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  • Sabrina Pasquale&Ilaria Sferrazza

Una zoografia per Pinocchio

During the launch of the volume Una zoografia per Pinocchio. Disegni di Filippo Sassòli 2009-2019, Edifir Edizioni, Firenze 2019, on Tuesday, November 7, 2019 at the Istituto Centrale per la Grafica in Rome, the curators of the exhibition participated together in a conversation with experts in the field of graphic art and with scholars who supported the artist’s work in recent years.

Ars Graphica Roma team was pleased to take part to this event. We had the opportunity to admire the 35 drawings created by Sassòli during ten years and exhibited in the halls of the Istituto Centrale per la Grafica from September 19 to November 10, 2019 (previously, between March and May 2019, in Pisa at the Museo della Grafica). The series is inspired by Pinocchio, the well-known novel for children written by the Italian author Carlo Collodi (pen name of Carlo Lorenzini), first published in 1883. The sheets are in two formats: the largest ones are devoted to the main animals that Pinocchio meets during his adventures; the smallest ones, as explained by the artist himself, represent less important animals, described as “non dialoganti” (not-speaking). The drawings are made in black ink, pure and diluted, on cotton paper; in the lower part of each drawing the artist put the relevant passage of the text where the character is mentioned, according to the original version of 1883. Getting rid of alterations occurred in later editions, Sassòli aims to return the original novel, as it was born from the pen of Collodi. Going also beyond the “sweetened” version of Pinocchio’s story created for television, Sassòli devoted his work to the animals because, over the years, “their soul has been ignored, neglected and impoverished, distorted, lost and inevitably erased from our memory”. Therefore, these drawings invite us to “re-read” Collodi's novel to understand how the role of animals was essential for the development of the story: in fact, in his drawings Sassòli put aside the famous marionette to make animals talk instead. Pinocchio is defined as a noir, where darkness and deep shadows alternate with some rays of light all around.

Barbara Jatta, Director of the Vatican Museums, colleague of the artist since the University, told us that Art History classes they attended were “absorbed” by his friend Filippo in a way that led him to make art, rather than to study it, as it happened to her. During her talk she encouraged him, as did the rest of the guests, to engrave these drawings to make sure they won’t remain unique pieces. Leafing through the catalogue, edited by Alessandro Tosi, Director of the Museo della Grafica in Pisa, it is possible to note how Sassòli through drawing tries to mimic engravings, while usually the opposite process takes place.

In recent years the artist and Barbara Jatta had the opportunity to meet many times because of a project that Filippo Sassòli is conducting for the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, that is the creation of a series of portraits entitled I Primi Custodi e I Prefetti della Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, starting from the famous Bartolomeo Sacchi, best known as Platina, up to Monsignor Cesare Pasini, current custodian of the Pope’s library.

Francesco Scoppola, former General Director of Mibact, following the suggestion of Barbara Jatta, invited Filippo Sassòli to try photogravure or photography.

Among the guests Maria Antonella Fusco, former Director of the Istituto Centrale per la Grafica, joined their reflections: she, too, suggested Sassòli to translate the drawings into prints to rediscover Collodi's novel; as she said, “Another Pinocchio is possible, free from the barbarism of our time”.

Professor Lucia Tomasi Tongiorgi got to know Sassòli in Pisa, at the Museo della Grafica, at the exhibition inaugurated last May. She found in these drawings literary, cultural and technical suggestions that the artist developed to make them his own.

Full of emotion, grateful for the appreciation given to his work, the artist thanked all the guests. He then shared a dream: rather than translating his drawings, he would like to organize an itinerant exhibition abroad, especially for the deep consideration he has for Collodi and his work, in order to spread a fundamental piece of our literature. He remembered his amazement, when he discovered that in Jordan Pinocchio is a textbook at school, while here in Italy it is just an optional reading chosen by teachers. Filippo Sassòli, an artist and a man involved in the issues of our time, has given us with Una zoografia per Pinocchio an original appearance of things, in their elementary idea.

The exhibition in Rome was very successful; the book for signatures at the Institute had never been so full of grazie from all over the world. The educational activities organized around this exhibitions have also made it possible to approach a younger, and even very young audience, and draw them closer to the Institute. Finally the curator Fabio Fiorani said that often those experiences ended with young visitors hugging the artist, who was able to impress them with his strong personality and sensitivity.

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