From Classical times cultures have been interested in human, animal and even vegetable transformations. Ovid’s Metamorphoses picks over a hundred of these mythical examples and weaves them into a poem of epic dimensions. One just has to think about how the tale of Daphne being turned into a laurel to escape from Apollo’s amorous advances has pervaded western art:.
In Indian belief systems reincarnation is a kind of variant on metamorphosis with a subsequent incarnation depending on how one conducts one’s life in the present one..
In the twentieth century the theme of metamorphosis was a particular favourite of several artists, some surrealistic, like Savinio
and others more in the line of graphic design, like Escher.
Returning to literature one must not forget that chilling short story by Kafka about a certain Gregor Samsa who found himself one morning turned into a monstrous insect-like creature.
Perhaps we are all, somewhere within ourselves, frightened of waking up into something else. Personally, I wouldn’t mind being reincarnated as a cat, like the inhabitants of that sleepy North French town described in one of Algernon Blackwood’s stories, but with the proviso that I am brought up in a feline-loving household and not in some disdaining and superstitious place.
The fact is that throughout our lives we are subject to metamorphoses – not into something completely different as with certain insects but in terms of our persona and, of course, our appearance. We change within ourselves; we are constantly being perceived differently by different people. It’s all a little disturbing but an absolute fact. The full moon for me is an especially difficult time as I’m particularly frightened of catching lycanthropy.
The disquieting theme of metamorphosis permeates the current exhibition by Sara Masocco in the foyer of Bagni di Lucca’s town hall which will continue until May 13th.
There are pictures of falcon women, animal-human maternities and also depictions of metamorphoses in their various stages, reminding one of the changes from caterpillar to pupa to butterfly.
Here is a selection of Sara Masocco’s paintings at the exhibition. It should not be missed by anyone interested in contemporary Italian art:
A few facts about the artist: Sara Masocco was born in Turin where she obtained her diploma at the city’s art school and is the wife of the late sculptor Mario Bargero whose exhibition was held here just before Sara’s. She began as a potter and then branched into painting on canvas and on wood. Sara is also a sculptor and, although her sculptures are not represented at the exhibition, several of them also develop the theme of metamorphosis.
Sara has exhibited in Turin, Ferrara, Monferrato and Barga. In 2004 she first held an exhibition in Brazil. In 2006 she had a show in Barga and in 2007 at Lucca’s city gallery. Sara is now a resident of the comune of Bagni di Lucca and lives at Monti di Villa. How rich is this area in terms of artists! Is it something to do with the air or the supreme natural inspiration of our valley I wonder?
For more examples of Sara Masocco’s creations do visit her web site at http://www.saramassocco.it/index.htm