The Voeten Collection represents a unique combination of both Belgian and international works. Currently it comprises over 1700 art pieces that have been collected during a period of more than 40 years. They are exhibited in two separate locations – at the Art Center close to Herentals and at the sculpture park near Gheel.

Novello Finotti

Donna Tartaruga, 1997, bronze, 75 x 184 x 106 cm, ed. 3/3

Verona, city of love that was immortalized by Shakespeare in his tragedy 'Romeo and Juliet', is the hometown of the Italian sculptor Novello Finotto. He was born here in 1939. Emotions are omnipresent in this city. And these emotions inspired Finotti clearly in his work. He made for example the work Homage to Shakespeare (1980 - 1984), a series of 22 marble sculptures, an assemblage of symbolic wreckages that recall dreamlike emotions and the drama of a story.

Art critic Giorgio De Genova defines Finotti as "one of the biggest sculptors of our generation". His great talent enabled him to express himself perfectly in different materials. Over and over, he manages to enchant the spectator with the imaginary character of his works. Finotti studied at the Gignaroli Academy, located in his hometown Verona. His career started in 1958 with an exhibition about sacred art in Assisi. A first solo-exhibition was organized in 1964 in New York. He took part in the Biennial of Venice in 1966. After this, lots of exhibition in Italy and abroad followed. Finotti mainly works with marble and bronze. The tradition of Italian masters, like Michelangelo (16th century), Bernini (17th century) and Canova (18th century), functioned as a fruitful source of inspiration regarding his technical skills and choice of materials. Novello Finotti is classically trained but his oeuvre demonstrates a personal evolution and specific touch.

The theme of metamorphosis, like the way that dreams and reality melt together, functions as main principle in the oeuvre of Finotti. Several sculptures show the fusion of bodies belonging to different creatures. When we take a look at the work represented in the image, we see the shield of a turtle intertwined with the spine and thighs of a human figure. Four feet can be distinguished out of this imaginary figure. Donna Tartaruga testifies of the vulnerability of the human body. Regarding their evolution, Turtles mainly invested in the development of a good defense mechanism. This resulted in their relatively strong shield, which only a few enemies can crunch. Turtles are usually seen as peaceful and loving animals. Some kinds are even more and more popular in domestic environments. For this Donna Tartaruga, the artist was inspired by a scene that he saw happening on the beach: a mother playing with her child in a curved and bended position. The vulnerability of the child is protected by the shield (formed by the back) of the mother.

The Turtle is one of the oldest living creatures on earth. This could be the reason why this animal, in many cultures, symbolizes a long life, endurance and perseverance. She refers to mother earth and functions as a powerful symbol of protection. The turtle can hide herself in her shield, a quality that demonstrates a remarkable self-defense mechanism.

The sculptures of Novello Finotti are attractive and seductive; in particular the human details like legs, fingers and feet. The images don't move, but seem to speak to us. They soften and stimulate dialogues. The images of Finotti are characterized by a sweet intimacy. They are an expression of his amiable astonishment, fed by his hometown, his Verona.

Novello Finotti lives and works in Sommacampagna, a village near Verona. He realized several clerical assignments. Amongst them: the gates and images at the façade of the Basilica Saint Giustina in Padua (1998-2001) and the gilded, elegant branches with flowers on the sarcophagus of Paus Johannes XXIII in the Saint Peters church in Rome (2001).

His works are solidified emotions, clotted in marble, granite or bronze. Dreams and reality are melted together. His enthusiasm for the surrealism of René Magritte is expressed in a sensitive, personal manner accumulated in a autonomous creativity. Every work suggests the idea of lightness, some kind of nostalgic expression of human emotions.

Finotti made several versions in different materials of his Donna Tartaruga: a bozzetto in gesso, made in 1983 for the Museo dei Bozzetti in Pietrasanta, a sculpture in carrara marble from 1983-1984, now in the Collection Ferro in Padua and a version in Belgian marble with a beetle on the back, from 1987, now part of a private collection.

Text: Myriam Geurts, September 2015