Carla Carli Mazzucato – an artist’s journey

Carla Carli Mazzucato – an artist’s journey


Nestled in the Alps of northern Italy, Among the mountain passes that lead from the Adige River Valley into the lands of central Europe, lies the region referred to as “South Tyrol.” It was, and remains today, a passage to the world beyond. Through this natural Alpine corridor, where long ago the Italian Renaissance traveled northward to share Italian art and culture with the world, another artistic journey began as well. Carla Carli was born on November 2, 1935, in the small town of Appiano, Italy. She was the second child of Anna Bella and Vigilio Carli, a well known and respected land owner who oversaw an expanse of orchards in the fertile agricultural region that ran along the Adige Valley Of course, the local tradition known as “Maso Chiuso” stated that a father’s house and property would pass down to a male heir. Vigilio already had a daughter. The entire town seemed to expect that his second child would be a son. And so, Carla began her life by defying expectations just as she would do many times in the years to come. In any event, not being a boy seemed to make little difference to young Carla or to her father. While her older sister stayed at home practicing piano and spending time with their mother, Carla accompanied her father on long walks through the countryside. Together they explored the quiet paths through the town and the wooded timber trails in the mountains above. Many years later, in a Homecoming Exhibit hosted by the Regional Society for the Arts, Carla would revisit some of those memories on canvas, recalling that simple, peaceful time in her life, when she was taught to notice and appreciate the beauty in nature. the gentle grace of the landscape that surrounded her childhood, a landscape that would too soon be darkened by the shadow of war. On June 10th, 1940, Italy officially entered World War II. Ill prepared to fight a war, The country was soon gripped by food shortages, economic hardship, and growing despair. By 1942, Allied bombardments had reached northern Italy, and Carla, now seven years old, came to know true fear. Hidden deep in the cavernous shelters carved into the surrounding mountains, She sat in darkness. Impressions of that time of uncertainty, grief and isolation, would surface years later in various works of art. at different periods of her career. Some were grim reminders of the futility of war, while others seemed to be brushed with that touch of optimism instilled in her as a child. Though Italy signed the armistice with the Allies in September of 1943, Germany annexed the Alto Adige region shortly after and consequently prolonged the fighting there for almost two more years. The war took its toll on the land, and on the people. Agriculture was devastated, and defeated German soldiers retreating from the northward advancing Allied forces, exacted their own terrible revenge against Italian partisans and sympathizers. But, the war was over, and the shadow of grief was lifted from young Carla’s life, though only briefly. Just as the region struggled to rebuild and renew itself, Carla’s father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He died on the fifth of October, 1947. At twelve years of age, Carla’s childhood was over, and she stepped forward onto the next length of her life’s journey. To help support her family, Carla began working in the town hall of Appiano. She wasn’t always able to attend her classes at school, but she continued her studies independently, reading by candlelight high up in the attic of “Angerburg,” her family’s home built in the 1600s. From a small attic window looking out over the rooftops of Appiano, Carla was left alone to ponder her future while cherishing the memories of her past. After receiving her diploma in Classical Studies, she went on to attend the Cà Foscari Fine Arts Academy in Venice, and the Università Cattolica in Milan. Little did she know that her journey was about to take an unexpected turn. Carla was a young woman now, and her studies had broadened her horizons to consider life beyond the borders of the Alps. She studied literature, art and philosophy, against the expectation that she would simply find a fine, young man to marry, and settle down to a domestic life, in her hometown of Appiano. The brother of one of Carla’s classmates had just returned home to Italy from America. Giuseppe Mazzucato, a handsome young man born near Padua in the Veneto Region, had come home for a visit, and…to find a wife. The two were purposefully introduced and Giuseppe, though ten years her senior, was drawn by the unconventional spark of Carla’s character. In short order, he invited her to come join him in America… as his wife. Carla arrived in the United States on May 4th, 1962. Staying as a guest in suburban Chicago with family friends who had immigrated some years before, Carla’s view of the world was suddenly and irrevocably changed. No longer a young girl looking toward the Alpine passes that led out to the world beyond, she was in the heart of a vibrant city, a new world that seemed to present limitless possibilities. Here, in this place, she would find her voice and learn to express herself through art. On June 16, 1962, Carla Carli and Giuseppe Mazzucato were married at Saint Anthony’s Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois. It was the start of yet another length of Carla’s journey. Between 1963 and 1968 she would become a mother, three times. She welcomed Anna Virginia, Paolo Vigilio, and Daniela Maria into the world. While it may have seemed the expectation that she would finally settle down had come to pass, Carla had a way of defying expectations. She began to paint. Her earliest works reveal her formal training in art, traditional compositions, and a style that draws most directly from the classical period of the Italian Renaissance. But Carla went beyond that boundary as well. Influenced by her studies of the French expressionist painter, Georges Rouault, her style began to evolve, becoming less rigid in form, suggestive rather than literal. She drew inspiration from her past, impressions from her youth memories of her hometown and the beautiful landscapes of the Adige Valley. By 1968, Carla and her new family had settled in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. There, from her tiny, one-room home studio Carla continued her artistic evolution. Soon her work revealed a quality beyond simple mastery of technique. Her art captured something intangible from the subjects she painted. Patrons who viewed her first small exhibit in 1969 saw a collection of memories stirred with emotion. The art not only described the artist’s past, it suggested the mood that molded her perception of that past. Carla began to explore further, experimenting with different media and delving deeper into expressionism she embraced the bold colors and dynamic geometry prevalent in the design of stained glass art. Working with acrylic on paper she began a period that focused primarily on faces and figures. Through these works, Carla was able to express, in dramatic fashion, piercing emotions and ideas that required a more intensified treatment. Several religious-themed works resulted from this exploration, and years later, when Carla would take up the craft of woodcut printmaking, some of the same themes and dramatic style markers would once again be given a voice. In 1977, Carla transferred her home studio to a new building and opened an art gallery to display her work and provide an exhibition venue for other artists as well. Through her Alpha Art Gallery Carla finally had a large studio space where she could fully dedicate herself to her artistic expression and create a new series of works that would carry her to new horizons in the art world. Carla’s artistic evolution continued through the 1980s. Her work became more and more distinctive as it began to bridge a traditional past with elements of a more contemporary artistic vision. Her bold, new expressionist palette, combined with a more tranquil, impressionistic touch, to create numerous paintings that seemed rooted in memories of the past while transporting those memories into the present and reinterpreting them in vibrant colors and flowing compositions. In 1982, Carla began a decade of annual exhibitions in New York City. Art patrons soon began to discover her art and eagerly traveled to New York each year to seek her out and add to their collections. Critics hailed the arrival of a talented new voice in the world of contemporary art. “This serious and talented artist has quite a range of expression. One image, however bold and varied, is not enough to impart her many rich experiences.” “Mazzucato’s art has a commanding presence. All her paintings are strong vibrant expressions of a woman touching her own, powerful spirit, and letting us share it through her art.” Interest in the artist’s work continued to grow. Between 1983 and 1988 the artist was invited to exhibit in Toronto, Canada, Chicago, and Palm Springs, California. “In all of Mazzucato’s paintings, the spirit of wonder, silence and mystery permeates the landscapes. In an eloquent symphony of sensuous forms and color, past, present and future are wed forever and captured in a moment.” Carla Carli Mazzucato’s work had found an appreciative audience, and collectors took notice. But they weren’t the only ones. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese was active in promoting the resurgence of “ars sacra” (sacred art), in Italy. A large scale commission of fourteen paintings depicting the passion of Christ had been proposed for installation in the Church of Corpus Domini in Bolzano, Italy. But in lieu of the traditional Stations of the Cross, the work was to fuse the story of Christ with a contemporary interpretation of its meaning in society. Carla was the artist for the task. Her treatment of the subject reinterpreted Christ’s fall and sacrifice as a parallel tragedy with mankind’s own fall from grace. Here again, was art giving voice to those dark moments from her past when war and inhumanity revealed itself. The series was completed in 1990, and was installed later that year in Corpus Domini of Bolzano. To sustain her ever-growing calendar of exhibitions, Carla Carli Mazzucato began to broaden her canvas. But because her art sprang from the truth of her own personal experiences, she could not simply paint images on canvas. She began traveling extensively, to immerse herself in different environments. to listen and feel the particular rhythms of places. Her journey through eastern Europe in 1991 yielded a series of paintings tinged with the hope and promise of the region’s reawakening. Her “Russia” series premiered in 1993 at the Galleria Sant’Isaia in Bologna, Italy. “Carla Carli Mazzucato’s canvases painted dynamically in oil, nevertheless, possess all the freshness of a graceful sketch.” “To describe fully Mazzucato’s artistic language, one must speak of both warm and tender tones as well as the dynamic harmony of color and imagery that suggests a powerful vision.” “There is an abstract quality in her work that makes it timeless.” A few months later, the Galleria La Spirale, in Prato, near Florence, Italy, requested an encore presentation of the few remaining works in the series, and presented a retrospective of earlier works as well. “Through Carla Carli Mazzucato’s paintings, we can see that a true master is at work, not to define a reality, but to attempt to evoke, in those who would see and listen, a visual melody in tune with her world,” “or at very least, to prompt them to willingly glance through that window of possibility opened by her art.” Mazzucato continued her travels and spent time in France and Spain before returning to the United States. As with her travels through eastern Europe, her time in France inspired another series of works, boats along the Seine, city streets pulsing with vitality, blending their colors to the landscape, figures brushed with expectation. “As with Chagall, Mazzucato has developed a very personalized color sense. The images in Mazzucato’s work often harken back to works by Monet and Renoir. “Yellow symbolized ‘hope’ for Van Gogh, but there is a more joyful atmosphere to Mazzucato’s work.” The “France” series premiered in 1994 at the Gallerie 454 in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. The exhibit created a sensation and a sense that the arrival of an important artistic voice had been announced. What critics and art historians in Italy had praised, was now recognized as a bridge between the masterworks of the past and a newly defined artistic vision. “Carla Carli Mazzucato is, if we attempt to define her art, a modern expressionist, still moved by the misery of contemporary humanity, however, unlike Rouault or the German expressionists, her art attempts to convey an ultimate optimism in the nature of human beings.” Carla Carli Mazzucato returned to New York City in 1996 and 1998 invited by the Montserrat Gallery to exhibit in the city’s celebrated SoHo District. It was here that she unveiled yet another form of artistic expression, the three-dimensional, multi-paneled forms known as Mazzucato Tableaux™ “A consumate explorer of creativity, Mazzucato creates ‘Tableaux.’ These innovative works offer the viewer intimate glimpses into enchanting, imaginative worlds that are always evolving.” And the artistic evolution continued. In 1999, Carla Carli Mazzucato was honored during a gala, black-tie celebration at the newly restored Opera House in Detroit, Michigan. Attended by more than 400 guests, the focus of the event was the unveiling of a four foot by six foot original painting entitled, “Evening at the Opera,” commissioned by the Dante Alighieri Society. Tonight, this opera house will gain the first, I hope the first of many works of art, that will become a part of the collection. And the painting that you’re going to see tonight by this wonderful, wonderful artist, is… What a way to launch the collection. The painting was revealed to the public as the inaugural work of art in a new collection now on permanent display at the Detroit Opera House. That same year, the Italian Consulate of Detroit added two Mazzucato original paintings to its public collection as well. “Land of the Immigrant” and “Carnival in Venice” were installed in the Buhl Building consulate offices. Mazzucato’s artistic prominence led to many distinguished honors and publications. “American Artists – an illustrated survey of contemporaries” “Mazzucato – paintings and poems” and “Mazzucato – New Horizons” traced the artist’s journey from the late 1980s through the 90s. To recognize outstanding contributions to the world of contemporary art at the close of the millennium the SoHo Fine Arts Institute in New York City published a hard cover volume spotlighting the work of 28 international artists, selected from across the globe. Carla Carli Mazzucato was featured both for her original paintings and woodcut print work. In 2001, Carla Carli Mazzucato was invited to return home. Hosted by the Regional Society for the Arts, and officiated by the mayor of her hometown in Italy, a grand exhibit of 61 new original paintings by the artist was orchestrated within the halls of the majestic Castle San Valentin, overlooking the green valley of Appiano where Carla was born and raised. The exhibit also saw the unveiling of the commissioned work “Burgenritt” completed for the city of Appiano for display in the Appiano Art Museum. To further commemorate the show and artist, The Regional Society for the Arts also published a comprehensive book on Carla Carli Mazzucato and her work entitled, “Mazzucato – Heinkehr” (return to my homeland) Between 2001 and 2005 Carla Carli Mazzucato embarked on yet another length of her journey. Four decades after her arrival in America, she was poised to begin a vast undertaking, a tribute to the land she had come to embrace with all its beauty and opportunities. She traveled through the United States eventually settling in a new home in Southern California. And early in 2005, she completed the final canvas of a 50 painting series entitled, “America – My Adopted Country” The series is a visual diary of the impressions made upon the artist since her arrival in 1962. Like all of Mazzucato’s works, the paintings recall not just places but emotions and experiences that have shaped the artist’s world view through time. America is painted with possibility, and brushed with destiny and a sense of optimism for what the future may hold. Invigorated by the completion of her “America” series, Mazzucato barely paused before continuing her work on another new series of paintings. In October of 2005, she was invited to display her nine-painting “Tuscany” series in a California exhibit hosted by the co-director of the Guggenheim Gallery at Chapman University. By the year’s end, The Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana, California had extended an invitation as well. and Mazzucato’s “Venice” series was presented in an extended exhibit that lasted six months. Three additional works, including 1994’s “New Horizon” which helped define the modern expressionist movement, were selected in June of 2006 to replace the outgoing “Venice” series. As Mazzucato’s work graced the walls of California museums, the artist returned again to Italy in September of 2006 at the invitation of the Prisma Galerie in Bolzano. Regarded as one of the most prestigious galleries in the region, The Prisma hosted a two-week exhibit of new works entitled, “New Seasons.” “Her landscapes sway between joy and sadness, light and darkness, between the conscious and subconscious. It is this variation of tone in each of her paintings that creates an emotional dynamic held in balance by the strength of her composition.” Corporate and private collections featuring the art of Carla Carli Mazzucato have proliferated worldwide. And with each new venue comes the growing awareness that Mazzucato’s work has profoundly impacted the art world It crosses cultural barriers and effectively bridges the rich artistic traditions of the past with a new and distinctive contemporary vision. And the journey continues. With the creation of a virtual gallery on the internet at www.mazzucato.org access to and interest in the artist’s work continues to grow. As art historian and critics in the U.S. and Europe have noted: “Mazzucato paints with an impressionistic delicacy that suggests and sings.” “Hers is a truly free art, lightyears from any set tradition.” “As with all her work, it is the human element that connects with us and speaks to us most profoundly.” There is no doubt that Carla Carli Mazzucato’s art has spoken to many over the years. From the Alps of northern Italy, to the shores of southern California and beyond, Through her work we are all invited to participate in that dialog of life revealed in an artist’s journey.

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