Mvah Cha
curated by Marcello Smarrelli
22 sep 2020 – 30 nov 2020

Namsal Siedlecki presents the results of the Crisalidi project – shown in a January preview by the Patan Museum (Kathmandu, Nepal) – supported by the Italian Council (6th Edition, 2019) program to promote contemporary art in the world by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism. “The scientific and anthropologic interest in phenomena, the almost alchemic approach to the matter and its ‘changing states’, the attention to different styles and techniques, the reflections on the value of artistic work – says Marcello Smarrelli, curator of the exhibition as well as Fondazione Pastificio Cerere’s artistic director – are the reasons behind the inclusion of the artist’s project in which Fondazione Pastificio Cerere is participating in the Italian Council program”.

The main focus of the exhibition is made up of five big bronze sculptures, titled Mvah Cha (Chrysalis), realized by Namsal Siedlecki in 2019 during the various residency periods in Kathmandu, where he had the opportunity to experiment and elaborate on the Nepalese lost-wax method in some of the most relevant local foundries, which are devoted to producing sacred sculptures. Particularly, the artist was left aghast by the various passages preceding the fusion: while in the West the wax model is covered by shredded brick and chalk, a peculiar, albeit effective compound is used in Nepal: the Mvah Cha, a type of mortar obtained by mixing clay, cow manure, and chaff, the casing of rice grains.
The title of the sculptures derives therefore from the daily practice of shops, from the very moment the wax model is covered in various layers of Mvah Cha, creating a shell so thick to hide the original shape. By choosing those shapes, Namsal Siedlecki has elevated these elusive artefacts to artworks, which, though necessary for the creation of the sculptures, would never have become such, as they are usually destroyed in order to carry out the fusing process.
The result of this unusual process is a series of sculptures of indefinite mass, ‘non-mocks’, forms given a powerful, primal expressivity, escaping conventional canons of proportions and precise anatomical reference points, which, however, preserve a thin but powerful association with Hindu and Buddhist religious iconography, referencing at the same time the archaizing aesthetics of the early ‘900.
There is an element that strengthens the spirituality mood that permeates the exhibition, namely the presence of objects such as candies, money, flowers, eggs, and spirits; those are traditional offerings that worshippers give to divinities to prevent their wrath. By triggering this ritual in the exhibition, Namsal Siedlecki creates a relationship between the thousand-year-old Nepalese culture and the contemporary art language.
Artworks creating a dialogue between past and present, East and West, highlighting how the fascination for the unknown and spiritual has always been escorting mankind, with no regards to époques nor latitudes.

The exhibition path is enriched by other sculptures, which were created after the original cluster, during following periods of sojourn and relations with other foundries, which allowed the artist to carry on his reflection on the Nepalese techniques and sculpture history.

Via degli Ausoni, 7