Paws on the handlebars, perched on the seat. Both with handkerchiefs around their necks. But the 'real' Corgi (the breed so loved by Elizabeth II), smiling on a Vespa has ousted the movie star Audrey Hepburn, who, in the role of Princess Ann, made the Piaggio scooter famous all over the world (together with Gregory Peck) . Oil on canvas: chicks struggling with yoga, gladiator mice at the Colosseum, cigar and whiskey for the bulldog 'boss'. The ‘Roman Holidays’ are back in the capital, after more than half a century, in 'pop' version. The ride on a Vespa amidst the wonders of Rome–celebrated by the Oscar-winning film–makes way for 40 works by the Taiwanese-American artist, Lucia Heffernan. The paintings will be exhibited, for her debut in Europe, until October 16, at the Mastroianni Gallery in the museums of San Salvatore in Lauro in the center of Rome.
Bright and eye-catching colors. The wooden panels come alive with precisely executed portraits of animals smoking, riding motorbikes and driving cars, sipping aperitifs, eating ice creams or posing for a selfie. Vices and virtues of us humans. The artist's great technique (very famous in the US and semi-unknown in Europe) thus acts as a counterpoint to the irony, humor and decidedly 'pop' edge of the exhibition. So much so that the vernissage also attracted many young people.
“Animals are like us,” explains Heffernan speaking to Mag 1861. “They love children all their life, they have a great protective instinct. I hope to give them a voice through my paintings.” Graphic designer and painter, Heffernan has always been an animal lover. Born in Taiwan, she moved to the United States due to her father’s job as an officer in the air force. She grew up on mega farms in upstate New York and now lives in Utah (“where there is the most beautiful snow in the world”). And inspiration is always 'lurking': the house is full of dogs, cats, rabbits and chickens, who serve as her 'models'. Lucia Heffernan's love for animals is expressed in the ring on her finger. "My husband asked me to marry him by giving me an American bulldog puppy that had an engagement ring attached to its collar.”
This artist has “a strong pop style, usable by young audiences who love manga culture,” explains Iginio Straffi, president and founder of the Rainbow group, and organizer of the exhibition. “Rome,” continues Straffi, “needs to be helped in terms of image with events and initiatives. We must try to bring the central importance of the world of art and culture back to the capital.”
The wooden panels come alive with precisely executed portraits of animals smoking, riding motorbikes and driving cars, sipping aperitifs, eating ice creams or posing for a selfie
Neither a cat nor a she-wolf. Or perhaps Rome is a combination of both and other animals too. “I can't think of a specific animal when I think of Rome,” observes the painter, “because it is a city with many different sides. It's crazy, vibrant, has great food, fantastic fashion, and buzzes like New York City.” And the painting of the gladiator mouse, the artist assures us, is not the result of an unexpected encounter on the sidewalks of the city. “I haven't seen a mouse since I've been here,” she swears. But time will tell ...
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