We The Italians | Italian art: Volumnia

Italian art: Volumnia

Italian art: Volumnia

  • WTI Magazine #121 Nov 17, 2019
  • 44

The Church of Sant'Agostino in Piacenza, in Emilia Romagna, an impressive sixteenth-century building designed by Bernardino Panizzari and overlooking the "Stradone Farnese" of the city, rises to a new life under the banner of contemporary art.

Owned by the State Property Office, the church, which was deconsecrated until the 1980s, has been used for events and exhibitions, and was then definitively closed for security reasons. An asset that Piacenza was deprived of until a few months ago, when the gallery owner Enrica De Micheli, through a call for tenders promoted by the State Property Office for the concession of its assets, won the space, thus transforming the church into the new home of its art gallery: Volumnia.

The gallery inaugurated its activity with an exhibition dedicated to the designer Gabriella Crespi who, especially in the sixties and seventies, distinguished herself for the originality of the objects she designed and made with wood, metal, stone and lacquer, and for the ability to transform objects with openings, closures, changes in function. The exhibition includes over thirty objects and furnishings from the collection of gallery owner Enrica De Micheli, from various private collections and from the Gabriella Crespi Archive.

The Church of Sant'Agostino is a basilica of three thousand square meters with five naves: it is even larger than the cathedral of Piacenza, it was closed by different problems of statics and the need for a comprehensive restoration. The whole project began with the announcement launched by the State Property Office, which with a new and innovative policy decided to grant concessions throughout Italy to various sites owned by it to recover and enhance them.

De Micheli had been working as an antiques dealer for twenty-five years and had been looking for a space where to move her gallery and give a different turn to its work, also organizing contemporary art exhibitions. She decided to take part in the call for proposals: the process began in July 2017, and in December she learned that she had obtained the church. She then began the restoration work inside the building, curated by the architect Enrico De Benedetti, and opened the gallery in October 2018.

What Enrica De Micheli has in mind, however, is not just a "simple" gallery. She is still working to open a bistro in an area outside the church, in a very interesting courtyard that was once a carpentry: in this courtyard will rise a garden with a restaurant. In addition, the gallery owner is planning to create a bookshop: her goal is to create a cultural center, which is open and in communication with the city. A dialogue has already been started with the museums of Piacenza, which have asked Volumnia to join their network. For the inauguration of October 2018, De Micheli asked them to be able to borrow some of their works, and now the collaboration will continue with a project that provides to exhibit in the spaces of the church the works kept in storage. They have already begun with the exhibition of Gabriella Crespi, with the exhibition of ten works from the Ricci Oddi Gallery.