Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Multilayered Life of Mariaelisa Leboroni

The artwork of master printmaker Mariaelisa Leboroni has brought smiles to faces and challenged everyday paradigms around the world for more than 40 years. Created using the ancient wood-block printing technique known as xylography, her colorful scenes portraying elephants, snails, clowns, dancers, and chefs are at once playful and thought-provoking.

A long-time resident of the hillside town of Perugia, Italy, Leb
oroni trained at the city’s venerable Academy of Arts before embarking on a career in printmaking that led to her founding her own publishing company, Xilocart, Studio d’Arte Tipographica. Using tools and techniques first employed in artisan printmaking in the 15th century, Xilocart soon perfected the art of wood-block printing, known in Italy as xylographia.

Xilocart’s prints—whether framed or used on the covers of journals, recipe books, and other products—soon made a name for the fledgling company and its founder. People responded to the dual nature of Leboroni’s work. At first glance, the prints were jolly carnival scenes, but just as many layers of ink went into the creation of each print, subtle and wry messages about personal freedom, feminism, and respect for the natural world were also incorporated into the art.

Leboroni went on to enjoy commercial success through Xilocart and other publishers, most recently with a line of products through Chronicle Books and as the illustrator for Andra Serlin Abramson’s Building Your Family Tree. Over the years she has participated in exhibitions in Italy, Germany, England, and the United States. As a testament to the longevity of her work, New York’s MoMA and museums in six European countries have added her art to their permanent collections.

Castle in the Air is delighted to welcome Mariaelisa Leboroni to Berkeley this fall for the unveiling of "Sinfonia d’Autunno," a display of 18 portraits and scenes printed on fabric and embellished with seashells, sequins, jewelry, and other ornaments, including "Happiness Is a Perfect Body" (pictured left). Join Leboroni in celebrating the exhibit at a festive reception at the Castle in the Air gallery the evening of Thursday, October 21.

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