"Lisa Ponti in dialogue with Gio Ponti and Francesco Vezzoli", Withers, Milan

17 April, 2019

"Lisa Ponti in dialogue with Gio Ponti and Francesco Vezzoli" is a temporary exhibition hosted at the Withers’ new offices in Milan. The initiative is part of WHITERS MEETS ART, a project  aiming at creating new synergies between the corporate environment and contemporary art. The exhibition, curated by That’s Experience and in partnership with Galleria Federico Vavassori, focuses on Lisa Ponti (1922-2019), in dialogue with her father Giovanni Ponti (1891-1979) also known as Gio Ponti, “the father of all Italian architects” and Francesco Vezzoli (b. Brescia, 1971) one of the most influential Italian artists internationally recognised.

WHITERS MEETS ART aims to offer a visual experience of the corporate values, such as promoting the role of women, the family dimension, and the local context. The promotion of the role of women is expressed by the choice of focusing on a woman artist (Lisa Ponti) in conversation with two male artists (Gio Ponti & Francesco Vezzoli) both represented by a single artwork featuring a feminine subject. The exhibition features 33 artworks by Lisa Ponti, displayed amongst the boardrooms on the fourth and fifth floors. Lisa Ponti typically draws on a A4 sheet, a standard format, democratic and modern. She draws quickly (“my drawings? In terms of speed I am unrivalled”), using pencils (“I am grateful to the pencil, it’s a rapid medium”), markers, and biro pens (“the pen is the best because you can’t erase it”). Indeed, she “loves the good, old marker”, and so the watercolour (“the fight between drawing and watercolour (“I’m not sure who’s the winner”). Lisa’s drawings are seldom signed or dated, dating back from 1992 to the present days. 


 Lisa Ponti, "Grazie"                                                        


Also, the family dimension plays a main role in Withers Meets Art, where the central focus is not on the renowned father, represented by a single artwork, but on his less famous daughter Lisa. This also offers and promotes an unconventional view of a family’s creative production through different generations. Gio Ponti’s "Le Gemelle" (32x21 cm, acrylic and ink on clear perspex sheet), displayed at the entrance of the exhibition, represents here a physical and empathic introduction to his daughter's works. The figurative element of the twins is a recurrent theme in Gio Ponti’s work. The artwork has been always property of the Ponti family, being sold to a private collector only recently. Withers Meets Art thus displays the artwork to the general public for the first time.


Francesco Vezzoli, "Portrait of Sophia Loren as the Muse of Antiquity (After Giorgio de Chirico)"


The generational dialogue goes beyond its immediate father-daughter exchange, thanks to the presence of a powerful sculptural artwork by Francesco Vezzoli, “the most important Italian artist in terms of mediatic impact reached outside the art world”, as critic and curator Francesco Bonami stated. Francesco Vezzoli’s "Portrait of Sophia Loren as the Muse of Antiquity (After Giorgio de Chirico)", (2011) is on display on the terrace, on the fifth floor. This work combines Metaphysical Art master Giorgio de Chirico and cinema icon Sophia Loren: the famous Italian actress’ face has been portrayed instead of Ariadne’s own face, the mythical Muse originally depicted by de Chirico in his painting. This artwork, in particular, exemplifies the artist’s recurrent mix of cultures and generations and has been exhibited during the opening of Piazza d’Italia (New Orleans, 2011), at Franco Noero art gallery (Torino, 2012), at MOCA (Los Angeles, 2014), and at Museion (Bolzano, 2016).

WITHERS MEETS ART has also a strong interest in promoting the local context, even though the artists displayed are all internationally known. The Ponti family, in fact, played a major role in promoting Milan’s cultural renaissance in the Post-War period, thanks to Gio Ponti and his liaison with the art scene’s leading protagonists of the time. These cultural gatherings were often happening within the family environment, leaving a deep impact on his daughter’s Lisa personality, both as a woman and an artist. Francesco Vezzoli, on the other side, stands today as excellence within the contemporary art scene, having contributed significantly to Milan’s cultural growth.

Aurelia Clavien

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