The Enchanted Woods
When a competition is conceived it always has lots of fathers, and - in times of genetic manipulation - mothers too; whatever the case, we are grateful to one and all.
The international “The Enchanted Woods” competition made its début in 2000, with just one section given over to short stories, painting, sculpture and murals; three years later the idea came about with Remo Palmirani and don Giuseppe Truglia to dedicate a section to Ex Libris.
As always happens, this competition brings with it something of its own past, but also the embryos of what will be its future: reinventing itself on each occasion in a natural evolution that also takes account of the suggestions of artists and enthusiasts. Linking the old with the new is never easy, yet our competition remains true to the memory of its source of inspiration, with the idea of the Bosco (Wood) as a magical, financial and tourist resource, drawing a connection between Ex Libris with personal affairs and stories, and Short Stories with flights of fancy.
“The Enchanted Woods” is another dimension: a dip into the memory of stories, fables and tales that popular tradition everywhere has dedicated to an imaginary world, and that often happen to be identical in different parts of the globe. Stories that we want to bring together with Ex Libris on a never-ending journey. Although we requested the co-operation of the Dante Alighieri and other schools, their response to our competition (the short story section) was disappointing.
What happened? How is our competition perceived? Mixing short stories and Ex Libris may have been misleading, or perhaps our efforts were focused on the artistic section, neglecting the short story section?
We believe that is what happened: that our commitment to involving the school was considerable, the response less so. The fact is that the world of the school is particularly complex to deal with.
At this point, it becomes inevitable to wonder whether we can continue linking the short stories with the Ex Libris section? Maybe, but in any case we are suspending the Schools section for a moment’s reflection. Meanwhile, an idea of the school and of the students who “live” it emerges from the short stories again: not an idyllic picture, but nevertheless one which reflects our society: death, a ferocious imagination, and pessimism. Returning to the subject of art however, Piedmont is recognized nationally as the Region with the highest concentration of collections of contemporary art, and our collections have been included in a major census of centres of contemporary art throughout the entire region.
Now we come to the Ex Libris: they have a propaedeutic component that may make it easier to love (and collect) both contemporary and past artwork, and give more visibility to the engravers of today, because the vitality of the Ex Libris world is certainly superior to that of so-called free graphics. The main feature of this year’s “IThe Enchanted Woods” compared to the previous edition was that this time entry was free and extended to Italian and foreign artists, rather than only being open to specially-invited artists selected from the leading exponents of the genre. The number of works was considerable, though somewhat lacking compared to the past in distinguished foreign entries.
Invitations reached Italy, Russia, Turkey and France, Belarus and Lithuania, and China, Argentina and Japan, and the response was significant, though not always in accordance with the regulations of the competition. This is why significant works had to be excluded, irrespective of their appeal and content. Ex Libris experts, who know all the artists who are active in every part of the world, will find various prestigious names here, but they will also have the surprise of seeing the work of engravers (and schools) who are (at last) approaching the world of Ex Libris for the first time. Everyone else, who knows little or nothing about Ex Libris and the art of engraving, will (we are sure) appreciate the creativity and variety of so many works inspired by fairy tales and myths, legends and dreams, collective or private as they may be. The work of the jury was not easy, setting out as it did to give priority to all the works which complied with the regulations. In complete freedom and with no pre-conceptions, we have named a foreigner as winner.
We must end with a well-deserved thank you to all the artists who chose to take part in this venture, in the hope that we will able to count on their precious co-operation again for the next edition of our competition.