Francesco Pergolesi was raised in Spoleto, an Italian village filled with artisan shops and small businesses. His past series, Heroes, featured work inspired by the people and places from his childhood that are slowly disappearing: the watchmaker fixing old time pieces; the frame shop where hand-milled frames line the walls; and the local cobbler whose walls are covered with leather hides.
Tableaux continues his commitment to the people living in small towns in Italy, where human relationships are still the center of daily life. In Pergolesi’s newest series, he focuses his attention on the work surfaces that bear the markings and history of time. This can be seen in photographs of mathematical calculations, assorted tools used for framing, leather remnants discarded on the floor, and a paint splattered table that looks like a modern-day Jackson Pollack. As he states: “Tableaux is a project dedicated to the worktables of artists and artisans… Every table is a canvas generated unconsciously, thanks to the traces of daily work. The material is the tangible representation of memory… every detail becomes magnified, emphasizing the worth and uniqueness of the artisan’s work. The worktable is a reliable place, an esoteric shelter where day after day, year after year, generations repeat skillful gestures, generating ideas and solutions. It is a place where one puts together and transforms materials.”
This series marks the artist’s foray into multiple ways of presentation, displaying the works as large scale framed photographs, memory boxes, and wall installations. Upon entering the gallery, the viewer sees an installation of twelve photographs scattered on the wall, visual details that offer an experience of reflection. On a shelf sits a box that when opened, contains the photographic installation, along with objects from the artisan’s shop, creating a memory of the person and place depicted. Through these new pieces, Pergolesi honors the skill and labor slowly losing ground to automation.
Francesco Pergolesi sees himself as a guardian of a vanishing world where people congregate to talk about families and daily activities. Every Hero unearths a person from his past… and every photograph becomes a new theater set, inspiring him every day, as he continues to wander the streets looking for a connection.
Francesco Pergolesi, Tableaux
May 4 to July 7, 2018
Catherine Edelman Gallery
300 W Superior St # Bw
Chicago, IL 60654