A Feminine Lexicon: Helena Hladilová In Her Own Words


The new digital project “A Feminine Lexicon” by Arts Curating students Pia Diamandis and Elena Tortelli opened in May at museo.ferragamo.com. Their project took inspiration from Museo Salvatore Ferragamo’s “Women in Balance” an exhibition curated by Stefania Ricci and Elvira Valleri that celebrates the history of Italian women during the economic boom and the rapid changes in their identities. “A Feminine Lexicon” continues this conversation into what is considered feminine today through the works of eleven international contemporary artists and their testimonies. In the digital exhibition, through audio recordings, all the artists describe their works and how they relate to a larger feminine lexicon in their own words. An excerpt of these reflections is gathered here for I’M Firenze Digest readers as a way to help them dive deeper into the exhibition.


By Pia Diamandis & Elena Tortelli. Cover image: Helena Hladilová, Tyvole, 2022, bardiglio marble, watercolor. Photo: Camilla Maria Santini. Courtesy of the artist and SpazioA, Pistoia.

“A Feminine Lexicon” artists include visual artist Helena Hladilová (b. 1983, Kroměříž, The Czech Republic). Her work navigates her experience of motherhood, finding amazement in subjects and the forming of inner life and her children’s unbridled imagination that are part of nature.

In “A Feminine Lexicon”, Helena Hladilová showcases a series of marble sculptures, embodying the numerous bedtime stories that the artist, a young mother, tells her children. Made of marble, mineral inserts, and watercolours, the sculptures are the translation of a private, intimate tale the artist uses to describe her world to her children. 

Helena Hladilová’s marble sculptures are featured in the Kins section of the exhibition “A Feminine Lexicon”, underlining the links, bonds and connections that we make, as Donna Haraway suggests, inside and outside our blood ties.

The Kins section features works by Monia Ben Hamouda, Helena Hladilová, Lebohang Kganye, and Alice Visentin.

Helena Hladilová, Rachanda, 2021, white Carrara marble, travertino, watercolor. Photo: Camilla Maria Santini. Courtesy of the artist and SpazioA, Pistoia

PD, ET: How would you best describe your recent marble bas-relief? Where did the idea to make them come from?

HH: Although prior to motherhood my production focused mainly on rearranging elements and objects that existed in the world spontaneously, almost as if I were expressing my amazement at the imaginative forces of Nature, after motherhood my work has become more manual, and I no longer seek that same amazement in creations from the outside world, no longer in objects but in their subject matter. Particularly in shaping the soul and unbridled imagination of my children, who are also part of Nature anyway.

Helena Hladilová, Tanuki, 2021, white Carrara marble, moresco brown, watercolor. Photo: Camilla Maria Santini. Courtesy of the artist and SpazioA, Pistoia

A momentary departure from the art scene led to a return to the fantastic and playful realm of my children, a world of stories in which matter is not always constant but constantly changing. If on one hand this theme is based on a child’s imagination, on the other it reveals my need to adapt to my new dual role as a mother and as an artist, the bridging of imaginary and real, domestic, and social, family and work dimensions. And while in the first part of my career I was amazed at what the world had created, singling it out and then presenting it as works, in this second phase I am presented with my own amazement emerging from the relationship with what I have brought into the world.

Helena Hladilová, Perinbaba, 2022. Bardiglio marble, onyx, watercolor. Photo: Camilla Maria Santini. Courtesy of the artist and SpazioA, Pistoia

PD, ET: As we consider your work deeply rooted in the kinships and bonds that you are continuously creating inside and outside your family environment, what is your relationship with traditions, memory and family ties?

HH: I feel a distinction should be made between memory and family ties. While memory reaches back in time and is not necessarily linked to reality, it can vary and blur, family ties are the opposite, built on the reality of the present, with a view to the future. My works are somewhere in the middle, between these two different perspectives. I use durable materials, connected to an idea of commemorating the past, although my subjects come from imaginary tales, intimate stories resulting from the way I live the present.


A Feminine Lexicon is an online exhibition curated by Pia Diamandis and Elena Tortelli, students in Arts Curating at Istituto Marangoni Firenze for Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, available at museo.ferragamo.com.

Helena Hladilová is a visual artist. She lives and works in Tuscany, Italy.
Pia Diamandis and Elena Tortelli are undergraduate students in Arts Curating at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.

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