegance of form and function, it is the post-it note drawings that offer a decidedly unedited portal into Ponsi’s buzzing mind, melding years of observation and study onto a little yellow square.
Ponsi, whose architectural firm is based in Florence, splits his time between the US and Italy as a visiting professor at numerous universities, currently lecturing at the University of Maryland.