20 October 2012 - 20 January 2013


Curated by Giannino Stoppani Cooperativa Culturale


Forum - Via Milano 13, Rome

Admission free

Opening hours: Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10.00am - 8.00pm

"...I believe that fairy tales are true..."

"...they comprise a catalogue of the fates that can be assigned to a man and a woman"



Viaggio con figure nelle fiabe di Italo Calvino (Travelling with Figures in the Italian Fairy Tales of Italo Calvino) is dedicated to children and teenagers eager to listen to Italian fairy tales, but also to adults eager to reread them.  This exhibition-workshop is curated by the Bologna-based Giannino Stoppani cultural cooperative, in response to an invitation to Rome from the Palazzo delle Esposizioni's Art Bookshelf.


Eighteen illustrators - ten from Italy and eight from France - have been asked to interpret the fairy-tale Italy that Calvino describes in his written work.  Each illustrator has been given a fairy tale to work from, and this has produced a kind of gallery of figures in different styles and different techniques, ready for visiting.


We kick off with And Seven!, a fairy tale from the western Ligurian coast, an area in which Calvino spent many years of his life.  The fat, greedy daughter described in the tale, her only skill in life being to gobble down her food, explodes in the shapes, colours and sophisticated detail of Valerie Dumas, a French illustrator and painter whose irony is essential to conjuring up the kind of incongruous mood so beloved of the fairy-tale genre.

The Parrot, on the other hand, is a fairy tale from the Piedmont region.  The young king who turns into a parrot in order to pursue his love dream comes from the Monferrato area.  Pia Valentinis, originally from Friuli but now living in Cagliari, depicts him only as a bird, using a black pen and coloured crayons, and leaving it to the reader to imagine the king's features when he resumes the face of a new man. 

Another of the French illustrators is Yan Nascimbene, who has already illustrated Italo Calvino's works in France on several occasions.  His King Crin is a eulogy to the classic watercolour, to the perfection of miniature imagery, while his castle is a synthesis of every castle in every fairy tale in the world.

In The Wolf and the Three Girls Calvino allows himself to be tempted by verse, and the fairy tale takes on a different rhythm.  That is the rhythm that catches the eye of Agnese Baruzzi, a young illustrator from Imola, as she creates figures and settings using the technique of cutting them out and glueing on wood, building skillful 'embroidered pictures' on the page - pictures that are capable of capturing the atmosphere of a lakeside Little Red Riding Hood. 

And there is the fairy tale from Verona entitled The Land Where People Never Die, illustrated with crayon and watercolour by Georges Lemoine, the splendid doyen of French illustration.  Michel Galvin, on the other hand, offers us a highly personal interpretation of the meeting-cum-clash between the Witch Bistrega and Pierino Pierone.

Also on display in the exhibition is the work of Vanna Vinci with Uncle Wolf, a frightening tale from Romagna based on one of the countless versions of Little Red Riding Hood, who can't get enough pancakes, with her frying pan and her little red cape, Chiara Carrer with Belmiele and Belsole, and Vittoria Facchini with Colapesce.


Thirty-six plates in all, for eighteen fairy tales that wend their way through an Italy proud of its differences, for differences are a country's resource, not a source of potential division.


Illustrators in the exhibition: Valérie Dumas, Pia Valentinis, Yan Nascimbene, Agnese Baruzzi, Georges Lemoine, Michel Galvin, Vanna Vinci, Germano Ovani, Antonio Marinoni, Simona Mulazzani, Mauro Evangelista, Sébastien Orsini, Chiara Carrer, Agostino Iacurci, Charles Dutertre, Vittoria Facchini, Géraldine Alibeu, Isabelle Chatellard.