Patrick Heide Contemporary Art is delighted to present “Sine Nomine Herma – Where the hell is Hermes?”, the second solo exhibition of Italian artist Francesco Pessina in London.
The exhibition is mainly dedicated to the artist’s new series of sculptures, Sine Nomine Herma, which subtly tackles the subject of the divine in modern society, or rather its absence as expressed by the subtitle ‘Where the hell is Hermes?’.
In his new sculpture series Pessina refers to a form of Ancient Greek statues called herms, quadrangular pillars surmounted by a head or bust depicting the god Hermes, which functioned as an apotropaic symbol to ward off bad luck.
In Greek mythology Hermes is the great messenger of the gods, the guide to the Underworld and the god of fertility, luck and travel. The herms statues were therefore placed at road crossings, country borders, entrances and other boundaries as a means of divine protection.
Originally the Hermes figures depicted the god itself, later on in Roman times the likenesses of famous figures from public life. In his contemporary take on the herms, Pessina replaces the heads with geometric, phallic and organic shapes chiselled from volcanic stone or red lagoon. Distinct facial features are erased, the form merely suggests their anthropomorphic origin leaving room for the imagination to expand and reveal the divine aspect of the new series.
Pessina very consciously keeps a formal division between the plinth and the head. Superimposed blocks of found wood and synthetic stucco compose the plinth or ‘body’, representing the past of human history as well as our personal experiences, while the head represents the mind that defines the future of our human destiny.
‘My herms are good wishes. They embody the passage between a known and uncomfortable present and an unforeseeable future: we have to work on the present to understand the future…My herms aim to serve as a warning...’
Several project drawings on display will be complementing the sculptures: canvases glued to red wood panels, these sketches bear notes that give insight into the conceptions and ideas of ‘Sine Nomine Herma’.
A large-scale sculpture in red and white onyx from Pessina’s ongoing Totem series was specifically realized for the London exhibition and will be placed in the front gallery alongside a selection of so-called “Bidimensionali”, Pessina’s paintings, wherein the familiar Totem forms are applied in relief, the playful compositions bursting with Mediterranean colors.
Born in Magenta (Milan) in 1946, Francesco Pessina studied sculpture at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan and painting at the Ripetta Art Academy in Rome.
In the 1970’s he decided to move to the volcanic island of Filicudi, north of Sicily, where he still lives and works detached from modern city life and the art world. Pessin’a choice of life has led him to become an artist in quest for the anthropological, mystic and spiritual roots of human existence, attempting to expose the essential truth lying at their core.
A short film directed by Alessandro Scippa about Francesco Pessina’s life choice as an artist comprising insights into the artist’s research will be screened in the gallery during the show.