My relationship with Elisabetta Gut consolidated during her solo exhibition Semi e Segni at the Cortese & Lisanti gallery, curated by Mirella Bentivoglio in 2009. In the following year she was invited by Mirella Bentivoglio to participate with two works in the exhibition Venti libristi, an important event dedicated to the book-object.

Libro foglia, 1990
La natura è incorreggibile, 1990

Another significant moment of our partnership is undoubtedly the Threading Spaces exhibition, curated by me in 2019 at the Repetto gallery in London, thanks to which Elisabetta Gut exhibits in England for the first time. Since then, I have been managing projects dedicated to her on behalf of the Repetto gallery and I also manage the artist Instagram account.

Personal exhibition of Elisabetta Gut at the art Gallery “Il Carpine” in Rome

“In her youth she walked all the steps of a real artistic preparation, with professional precision and then, luckily, she joined the groups of the new experimental poetry. And she made this choice despite having all options open in the field of the pure visual arts; esteemed by artists like Lucio Fontana and rigorous critics like Nello Ponente, she made her decision in total loyalty to herself. In the mix of codes, that is, in the combined use of writing and image, she has rediscovered the freedom from any scheme typical of the childhood, the immediate freshness of mankind and history pervaded by nature.”

Mirella Bentivoglio in Seeds and Signs, 2009

Donna che salta la sedia, 1982
Arabesque, 1986

Elisabetta Gut was born in Rome in 1934 but spent her childhood in Zurich. In Rome she attended the Institute of Art and after an initial painting experience of post-Cubist and eventually of informal imprint, she approached the verbo-visual neo-avantgarde that was emerging in literary circles. She began to experiment the relationship between image and writing, creating collages and assemblages where she added scriptural fragments and plant elements.

Note sfumate, 1983

“For this artist, denial and affirmation are identical. She was the first one to use the wire both as a symbol of deletion and musical notation, as a pentagram and a string for inaudible vibrations at the same time. And it is precisely that surliness that guarantees intensity. The difficult part in operations like these, when taking up an iconography widely characterized as poetic, is the ability to remove it from any established poeticism, to regain, thanks to the magisterium of fantasy, a native freshness within the very structures of culture.”

Mirella Bentivoglio in Plume de Poète, 1989


I met Franca Sonnino in 2007 thanks to Mirella Bentivoglio, on the occasion of the exhibition Pages Image. In 2010, I invited her to exhibit two works in the exhibition Venti libristi, curated by Bentivoglio herself for the Cortese & Lisanti gallery. Over the years our collaboration has intensified and in 2019 she took part in the Threading Spaces exhibition, curated by me for the Repetto Gallery. Since then, Franca Sonnino is part of the London gallery team and presented her works in the major international fairs. My commitment for the promotion of her work articulates in a multiyear structured plan, which includes different curatorial exhibition and editorial projects, the identification of partnerships, the design and management of her social accounts and website, the creation and management of her archive.

From left: Luigi Scialanga, Franca Sonnino, Mirella Bentivoglio, Maria Lai, 1980

Sonninos, Repettos and me

Franca Sonnino was born in Rome in 1932. After graduating in Literature, she began her artistic career in the early 1970s, dedicating herself to painting under the guidance of Maria Lai. Franca will remember her:

“I turned to Maria to take drawing lessons. At first, she always kept forgetting that promise, I had to chase her… Then, we started, but slowly. But I didn’t like drawing so much. She said it was not essential to know how to draw. I stopped and then started working with my hands, with the thread since I used to knit a lot. I understood that by beginning from a material that was already familiar to me I could do many other things.”

The thread, already present as the subject of her paintings, will soon become her privileged medium, definitively replacing the brush from the late 1970s. In this regard, Mirella Bentivoglio writes:

“Franca Sonnino is an artist who feels the space and, despite using a minute medium like the thread,” she makes space”. This artist redeems the domesticity of the thread in the breadth of the context where it is put; she made bricks of wire, and walls with these bricks, almost as a challenge to a millenarian absence of the woman – the weaver – from the construction of the house, which was her prison and her kingdom.”

Muro appeso al chiodo, 1982
Place Vendôme, 1987

Franca Sonnino’s work does not follow rigorous mathematical rules, but it is rather dictated by an inner poetic drive, linked to an irrational emotional impulse, which is at the same time sensorial. The art historian Franca Zoccoli summarizes as follows:

“Sonnino’s works come to fruition by slow progression, with organic growth, segment after segment, knitting knots one by one. Like nature’s products, they reject abstract Euclidean rigor, they are never regular or perfectly symmetrical.”

Libro nero and Libro con scrittura, Artissima, Turin, 2019
Campi coltivati 2, 1988


I met Mirella Bentivoglio in 2007, while organizing an exhibition on Shu Takahashi. She called me because she owned a work of the Japanese artist and wanted to sell it, so I went to see it. The thing that struck me most was her extreme vitality. She quickly showed me Takahashi’s work and then started talking about her work. From then on, we started a friendship that greatly influenced my way of seeing art and not only art.

Opening of I silenzi di Anna Torelli, 2008

Mirella Bentivoglio was born in Klagenfurt in 1922 to Italian parents. From the earliest youth she wrote poetry books both in Italian and English. She later felt the calling for the joint use of verbal language and image, linking herself to the international neo-avant-garde of the second half of the Twentieth century. Her research focuses on the playful or disturbing relationship between language and image that she elaborates in the form of “object poetry”, installations and performances with the use of recurrent symbols such as the egg, the book, the tree.

The book-object is one of the central themes of her artistic and critical production. Her wide culture and depth of vision allow her to direct the developments of the experiments on the subject matter, also intervening to support the work of other artists. In fact, Mirella Bentivoglio soon became the reference point for a large group of artists, but above all female artists, operating in Italy and abroad from the 1960s.

In 1978 she curated the Materialization of Language exhibition for the Venice Biennale, where she exhibited works by 80 Italian and foreign artists, whose research focused on the relationship between language and image. After decades this review remains a unicum that gives us an overview of the state of female art in the 1970s, certainly on the edgeof the establishment and the market, but precisely for this reason capable of expressing total freedom and authentic experimentation.

Autoritratto in auto (e fuori), 2004

As Bentivoglio explains in the exhibition catalog, “women’s poetry often tends to specularity, circularity, complementarity, to a subtle or violent primarization. And if it is true that in its final result the poetic expression, either of a man or a woman, is always total, hermaphrodite, it is also true that the grouping of many works from disparate times and places highlights certain constants of choices and of proceedings.”

With Leonetta Bentivoglio at the exhibition Il soggetto imprevisto. 1978 Arte e Femminismo in Italia, Frigoriferi Milanesi, Milano, 2019

Da forte a pianissimo, 1980
Exhibition catalog Materializzazione del linguaggio, Magazzini del Sale alle Zattere, Venice, 1978
Fou/lard (Il foulard folle), 1971
Strutture simboliche – E, mutilazione per accentuazione, 1978

When Mirella arrives at the Cortese & Lisanti gallery, along with this enormous wealth of experience, a fruitful collaboration begins, giving new and unexpected direction to my work. Between 2007 and 2011 Mirella Bentivoglio participated in numerous gallery exhibitions, both as curator and as an artist, bringing prominent names such as Franca Sonnino, Elisabetta Gut, Antonio Del Donno, Bruno Conte, Emilio Villa, Gisella Meo, Anna Torelli, Chima Sunada, Giustina Prestento and Chiara Diamantini.

After her death in Rome in 2017, I renewed my commitment to promoting her work by helping the family through the creation and management of a digital archive, a website, her official Instagram profile, managing authentications and public relations.

Pannello per finestra di città. Addio (agli alberi), 1971