Poesia e Magia / Poetry & Magic – Celebrating Anita Seppilli

Exhibition at the Italian Cultural Institute, 39 Belgrave Square, 7 – 30 November, Monday-Friday 10am-5pm, FREE. Curated by Katia Pizzi and Ben Thomas.

Anita Schwarzkopf Seppilli (Fiume 1902- Perugia 1991), was an Italian anthropologist whose major publications included, above all, Poesia e magia (1962 with further editions in 1971 and 1982), but also Sacralità dell’acqua e sacriliegio dei ponti (1977) and Alla ricerca del senso perduto (1986). Her initial scholarly interests were literary, but her work became increasingly concerned with anthropological, ethnological and psychological themes while she was living in Brazil from 1939 to 1947. Seppilli argued in Poesia e magia that poetry evolved out of magic, and that traces of ancient rituals and magical beliefs could be discovered in epic poems like Homer’s Iliad. She believed that the classical culture of Italy should not be treated as an idol, but that it could be deepened and enriched by pursuing connections across cultures, borders and disciplines.

This exhibition, and the series of events connected with it, celebrate Anita Seppilli’s extraordinary originality by exploring the magical and mytho-poetic topics of her classic study Poesia e magia in the context of contemporary London. Among the works included in the exhibition are paintings by Stephen Chambers RA inspired by William Blake (Two Black Angels, Scissors and Harvest), Marcelle Hanselaar’s series of etchings Rebel Women of the Apocrypha, Ana Maria Pacheco’s series of large drypoints Dark Event and An Ancient Dark Night Descended on My Soul, and faithful reproductions of William Blake’s relief etchings by Michael Phillips. Also on display is a surrealist-inspired photography and poetry piece, The Sacrilege of Bridges, created by Junko Theresa Mikuriya and Ben Thomas especially for this show.

During the course of this exhibition, Pacheco’s most recent sculptural group, Remember, can be viewed at Studio 3 Gallery at the University of Kent, Canterbury. The exhibition is open from Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm and continues to 15 December, 2023. Free admission.