Clemen Parrocchetti




Clemen Parrocchetti was born on May 5, 1923 in Milan, from a family of the ancient Lombard aristocracy. She lived and worked in Milan until the date of her death, 1st of December 2016. After completing her classical studies, after her marriage and the birth of her children, she enrolled at the Brera Academy where she graduated in 1956. Subsequently she attended graphics courses at the University of Urbino. Since 1957, the year of her first review at the Spotorno Gallery in Milan, she exhibited her works in more than fifty solo exhibitions in Italy and abroad, increasingly developing an original research with a strong character, destined to welcome the 68's contesting petitions and to found a feminist language "expressed in things", in line with the political perspective of the demand for unpaid female production and reproduction work, close to - on that date - the Feminist Struggle Movement of Padua with exponents such as Silvia Federici, Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Leopoldina Fortunati. She took part in numerous group exhibitions: in 1977 in Agrigento (Pirandello prize), and in Pavia at the Cairoli University College; in 1978 she exhibited at the Venice Biennale and, again in the same year, she took part in the Michetti International Prize at Francavilla a Mare. In 1979 she exhibited at Palazzo Diamanti in Ferrara, in 82 at the Muestra Internacional de arte Grafica in Bilbao (Spain), in 87 in Ottawa (Canada), in 88 at the Grand Palais Femmes Artistes in Paris. In 2003, in Milan, she held her solo show at the Natural History Museum. In 2005 she was invited to Biella to the group exhibition "Sul filo della lana", in 2006 she held her solo show "Il Filo di Clemen" at Palazzo Spinola in Rocchetta Ligure (Alessandria), in 2008 at the Italian Cultural Institute in Stockholm (Sweden) and, also in 2008, she held a solo show "Myths for women" at Palazzo Guidobono in Tortona. Finally in 2015 she held the exhibition "Living life, always" at the Cortina Gallery in Milan, "The Unexpected Subject. 1978: Art and Feminism in Italy", in 2019 at FM Center for Contemporary Art in Milan and "Rebel Archives" at Villa Era, Biella 2021.
Her artistic production, which began with realistic drawings in the manner of George Grozs, ends at the end of the Sixties in a chromatic explosion with grotesque tones and the symptomatic title of "Love and devouring". It is the writer Dino Buzzati, in 1969 who speaks of these paintings as "strange, colorful fantasies, in which a large quantity of memories seems to mix and be confused. Children's drawings, crazy drawings, pop art, sadism, sex intended as a toy, the carnival festivals of the valley with tournaments of grotesque and diabolical masks ". In the early 1970s she embraced the feminist movement and attended the Movimento Liberazione Donna, branch of Milan. Her works from that period testify to the artist's militancy in the ranks of political protest and in those of art with the desertion of painting. In this regard, Parrocchetti expressed herself as follows: "Protesting is part of my story. I was born in a family and grew up with tough education to which I rebelled from but also partly suffered it. My love for drawing and painting was therapeutic because it helped me untie the inner knots, to free myself from fear and ghosts, to deceive myself of being free". She directed her artistic practice to textile works and exhibited typical materials of female domestic work such as spools, pins, shuttles, threads, thimbles as a sort of toolbox. The poster sewn with red thread on an aluminium plate named "Reminder for an object of female culture" dates back to 1973. Speaking of the extraordinary works of this phase of Parrocchetti, Adele Faccio - one of the first advocates of the right to self-determination of women - writes "Woman as pin-point, woman as a mattress to be beaten, finally woman-object. Humor to the point of sarcasm. Fighting to the victory. A way of expressing oneself that leaves no room for sweet sophistication, nor for the muffled comfort of indolence and conciliation at any cost. "
In 1978 she joined the artistic collective of only women named "Gruppo Immagine of Varese" (Silvia Cibaldi, Milli Gandini, Clemen Parrocchetti, Mariuccia Secol and Mariagrazia Sironi) with which she attended in the Venice Biennale in that same year - through the creation of a common environment - and an exhibition at Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara.
In the Eighties, the artist suffered a serious smash-up but did not stop her production and devoted her activity to creating increasingly larger embroidered tapestries, experimenting with different materials and techniques on textiles.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Clemen Parrocchetti refound a new and happy artistic season, turning a surrealist gaze to the natural and animal world. After a solo show at the Museum of Natural History in Milan in 2003 with textile works inspired by the world of insects, her works were reproposed in 2005 in the group exhibition named "Sul filo della lana" in Biella, and in the latest retrospectives at Palazzo Spinola at Rocchetta Ligure (Alessandria), in 2006; at the Italian Cultural Institute in Stockholm (Sweden) and finally at Palazzo Guidobono in Tortona in 2008. The animals that kept her company had a great presence in her works, the dog Micol, the cat Soffietto, always represented with great fantasy: "Micol flies around Torre Velasca", "The cart of the cats", "The cat, the fox and me".
Even the smallest events of her everyday life, like the moths that devour her clothes, have the power to unleash her imagination as an artist. A naturalistic interest arises in her and drives her to study insects and to always represent them with great irony ("Tarma", "Swooping on cloths", "Erotic dance of two fleas in love") in graphics and three-dimensional works with fabrics and embroidery. Even her deafness, that progressively afflicts her, was represented, starting from 2000 with a series of paintings, embroidered fabrics and graphic works: "Labyrinths of my ears", "Embroidered stools". Her ears, musical notes, eyes, mouth, her animals will continued to be present in her production, reworked and remeant.
Clemen continued to work with her typical tools, like needle, thread, pencils and brushes until the end of her life, with nonstop dedication to her work as an artist.