“Modellare l’acqua” / “Shaping the water” is the topic around which the artist Mario Airò and the curator Simone Ciglia talked about. The activity was supported by the Italian Institute of Culture and was held in the premises of Harabel Contemporary Art Platform.


The topic of the talk comes from the name of the project of the artist in question (“Modellare l’acqua”/”Shaping the water”), a project that follows the path of Abruzzo’s craft perfection, a place that stands out for its rich craftsmanship tradition, a heritage which is regaining attention. The artist first touched on pottery (from the tradition of majolica processing by the inhabitants of Castelbasso, one of the main centers of pottery production in Italy, a production which reached its peak in quality in the XVI-XVII centuries), to form a natural motif: water and its flow, a motif from which he seeks the equivalence in sculpture, returning it to its grace, its sound (water).

This ancient art, which is the starting point and right at the heart of the water project, helped the artist to identify ways of implementing the project idea,which itself started from the fascination with the natural world, from the phenomena related to water, followed with the processing of ceramics from a contemporary point of view, thus creating an installation that restores/refines the theme of the source, which is poetically inspired. Thus, through the interweaving of contemporary and artisan art, in a way, the interconnection of techniques and styles is created , but not only, also that of the times, the sensitivity of yesterday with that of today, a union thanks to which continuity is ensured. Being face to face these forms, traditions and techniques enables things to be seen from a different perspective and gives way to new opportunities.

Without giving preference to any particular technique, on the contrary, always addressing what best fits the idea in question, the artist Mario Airò embodies that artistic language that is free to act by changing constantly ; any rule can be questioned, while respect for liveliness in all its many forms of reflection remains its main feature.

His artistic research is distinguished by a complete lack of boundaries. His works are proof that possible cultural mediums (literary, cinematographic and musical) can be intertwined together with everyday objects, in visions with great breadth that attract the viewer’s attention, stimulating sensory curiosity.

Mario Airò was born in Pavia in 1961. He studied in Milan with Luciano Fabro and, in the mid 90s he opened, with other artists, a self-managed space at Via Lazzaro Palazzi. In 1997 he took part at the 47th Venice Biennale, at the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow and in 2005 at the Kwangju Biennale. He has been the subject of many solo exhibitions and his work has been featured in group exhibitions at numerous institutions worldwide, including GAM, Turin; Kunsthalle, Lophem; Palazzo della Triennale, Milan; Galleria Nazionale di Parma-Palazzo della Pilotta; Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Villa Croce, Genova. His works have been shown, among others, at Castello di Rivoli, at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and at S.M.A.K. Ghent. Airò’s work is in the collections of many institutions, including MAXXI Roma, Castello di Rivoli, GNAM Roma, MAMbo Bologna, Museion Bolzano. He currently lives and works in Milan. 

* Simone Ciglia (born in Pescara in 1982) holds a PhD in Contemporary Art History from Sapienza University in Rome. He works mainly in the field of art and art criticism of the second half of the twentieth century. He is a freelance researcher and curator as well as a teacher at the Fine Arts Academy of Urbino, Italy. He writes for catalogues, books and magazines (he has collaborated with Zanichelli and Treccani and he is also a correspondent for “Flash Art” magazine). He is assistant researcher at MAXXI – National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome.