Interview to Maria Gabriella Mazzola

di Ilaria Ferri

Together with her family, she has headed a leading company in the trade of aluminium profiles for over 50 years. A company with a human face that constantly looks to innovation and that is the only supporter of an international contemporary art award. The deep knowledge of the material combined with the passion for art allows her during each edition of the COMEL Award to competently evaluate the processing and enhancement of aluminium.

With your family, you run a company that deals with the trade of aluminium profiles. How did you come up with the idea of ​​creating an award where aluminium is the protagonist, but used in a completely different guise from what you are used to seeing and treating?

Our company COMEL has always been aimed at supporting artistic and cultural initiatives such as exhibitions, artistic calendars, publications about our territory. These sponsorships have always represented an alternative system of corporate communication, and they certainly diversified us in our sector. They have also considerably helped the realization of projects capable of setting in motion the energies of our city. The idea of ​​doing something that was directly linked to our business has always been one of our projects. As Jules Verne states in ‘From the Earth to the Moon’, aluminium “has the whiteness of silver, the inalterability of gold, the tenacity of iron, the fusibility of copper and the lightness of glass” and therefore why not make it precious also in the art world? And here comes the idea of ​​the COMEL Award: to encourage the creativity of artists and invite them to deal with this splendid metal.

The COMEL Award is dedicated to the memory of your mother who was a great lover of art, speaking of this, what was her example and what was her teaching?

Right after the sudden death of my mother, we looked for a way to face such a difficult moment for the whole family and we decided to give life to the award by naming it after her. Mom was, with dad, a great example of generosity and altruism. She loved her family and others, always present and available to everyone, even in supporting ideas and projects. Her passion for art, her incredible dynamism and her being welcoming and hospitable have guided us over the years.

Maria Gabriella and Adriano Mazzola

What are the values ​​underlying the COMEL Award? What are the principles that move the entire organization and care of the event from the announcement to the final exhibition and the personal exhibitions of the winners?

In recent years, the phrase that I have often heard from artists, and which involves me emotionally, is that the COMEL award is different from other Contemporary Art prizes. It is different because, in addition to being dedicated to this specific material, it comes from a feeling. The attention and care of each phase are essential, we do it with professionalism, but also with a lot of passion. The meeting and the privity with the finalist artists become afterward something precious, enriching and it often lasts incredibly over time.

The COMEL Award has reached its eighth edition, many works have passed before your eyes, has there been an evolution in recent years regarding the works and your method of judgment?

There are so many works that I have had the pleasure and thrill of viewing during the last eight years. Techniques, compositions, such incredible studies; the challenge launched by the Award to create, using and exploiting all the wonderful characteristics of aluminium, was welcomed by artists from all over Europe and even further, and went well beyond the initial predictions. Aluminium leaves room for artists’ creative solutions and in each edition, it becomes increasingly difficult to select only 13 finalist works. My role is to evaluate how aluminium is enhanced, taking into account the technique and the subject, but also the poetics, because even behind a cold metal in recent years I have perceived a lot of poetry.

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