Lisa Ponti on show in New York

The gallery Ortuzar Projects present the first solo exhibition of the late Italian artist in the United States.

Lisa Ponti (b. 1922, Milan; d. 2019, Milan) was a critic, editor, and artist whose significant contribution to the field of art and culture in postwar Italy has long been overshadowed by the international fame of her charismatic father, architect Gio Ponti, with whom she collaborated extensively throughout her career. The exhibition includes a selection of forty drawings, all swiftly executed on a standard A4 sheet, and made at the height of her career as a solo artist, from 1993 until shortly before her death at the age of 97.

For nearly three decades, Lisa Ponti exhibited in Milan with the gallerist Franco Toselli, who she had befriended in the 1970s together with a group of artists including Mario and Marisa Merz, Alighiero Boetti, Vincenzo Agnetti, Emilio Prini, Luciano Fabro, Mimmo Paladino, Charlemagne Palestine, and others. Although she had begun drawing while working at Domus (1966-86), she did not show publicly as an artist until 1992. From that point onwards, her style remained consistent as well as insistently playful, poetic, and succinct. In some cases, the drawings double as poems or letters, greeting her many friends or sending congratulations and cleverly incorporating text into figurative designs almost calligraphically, like modernist ideograms. Favored motifs often recur – the quick outline of a profile; or rapidly rendered hands, feet, flowers, snails, wings, and other cherubic (or diabolic) characters – as well as humble readymade materials including cotton wool, eggshell, threshed wheat, newspaper clippings, scraps of paper, and her own photographs. Later, she relied more and more on thick marker than any pen, pencil or brush to spell out her vivid ideas. The ingenuity of her seemingly artless compositions lies in their simplicity – reducing a complex concept or feeling to the width and sure stroke of a single, dashed-off line.

The exhibition is realized in collaboration with the artist’s son, Salvatore Licitra, and with the support of Archivio Lisa Ponti and Galleria Federico Vavassori, Milan

Lisa Ponti
Drawings 1993–2018
Ortuzar Projects, New York
22 May 2021

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