2023 is the year of Bergamo and Brescia, which have been named joint Italian Capitals of Culture. A rich programme of initiatives is planned under the ‘Città Illuminata’ (Illuminated Cities) theme, a fascinating journey of culture and beauty designed to foster greater engagement with our artistic heritage. Officina Italiana Design, the Bergamo studio founded by Mauro Micheli and Sergio Beretta and the exclusive designer of Riva boats since 1994, could not fail to be involved because art is a huge source of inspiration for the duo’s creations. For almost 30 years, in fact, Officina Italiana Design has been penning the most iconic boats on the international scene, which have also become one of the great symbols of Italian Style. OID’s deeply cultural background has its roots in Mauro Micheli’s own artistic training and his constant referencing of classic and contemporary art. In fact, Riva’s boats are the result of flawless formal balance, deft chiaro-scuro interplays and harmonies, much like artistic masterpieces.
Officina Italiana Design wanted to express its proud solidarity with the Government project by supporting artist Davide Allieri through financing the purchase of the raw material, fibreglass, which the Bergamo artist used in his latest artistic endeavour. Fibreglass has very close links, of course, to the nautical world, but here is given an even nobler purpose, making the transition from a structural material used in boat construction, to a role as the very soul of an art installation.
The resulting ‘Holder’ exhibition, curated by Alessandro Rabottini, runs at Palazzo Monti in Brescia, from March 25th to April 16th and sees the new works by Allieri (Bergamo, 1982) occupying Palazzo’s exhibition spaces. The curator describes the show thus: “Holder is an exhibition of voids and solids in the midst of which the body is absent, perhaps because it has passed away, perhaps because it is waiting”. Davide Allieri’s latest creations will then be brought to Milan where they will be shown at Miart (April 14th-16th) with Galerie Hubert Winter of Vienna alongside works by James Lewis.
This is not, however, the first time that Officina Italiana Design has supported the promotion of art: Mauro Micheli and Sergio Beretta are both passionate collectors themselves and adore exploring the work of young artists. Their previous initiatives have included projects such as B&CxR, a collection of limited-edition art photographs shot by Gabriele Basilico and Mario Cresci at the Cantieri Riva in Sarnico (BG) which have been shown in public exhibitions on several occasions.
“In art, I see the same balance and equilibrium that I always imbue boats with. For me, it’s a time of great reflection, and also stimulates the intellect as well as the senses,” confirms Mauro Micheli, OID Chief designer. “We love the creativity and expressiveness of human endeavour. Taking part in cultural happenings and being able to contribute to the fostering of the love of art is extremely rewarding for us. We like the idea of being part of an initiative as important as ‘Bergamo-Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023’ because these places are where we have our roots,” commented OID CEO Sergio Beretta.
Officina Italiana Design also recently purchased ‘Eclipse’, a piece by artist Jacopo Mazzonelli, from the Galleria Studio G7 in Bologna, and will be loaning it to PUES | Projects, a non-profit cultural association started by young Brescia cultural manager and curator Tommaso Nabiuzzi to develop innovative projects in the areas of contemporary art, culture and creativity in Brescia. As part of ‘Bergamo-Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023’, Eclipse will feature in the ‘Sistema Tempo’ (Time System) group show at MO.CA, Brescia’s Centre for New Cultures, from November 20th to December 10th. The aforementioned exhibition, co-curated by Nabiuzzi and Edoardo Rivoiro Pellegrini, another young Turin-based cultural manager who shares Tommaso’s Venice and Barcelona-centred training background, will also feature work by both emerging and established arts from a variety of different nations, in line with the PUES | Projects ethos.
“The ‘Sistema Tempo’ exhibition explores unexpected and original way of thinking and living the incessant rushing that is part of our entire life,” comments Tommaso Nabiuzzi. “Taking its inspiration from Carlo Rovelli’s book The Order of Time, the exhibition presents different artists’ visions as they question and grapple with the question of Time. From a simple unit of measure that acts as a bridge to the future all the way to becoming an integral part of our life experience”.
A reminder too that Bergamo-Brescia was named Italian City of Culture 2023 on July 16th 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the traumatic time for the area endured. The two cities, which had become symbols of resilience at the height of the pandemic, and the Italian Government bestowed this important honour on them as a message of hope and love. It was very much a move aimed at relaunching that saw culture become a catalyst for innovation and vision in even the most diverse areas of life. The ‘Illuminated City’ tagline cleverly encapsulates several different meanings: integration, creativity, the development of scientific research and technologies as well as serving as a reminder of the symbol of the city as a beacon, a reference point. All themes supported and shared very strongly by Officina Italiana Design.