Monday, April 16, 2012

The many hats of Francesco Ferlisi

Hello bloglings! How I’ve missed you! I can only blame my absence on a typically chaotic Easter week and particularly debilitating allergies. I’m thinking of investing in the Kleenex company.

Nefertiti Style, Francesco Ferlisi

But I had to write today about the marvelous art opening I attended over the weekend on Via Margutta. It’s been a while since I wrote one of my street posts (if you are new to this blog, I am obsessed with discovering the meaning behind the names of Rome’s streets), and I’m thinking that Via Margutta might just be the next street I write about. It is enchanting, tucked between Via del Babuino and the Pincian Hill with a canopy of vines. But that post is for another day.

Today I am itching to write about the exhibit of paintings by Francesco Ferlisi at the private gallery Il Mondo dell’Arte on historic Via Margutta, street of artists. Ferlisi, a Sicilian-born painter active in Rome for a number of years, has been critically acclaimed across Europe and North America. His style has been described as "ironically surrealistic" and each work is deeply symbolic.

The title of this new exhibit is CopriCapi celebri. Copricapo is another word for hat in Italian (in addition to the literal cappello), from the words coprire (to cover) and capo (head). But the hats in his paintings are more than just “head-covers,” they are integral parts of the look and personality of the individual who wears them.

Capo can also mean boss, or even head of state, and the double meaning of the title refers to the fact that most of the hats depicted belong to political leaders or major players in the entertainment world. Ferlisi’s inspiration for the exhibit was not the celebrities but the hats themselves, and it is clear that the person wearing it comes second. The facial features of the wearer are often omitted, highlighting the hat, which is the real subject of each work.

God save the Queen, Francesco Ferlisi, 2011

The best part about this exhibit is that as you view the works, you will recognize the subject by their hats, not their features. Whether representing Queen Elizabeth II, Audrey Hepburn, Pope John Paul II, Marlene Dietrich or Camilla Parker Bowles, this innovative twist on portrait painting proves that what covers the head is often more recognizable than the head itself.

Audrey the Star, Francesco Ferlisi, 2011

A second section of the exhibit includes portraits of hats standing alone, that is, without a celebrity wearing them. Some are nevertheless instantly recognizable, such as the headdress of Nefertiti or the top hat of Winston Churchill, accompanied of course by his ubiquitous cigar.

You can view these fantastic and thought-provoking works (and meet the artist) at Il Monde dell'Arte gallery at Via Margutta 55, every day from 10am to 1pm and from 4pm to 7:30pm until the 22nd of April. (Closed Monday morning. Free entry.)

All images are provided courtesy of the artist and may not be reproduced. 
Via Margutta Photo source

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