(Castelfrentano, CH, 1938 – )

Mario Cerioli studied at the Art Institute of Rome, and devoted himself to ceramics. Starting from 1952 he worked with great masters such as Leoncillo, Colla and Fazzini. He started his career in 1958 when he won an award for Young Sculptors held at the National Gallery of Modern Art of Rome. In 1959 he began to experiment with unfinished wood and in 1969 he won first place in the “Encouragement Awards” held by the Ministry of Public Instruction. Cerioli’s real talent showed clearly in an exhibit held between 1963 and 1964 at the La tartaruga (The turtle) gallery in Rome where he exhibited Letters, Telephone, Yes-No. In 1967 he began working with the concept of “Arte Povera” (literally “poor art”, an Italian Pop-Art current that dealt with rustic furniture style) and specifically intensified the use of wood. The works of Cerioli contributed to reshaping the sculpting language of those years and also opened the road to the poetic language of “poor art” furnishing style while remaining in the field of Italian Pop Art. In the 1970s he started his activity as a set designer (his first work was for the play Richard III) that he alternated with his work as a sculptor. From this period on he started to associate to wood iron, glass, fabric, coal, sand, bronze and marble as well. He also worked for the cinema, in interior design, and devoted himself to the projects of churches and their interior decorations. In 1970 Cerioli, under the direction of set designer Enrico Tovaglieri and with the help of the workers from La Scala Theater, realized a large wooden set with Mina’s sculpted profile, which was used in two advertisement spots for the Carosello program for Barilla. These were filmed at the ICET recording studios in Cologno Monzese and were directed by Valerio Zurlini  and featured Mina singing Non credere (Do not believe) (ASB, BAR I Re 1970/1) and Sacumdì Sacumdà (ASB, BAR I Re 1970/11). The shooting of scenes of extraordinary formal rigor, almost having the quality of a work of architecture that director Zurlini wanted for these spots, alternate in contrast to the still wooden silhouette and real profile of the singer Mina, reminiscent of a statue. In the second spot instead, in accordance with the script, the wooden sculpture was set on fire and was destroyed by flames, creating the effect of a very impressive spectacle. But the relationship with Barilla did not end and several of his works can be admired in the Barilla Collection of Modern Art. Worthy of mention is the large bronze horse commissioned by Pietro Barilla for the outside of the Pedrignano factory to remember the generation of pioneers that guided the company from its beginnings. There is also a portrait of Pietro made by Cerioli by superimposing numerous layers of wood. From the end of the 1970s Mario Cerioli gained wide notoriety and his exhibit in Italy and in the world are by now numerous.

Cecilia Farinelli