Luca Freschi is makes dolls, feminine simulacra that seem to be waiting for the magic word to be placed between their teeth – just like in Jewish tradition – to start moving and obeying orders. Or as in Hoffman’s tale of Olympia, Professor Spalanzani’s automaton daughter, who makes a man fall hopelessly in love just by the blink of her eyelashes and her unperturbed expression, whenever she is spoken to. Another analogy that might spring to mind is the exquisite but alarming fabric doll reproducing Alma Mahler that Kokoschka ordered from a woman toymaker, after Alma betrayed and abandoned the painter. But no. Luca’s dolls have the modesty and chastity of metaphysical mannequins or wooden marionettes. They are stiff-limbed and hard-jointed puppets wearing decorous, vaguely Nordic looking bonnets that hide their hair.
His painted terracotta casts are fragments of bodies recomposed with the affectionate patience that broken china deserves. They are life-size women, cocoons without the warmth and softness of skin, but they preserve the pose and form of the beloved ones – friends and relatives - who let themselves be wrapped and cast in plaster like fossils in a personal memory. Sometimes these giant chrysalises, similar to Madonnas and saints on old altars, have a private dowry hand-sewn with the care of a bride, and in their naked busts, whitewashed like Mediterranean houses, they host the joyful and airy drawings of children, signs which reproduce, in the fantastic grammar of beginners, the image of a person, a playful, founding vision of the Other than Self.
Text by Sabrina Foschini