Federico Melis (Bosa 1891 – Urbania 1969), Profile of Ollolai woman
Painted ceramic cm 10 x 10 with stamp showing signature (Melis-Sardegna) on the back.
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Trained at the school of Francesco Ciusa, already in the early Twenties, Federico Melis gains a prominent place in the history of the great Sardinian ceramic tradition, reaching the realization of hot cooking of the pieces, a technique that he experiments in an oven at Assemini. At the second trade union exhibition in 1931, the artist himself recalled his long labors, before obtaining the desired result: “If I lost ten years to study the technique of ceramics (learn the very young!), I did it to take possession of the matter in order to make it docile and obedient to my spiritual possibilities”.
Particularly taken care of in the form, synthetic and stylized, and characterized by chromatic sobriety corresponding to the strong Déco taste of the time, the ceramics of Federico Melis, inspired by an exclusive regionalism, are fundamental steps for the Sardinian art in XX century. The intent to ennoble the folklore of the island was the main inspiring reason for him, even when in 1932 he moved to Rome, where he opened a workshop in collaboration with his brother Melkiorre.
Sardinia finds in the production of Melis a new form of artistic expression that enhances the variety of myths and stories: mystical women gathered in prayer, knights and warriors with the scepter in fist on fantastic horses, figures of brides in their costumes of brocades and gold, girls of Barbagia.
History and legend come together in the iconographic repertoire created by the master of Bosa, who had the merit of identifying a vein then virgin and now very current, the Phoenician subject in Sardinian sculpture and to broadly expand the range of typological solutions of local female figures, adding, among others, to the gallery of pre-existing models, the sulcitana, the olianese and especially the woman of Ollolai on which marked his masterpiece of the Sardinian period, “The ancient Bride”, performed in 1930. Just this iconographic model can be in all likelihood, the profile of this woman is brought back with the classic red headdress, the shirt with the sleeves decorated with floral motifs and the wide skirt that recalls the carmine of the cap.