Nepal-inspired bronze show in Italy

Bronze sculptures by an Italian artist inspired by Kathmandu Valley’s lost-wax process and exhibited earlier this year at the Patan Museum, is again on display at an art gallery in Rome till November.

Titled Mvaḥ Chā, the exhibition of bronzes by Namsal Siedlecki and curated by Marcello Smarrelli, is on at the Fondazione Pastificio Cerere till 30 November, and after that five of the sculptures will be in the permanent collection of the Centro per l'arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci in the town of Prato in Italy.

The exhibition is a result of the Crisaldi project supported by the Italian Council that allowed Siedlecki to study the lost-wax process in Kathmandu and the display of the works at the Patan Museum in January 2020 in partnership of Kathmandu’s Siddhartha Arts Foundation.

The series of bronze sculptures were realised by the artist during different periods of his Kathmandu residency in collaboration with the local foundries. The artworks derive from the moulds traditionally used by the Nepali artisans for the lost wax castings of the votive statues.

Artist Namsal Siedlecki. Photo: EXIBART

With Mvaḥ Chā the artist tests and elaborates on the technique of lost wax casting, which has developed differently during the ages and cultures due to various factors, the most significant being the raw materials available to the artisans. In Nepal such materials are replaced with Mvaḥ Chā, a mortar obtained by kneading clay, cow manure and chaff, rice grains casings.

Siedlecki was fascinated by the steps preceding the fusion, the moment in which the wax model is covered by layer over layer of Mvaḥ Chā, forming a casing so thick to completely hide the original shape.

Working in close contact with Nepali artisans, Siedlecki converted these artefacts into artworks which, though necessary to the creation of the sculptures, would never have become art because they have to be necessarily be destroyed in order to bring the casting process to an end.

The result are objects with no defining forms, showing a powerful, primitive expressiveness, free from proportional canons, from precise anatomical references, which however keep a faint relation with Buddhist and Hindu religious iconography, and at the same time remind us of the archaic aesthetic of early twentieth century sculpture.

The recovery of ancient traditional techniques and the use of primordial shapes breathe life into this series of sculptures that converse with past and present, the East and the West, underlining how the fascination with the unknown and spiritual has always accompanied humankind throughout history.

After the Patan Museum exhibition, Mvaḥ Chā was supposed to travel to the Italian Institute of Culture of London, and on to Poland and France, but was affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

Namsal SIedlecki was born in the United States in 1986, and lives and works in Seggiano in Italy. In 2015 he won the fourth edition of the Moroso Prize and the Cy Twombly Italian Affiliated Fellow in Visual Arts by the American Academy in Rome. In 2019 he won the Club Gamec Prize as well as the Cairo Prize.

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