HeArts – Exhibition by 31 Women

Last Saturday, Sala Blu Gallery launched HeArts – Exhibition by 31 Women, curated by Rossana Calbi in collaboration with Linda de Zen. This show collects 31 portraits captured by Laura Penna, and it will run in Rome until the 30thof September.


It was 1943, when Peggy Guggenheim’s female exhibition,The exhibition by 31 women, took place in New York between several critics. In these unforgettable times, the role of women was changing because of the war and the constant need of help was slowly transforming the structure of society. The general mentality, however, was still deeply entangled with traditional ideas and the exhibition was so criticised that even “The Time” refused to talk about.


Behind all the controversial polemic, the show is still inspiring contemporary initiative with new meanings and interpretations. In collaboration with Rossana Calbi and Linda de Zen, the artist Laura Penna photographed 31 women from the art, theatre, music and sport Italian scene, to homage to Peggy Guggenheim’s exhibition.


With her photos, the artist wanted to immortalise the tenacious attitude and the unique personality of the artists and athletes protagonists of her project. The intent of the photographer is to highlight the authentic expression of these women, that are keeping transforming themselves and their passion for the society, constantly looking for an alternative way of being women today. The exhibition shows us new possibilities for our role in the society, without forcing any label but leaving it to our individual research.

The open and ongoing nature of the project created connections between the photographer and the artists, who decided to contribute to this research not only with their portraits but also with their creations. These new connections offered the opportunity for lateral events. During the opening weekend, Laura Penna captured with her camera other artists to add to her collection; or the live painting of Gerlanda di Francia to present “Aurora nel Buio” of Barbara Baraldi, on the 22ndof September.


The debate on the role of woman today is still vivid and far from its end. This exhibition illustrates us alternative examples of being women, giving us the opportunity to open a conversation and reflect on our self from a different angle.


I had the chance to ask the artist Laura Penna about her project:


–          The most criticized Peggy Guggenheim’s exhibition inspired you and Rossana Calbi for the content of this show. Today the genre debate is still vivid and complex, there is any particular reason why you decided to dedicate this exhibition to the women universe? 

I had already photographed several women and I have always found it good to share ideas, projects and unconventional shooting with them.

When I was reading the biography of Peggy Guggenheim, I find this fascinating story of the EXHIBITION BY 31 WOMEN project. At that time, that exhibition was almost a scandal, the art world considered male artists only.

This kind of consideration has certainly changed since then, but unfortunately, some discrimination occurs still today.  heArts was born merging these considerations. It’s a project that aims to enhance female’s arts.


–          You photographed 31 different women from the art, theatre, music and sports world. What captured your interest in their stories?

The project started from the music world, the closest one to my background.

Then I tried to push my research on the artistic field where I had never worked. It was really exciting to know personally writers and painters whom I knew only through their work.

Also, there was the meeting with Alice Caligiuri, Kickboxing champion. A wonderful soul, full of contrasts. Shy, at first, and then explosive.

On the set in his gym, we had a lot of fun.

With each artist was born a special feeling and with some of them, a real friendship.


–          You have been always working with backstage, music and portraits. How this project connects with your previews work?  

I have joined two great passions: music and image. For 10 years I collaborated with music webzine and magazine

For this reason, in my first project “ALT – Artists like Them”,  the portraits were made exclusively with musicians.

For ALT I was inspired by the photos of famous artists and painters of 900. I did a great search in the art and photography world. A research that has continued over time until the heArts idea.

These projects are definitely related to each other.


Jupiter in Saturn

“Jupiter in Saturn” debuts tonight at Fondaco space with the works of Fabio Timpanaro and the sounds of Luca Longobardi. Curated by Nero Gallery, this exhibition is an anticipation of a show that will run in January to celebrate Twin Peaks of David Lynch, host of honour of the 12° edition of the International Film Festival of Rome.


David Lynch is one of the most innovative and eclectic firms of contemporary filmmakers. In occasion of the 50° anniversary of his career, the International Film Festival of Rome invited the director to tribute his works with the Premio alla Carriera. Master of uncanny, surreal atmosphere, twofold meaning and lack of linearity, Lynch is a director, screenwriter, producer, painter, musician, actor, and photographer. Parallel to the award ceremony, Nero Gallery organised a pop-up event to celebrate Twin Peaks, the famous series that has revolutionised the world and the language of TV shows.

“Jupiter in Saturn” is an exhibition that collects the works of Fabio Timpanaro, digital artist and creative director who dedicated his last works to the disquieting story of this small logging town five miles south of the Canadian border. Working on the mystery around the characters and the surreal atmosphere of the village, the artist offers us an overview of the peculiar symbolic language that makes Lyncian’s works open to several interpretations. Lynch inspired Timpanaro not only for the peculiar innovation of his works, but also for his artistic exploration. The works presented at the exhibition are characterised by an original combination of photography, digital and oil painting, which reflects the mystical and symbolic universe of Twin Peaks. In conjunction, Luca Longobardi curated an audio installation entitled 2357, that plays with the timbre and metric research of the sound imagery of the surreal world created by Lynch.

While we are waiting for the collective exhibition that will be run from January at the Nero Gallery, this anticipation makes us think about how the director is not only an inspiration for the world of cinema and photography, but also for the artistic research in a broader sense.  The peculiarity of this tribute is the creative play that Timpanaro and Longobardi have to engage with their own medium and the open interpretation they left to the viewer, rather than a linear and clear reference to an artist that cannot be classified because of his individual exploration.

Eastern palace for pleasure

On Wednesday, at the Nero Gallery in Rome, ended  “Eastern palace for pleasure’. For this solo exhibition, the curators Daphnée Thibaud and Giulia Capogna collected the works of Tony Cheung, Chinese artist who plays with pop illustration and ceramic on the contradiction of his culture.

Over the centuries, Chinese influences captured our imagination with fascinating manufacturing of silk and ceramic, and the variety of traditions and languages still evolving and transforming within the society. The connection with this immense land increased with the economic crisis in Europe, when the role of China as superpower became every day more evident in our economy. However, what we know about this vast and variegated land is only a small angle of the whole picture.

Since 2008, Beijing government has been filtering and detecting any information or channel of communication that could create doubts or discussion on the political moves of the government. YouTube, Google, Whatsapp or Social Media, which in the Western world are basically necessary to be part of the society, are totally forbidden in almost the all country. Beyond what we can see on the surface, the internal differences create contradiction not only for the political party, but also for the identity of the citizen.



Tony Cheung, from Canton, based his works on this social contradiction with a combination of Japanese manga, old Chinese painting, ceramic and the political posters of the Mao period. Tony began his artistic career with “Sensitive Words”, a project to investigate the evolution of the meaning of words under censorship, and the limits of expression on Internet and channel of communications. The artist’s illustrations highlight the contradiction in the society, analysing how ancient tradition and globalization are affecting the individual expression.

With a sarcastic vein, the artist plays on the commonplace connected with his culture, like school uniform or transformation of sexuality, illustrating how old and global tendencies are forming new shapes in Chinese society. Using traditional medium as illustration and ceramic, the artist proposes unexpected, dirty content without filter or easy moral.

The interesting aspect of the artist’s project is the lack of intention of leading the visitor to a fixed interpretation. In opposition with the philosophy of censorship and obvious categorisations, the artist leaves the observer free to give is own interpretation, without any label, but using the eyes of the artist to develop a personal understanding. This is a brilliant example of integration between two different cultures, where the opportunity for a “meeting” is left to the work of art, and how they move our sensibility or interest, rather than to a ready-made product that promotes the same, easy, meaning for everyone.