Orietta Mengucci works on transformations, the transformation of Matter (clay, paper, wood) that goes through her hands. In fact she states that she is primarily interested in the process, the result is secondary. The process she is referring to is that in which clay and paper go through a corruption process in order to take up new forms. It’s as if her studio was a laboratory of physics, a time accelerator, hidden in a courtyard in Rome, which allows her to travel trough time, not only the historical one but also that of Matter. It’s not the case that Orietta the sculptress was born after having seen the great roman exhibition on Ebla, with its abundant clay tablets that have gone trough millennia preserving cuneiform writing, all the elements that later on will influence her work were already there The use of clay as a sculptress rather than a ceramist, with the desertion of glazes and the use instead of the clay colours enriched by “marks”. Her interest for writing is soon abandoned in favour of monolithic forms as in the Huge Dolmen where clay takes up the image of rusted iron.

The sculptures, in fact, refer to a remote era of the Earth, of which they are a trace, a sign, matter, bearing the stigmata of time: fractures, wounds, bruises. Obviously it’s not real time that has passed; in other words the transformation is the work of the artist. Orietta does not try to control this metamorphosis of Matter but directs it choosing the materials and the colours that will change in a double interaction amongst themselves and time. It will be Matter itself changing its nature, following its own laws and so, a fracture will open up in the firing, or, as it happens in more recent work, a sheet of paper will disintegrate when coming in contact with caustic lime and will expose the underneath, showing a red vein of earth colour but also of blood.

This research is taken to real depths in her latest works. The base, as mentioned, is paper, on which she spreads lime, clays and more paper. Due to this contact Matter is brought to life, it takes up forms, thicknesses and colours unexpected and unforeseeable as if it was a living organism. Indeed Orietta calls the surface of her pieces “skins”. In her works in the end we see our portraits of women and men transformed by life and from life made imperfect and lacerated, but nether the less beautiful.

Francesco Feola, art critic