01 April 2023 - 02 July 2023, VILLA MALPENSATA, Lugano
MUSEC inaugurates a new appointment of the "Dèibambini" cycle at Villa Malpensata with a fascinating project full of chance encounters, intuition, colours and creativity.
Its story began in the spring of 1997 when Gloria Levoni, a passionate collector and patron from Mantua, discovered among the stalls of the antiques market in Fontanellato (Parma) a collection of children's drawings with formidable colours. Suddenly, the drawings reminded her of the Heian-era paintings (794-1185) illustrating the Story of Genji, the Shining Prince, an 11th-century Japanese novel, then on her bedside table. She thus decided, on the spur of the moment, to buy those drawings pervaded by the Orient: landscapes, houses, gardens and scenes of everyday life that moved her, lyrically echoing her readings. It is the beginning of a story full of surprises that will lead, in a short time, to the realisation that it is the fragile fragment of an immense quantity of works erased by time: about four million drawings made in 1938 for a competition among children (8 - 13 years old) from schools in the Axis countries - Japan, Germany and Italy - organised by Morinaga & Co., a large confectionary company founded in Tokyo in 1899.
Between 2002 and 2006, the drawings were the subject of several temporary exhibitions, in Japan and Italy, which revealed their existence and laid the foundations for their future valorisation.
On show in the Spazio Maraini, on floor -1 of Villa Malpensata, will be fifty drawings made with oil pastels on paper and three watercolours on paper. Enriching the exhibition curated by Francesco Paolo Campione and Sabrina Camporini will be two masks from the Montgomery Collection in Lugano depicting the head of a lion [shishi gashira] with large jaws, mobile ears and jaw, used in Japanese folklore dances. Also on display will be a copy of the rare volume published on the occasion of the temporary exhibition of children's drawings from the Morinaga competition, held in Tokyo at the end of 1938, and a sculpture by the artist Hayami Shirō (b. 1927), who was one of the prize-winning children in that competition and has become a respected and recognised artist in Japan. The terracotta and lacquer work, created in 2008, was recently acquired by Gloria Levoni, who generously made it available to MUSEC for the exhibition.