From Turin to Catania: the Sandretto Collection meets the Catania Baroque.

In the historic center of Catania, a few steps from Piazza del Duomo, where once the shape of the city looked decidedly different, with the sea much closer and touching the city and its center, Palazzo Biscari was one of the first sites that any traveler who had just arrived in Catania noticed and admired.

The building, whose work was entrusted to the architect Alonzo di Benedetto, looks like a real jewel of the Catania baroque. Strongly desired by Prince Ignazio Paternò Castello, the ‘Great’, a scientist, an inventor and collector at the same time, descendant of the Biscari family, shortly after the disastrous earthquake that struck the city of Catania in January 1693 and which was built in agreement to the sixteenth-century walls built under Charles V, it was conceived as an immense residence that honored the city of Catania with its breadth and beauty.

Large entrance courtyard with a double ramp staircase; party room with majolica floor and frescoed vault, in rococo style; “cloud flake” shaped staircase from which one ascends to the area reserved for musicians; terrace overlooking the city with portals and cherubs in limestone. All elements that still today make the Palazzo undisputed jewel of the early eighteenth century.

And it is precisely in this sumptuous setting that for some years contemporary art has come to life, giving life to a perfect union that has no equal between the art of the past and the art of the present, in which nothing is contaminated but rather converses with history.

The history of Palazzo Biscari as an exhibition venue dates back to the Eighteenth Century, when the Palace became a museum, with objects recovered directly by Prince Ignazio during his travels and that transformed this almost into a Wunderkammer.For this new occasion the doors of the Palace open for a selection of works of art from the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection, in a project curated by Ludovico Pratesi and Pietro Scammacca, in collaboration with the Turin Foundation chaired by Patrizia Sandretto and Unfold.

The Collection branches off into two different exhibitions: the first, which includes an environmental installation, WeltenLinie, by the artist Alicja Kwade, in the Salone delle Feste, on display until August 24; the second, a collective of 20 artists, The analogous room, in the apartments of the Levante wing, on display until 7 September.WeltenLinie (from the German “world line”), produced for the 57th Venice Biennale, looks like a huge set of mirrors and steel structures that give life to an environment inhabited by mirrors in which objects multiply and everything seems to be moving.

The installation, with a steel structure, presents four immense mirrors that are reflected on both sides and next to which we find stones of different shapes and colors; it fits perfectly with the Salone delle Feste creating a direct link with the ornamental interiors of the Palazzo, thus also entering into the illuminist and esoteric vision of its own client, Ignazio.

The gigantic work dialogues not only with the environment and its mirrors, but also with the viewer himself, as it leads him to take a walk inside the work itself which, thanks to its composition, evokes the idea of ​​a garden-maze and leads him to be curious about being mirrored to find almost confirmation of his presence within the path; the real that meets the dream, the call to the Baroque and the contemporary expression, the game of mirrors as a search for oneself, allow the visitor to get lost or find himself within the monumental work, becoming an active part and performing an almost performative act.

The Ala di Levante (open to the public for the first time), as already mentioned, hosts the collective entitled The analogous room and wants to pay homage to the room itself called ” of Don Quixote ” because it is decorated with paintings that depict the character of the Spanish novel by Cervantes. 20 artists of different generations and nationalities take part in the exhibition and, like Don Quixote, work on that very thin line that separates reality from fiction through different artistic expressions.

The artists: Ludovica Carbotta, James Casebere, Roberto Cuoghi, Flavio Favelli, Katharina Fritsch, Anna Gaskell, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Douglas Gordon, Louise Lawler, Renato Leotta, Sherrie Levine, Katja Novitskova, Tony Oursler, Philippe Parreno, Nicolas Party, Paul Pfeiffer, Laure Prouvost, Magali Reus, David Shrigley.

A sumptuous and majestic noble residence in the heart of the city, that of Palazzo Biscari, which opens its doors to artistic research, to novelty, to new art languages ​​and which makes the history of the Palazzo itself become a key to understanding how much of alchemy can hide behind the message dictated to us by contemporary works, whose contents, sometimes not clearly decodable, manage to come to life in this setting almost as if it were a game in which each card is discovered.


Palazzo Biscari CataniaWeltenLinie, Alicja Kwade. Photo Luca Guarneri

WeltenLinie, Alicja Kwade. Photo Luca Guarneri

La stanza analoga Photo Luca GuarneriLa stanza analoga. Photo Luca Guarneri

La stanza analoga. Photo Luca Guarneri

La stanza analoga. Photo Luca Guarneri

Paludi by Giuseppe Agnello at La Verde la Malfa Foundation. When matter penetrates artistic thought with a message of metamorphosis

In San Giovanni la Punta, a small town near Catania, the La Verde La Malfa Foundation- Parco dell’Arte was established in 2008 by the will of Elena La Verde, born in 1933. Versatile and passionate artist, she expresses herself in various forms from poetry to painting, sculpture, graphics, photography and installations. The latter, 19 in total, are today protagonists in the Art Park of the La Verde La Malfa Foundation, works that take it out of the traditional canons and soon include it in the schedule of women Sicilian revolutionary artists.

Elena La Verde passed away in May 2012, leaving a space for contemporary art and above all an experimental place of promotion, continuous research and protection of the local cultural and artistic heritage, making the Foundation one of the most visible Sicilian contemporary realities at national and international level.

And it is precisely in this space, that the “Paludi” exhibition by the Sicilian sculptor Giuseppe Agnello was inaugurated to the public on June 22nd in the exhibition hall of the La Verde Foundation La Malfa – Parco dell’Arte. He studies and investigates nature, a source from which to draw to extract thoughts, concepts and forms to give life to his art, using natural elements above all (”Paludi” exhibition curated by Daniela Fileccia, promoted and conceived by the president of the Alfredo la Malfa Foundation and by Dario Cunsolo, with the patronage of the municipality of San Giovanni la Punta (CT) and the Academy of Fine Arts of Palermo).

Giuseppe Agnello was born in Racalmuto, near Agrigento, in 1962 and attended the sculpture school of the Academy of Fine Arts of Palermo, graduating in 1985. He is currently Professor of Sculpture and Sculpture Techniques at the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo. He has made several public works both in Italy and abroad; he is the author of the famous bronze portrait of the writer Leonardo Sciascia, located in his hometown, and of the bronze sculpture dedicated to the famous Commissary Salvo Montalbano, a character created by the writer Andrea Camilleri, in Porto Empedocle.

For the exhibition at La Verde Foundation La Malfa Agnello presented works belonging to the most recent production, some of these works-installations, united by the matter and specifically the ‘calcareous-cementitious’ material with the aim of referring to the process of fossilization.

The “Paludi” exhibition thus marks the fossilization of humanity that finds itself in a continuous state of immobility and material and psychological fragility.

In the past the artist has worked on a very precise process of ”metamorphosis”, a process that inevitably marks the movement, but now with Paludi Agnello wants to tell us about a humanity that has fossilized in a condition of fragility and emotional weakness that prevents the reaction.

Bodies, in which matter and color become the protagonists of a message, which become cocoons, in a state of fossilization that is perhaps the greatest wish for better times, for a humanity that can respond-react and return to its origin; bodies of stone, heavy bodies, already starting from the head, from which ideas start, heavy for the discomfort of a humanity that does not act and permanently loses the human form: reality clashes with surreality.

M.S Let’s start with ‘Paludi’ in which nature is the absolute protagonist of a process that sees this as the basis of inspiration for every form of art. How did the chosen subject succeed in penetrating your thought so that every single sculpture came to life?
G.A. Now I think I have acquired some experiences, even on a technical level which, following all I think, I can find an implementation solution. Usually I start from a vision that is the driving force of a project, then I begin to experiment with materials that help me to achieve the goal, and as I develop the practical work of the choices more suited to the original idea that is in my mind, I just try to materialize it. But in this passage I am never rigid, I often change in the various aesthetic checks. Sometimes the idea is ripped off in different forms or compositions, as in the case of “Paludi”.

How has the concept of metamorphosis helped you develop the path of ‘Marshes’?
Nothing arises by chance, every project springs from a previous vision, and it is all linked. In 2013, in one of my exhibitions at the Carlo V tower entitled memories / side and oblique views, the metamorphosis characterized the works on display. Some have identified references to Ovid and Bernini, for me metamorphoses are an almost surreal plastic choice to tell the introspection of today’s humanity. So charcoal, grafted carbonized trunks that came out of the head or lush vegetation are symbolic elements. In the exhibition projects “Dalle Dure Pietre” at the Archaeological Park of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, however, I told of human introspection, although the sculptures were made of casts of acanthus buds and sunflower seeds, without the use of the body and metamorphoses. “Terra in Moto” at the Taormina-Naxos archaeological park was a journey into the energy of the movements of men and nature. From these assumptions comes “Paludi”, where time stands still as in a pond, the beginning of a state of fossilization.

On what other artistic occasions did you succeed in creating the union between man and nature and how?
As I said before, mentioning my previous exhibitions, the combination of man and nature is always there even when the body is absent. I am not very interested in telling about the union between man and nature, even man is nature, I am more interested in telling about a tired humanity with the use of natural symbolic elements (acanthus buds, ferla flowers, etc.). The reasons for the choice stem from my relationship with it, because as I have already said in other situations, I have a rural background and my language is contaminated by my experience.

From the static nature of man to the mobility of nature. Do you believe that the two actions today can also dialogue outside of art?
It is everyone’s hope, and hope in art is always present even when the problem is cruelly told, a more environmentalist conscience is needed, beyond economic interests.

When can aesthetic beauty give way to the message to be told?
In my opinion, I don’t always like to tell messages, and whenever I am invited to do so, it embarrasses me a lot. It’s always very simplistic, it’s like telling a movie or a book. I prefer long silences in front of a visual work.


Giuseppe Agnello. Paludi
a cura di Daniela Fileccia
22 giugno – 10 novembre 2019
Fondazione La Verde La Malfa – Parco dell’Arte
S.G. La Punta – Catania

Ritratto di Giuseppe Agnello 2019. Photo Credit Angelo Pitrone

Giuseppe Agnello, Palude / Composizione 2 2019 resina poliestere più legno cm 180 x cm 280 x cm 100 Photo Credit Angelo Pitrone

Giuseppe Agnello, Palude / Composizione 3 2019 resina poliestere più legno_
cm 170 x cm 270 x cm 100 Photo Credit Angelo Pitrone

Art as a condition of life. Meeting with contemporary art: Michelangelo Pistoletto!

We are at the end of the Sixties and in the United States and Europe a new approach to art begins to take shape that tends to investigate the very nature of artistic language, its instruments and its meanings even before the production of the work-object itself, in which reflection and concept prevail over manual work and matter.

Already with the historical Avant-gardes Marcel Duchamp, with his Dadaism and his ready-made chooses already existing products to which he adds a mental process that will allow the object taken into consideration to acquire the work of art status.

Now, with the sixties, artists like Yves Klein and Piero Manzoni affirm themselves with their conceptualization together with the movements established in this period with the Body art, Arte Povera or Land art.

The conceptual art then tends to indicate the activity of those artists who have made thought and reflection the center of all their artistic research; in fact, they question the object in flesh and blood, which foresees an art market that treats it as any commodity and to this they prefer the idea that exists behind their work, their own figure and with respect to the social and cultural role in which they operate.

In Italy, meanwhile, Arte Povera was born at the end of the 1960s, at the hands of the critic Germano Celant who, with his article on “Flash Art” promoted thirteen artists united by a common language: the use of “poor” materials like earth, wood, iron, rags, plastic and industrial waste for the realization of their works.

The aim of Arte Povera will then be to bring together a certain number of artists whose study and work will revolve around the physical, energetic and metamorphic qualities of primary materials, vegetables and animals or even industrial products; their interventions, which often turn out to be real provocations, include materials taken from natural and / or artificial reality.

Within this context I discover an artist, Michelangelo Pistoletto, born in Biella in 1933, Italian painter and sculptor, animator and protagonist of this current, one of the most important Italian living artists.Two formative experiences will form what will then be the poetics of his art; since childhood, we are in 1947, he took his first steps in the art world attending his father’s restoration studio where he learned the basics of drawing and painting and the most recent restoration techniques and attention to detail. Subsequently he will attend the advertising school of Armando Testa, from whom he takes the ability to transmit a profound thought with a single image and immediately.Reflective surfaces (especially polished stainless steel plates) or “mirror paintings” made between 1961 and 1962 begin to mark Pistoletto as “the man of the mirrors”; works that are born as real-size photographic images on tissue paper on a reflective surface and brushed over, so as to give the viewer the moment he observes them and the possibility of being an active part of artistic creation is reflected.

“The works I do are […] objects through which I get rid of something – they are not constructions but liberations – I do not consider them objects in more but objects in less, in the sense that they carry with them a perceptive experience definitively externalized ” (Carlos Basualdo, Texts by Michelangelo Pistoletto, in Michelangelo Pistoletto. Da uno a molti. 1956-1974, Electa, 2011, p. 344.)

In 1967, however, Pistoletto gave life to a desecrating work in which the artist placed an immortal icon of classical art in front of a heap of worn clothing, the Venus of rags, at the Tate Modern in London, of which there are three later versions: Di Bernardo collection, Giuliana and Tommaso Setari collection, former Galerie Tanit collection of Monaco and the first, owned by the artist, kept in the Pistoletto Foundation in Biella.

In 1998 Pistoletto created “Cittadellarte” in Biella, an immense creative laboratory, a factory of ideas and projects designed to achieve the goal of connecting contemporary art, more specifically public art, relational art and the artist himself with all the areas that make up society, to positively influence the social and intercultural evolutions and transformations in progress, which involves young artists in every field of creativity (music, fashion, design, theater, etc.).

In 2003 a new phase of Pistoletto’s artistic research was born, entitled Terzo Paradiso, a collective work, of which he wrote the manifesto and designed the symbol consisting of two contiguous circles at the ends of another central circle, a reworking of the mathematical sign of Infinity. “The Third Paradise project consists in leading the artifice, ie science, technology, art, culture and politics, to restore life to the Earth. Third Paradise means the passage to a new level of planetary civilization, indispensable for ensuring the survival of mankind. The Third Paradise is the new myth that leads everyone to take on a personal responsibility in this epochal situation. With the New Infinity Sign three circles are drawn: the central one represents the generative womb of the Third Paradise. [1] » (Michelangelo Pistoletto)

After this brief painting in which we know Pistoletto, I cannot fail to comment on Pistoletto’s arrival in Catania; as soon as I become aware of the fact that at the Academy of Fine Arts in Catania (where I play the role of culminator for the subject History of contemporary art) the “master” will arrive. Michelangelo Pistoletto remains perplexed and amazed, not because the Academy of Catania has never given birth to other events of relevance and caliber, but because as I wrote we are talking about the greatest contemporary living Italian artis. We talk about contemporary art that will come in small steps along a lecture hall, invaded by students, and that as soon as they start talking I’m already sure will leave everyone speechless.

On 7 June, in fact, a lectio magistralis was held in an interview mode on the Terzo Paradiso project in which the master intervened and the day also included the conferral of the Honoris Causa Academic Diploma in Visual Arts. The great hall is full and celebrating with the enthusiasm of the students intent on dialoguing with the teacher, answering every question with enthusiasm.

The following day, June 8, instead, at the Molo Levante of the Port of Catania the installation event, ‘La Plastica e il Mare’, is opened to the public, 30 meters by 12 set up on a floating pontoon and built by the citizens who collected the plastic from the sea to face the pollution of the Mediterranean, an initiative of the ancient Mediterranean Oelle Foundation, chaired by Ornella Laneri (moreover Michelangelo Pistoletto and the values ​​of environmental protection will be honored with an exhibition in progress until 15 July at fON Art Gallery of the ancient Mediterranean Oelle Foundation, at the Four Points by Sheraton Catania, Aci Castello); a collective work, which will be illuminated at night with lights powered by solar energy, which combines the commitment to the environment with contemporary art for a Mediterranean to be valued and defended: 2,000 kg of plastic and over 500 hours of work carried out from citizens, operators of the territory, and teaching students of the School of Scenography of the Academy of Fine Arts in Catania.An artistic intervention at the base of which is the awareness and protection of nature and the sea and which has communicated the importance of how much it is necessary to take care today of that precious resource that is the environment thanks to a collective artistic intervention.

Catania thanks the master!

The Third Paradise will be exposed to the public in the port of Catania until 15 July 2019; at the end of the event disposal and recycling will be started by the competent operators for waste disposal in the port.

Joseph Kosuth, Una e tre sedie, 1965Joseph Kosuth, One and three chairs, 1965

Michelangelo Pistoletto specchiWorks by Michelangelo Pistoletto realized with mirror-polished stainless steel plates in which the static nature of the characters or objects in the foreground contrasts with the dynamism of the real world which, reflecting itself, becomes part of it.

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Venere degli stracci, 1967Michelangelo Pistoletto, Venere degli stracci, 1967

Michelangelo Pistoletto receives the Honoris Causa Academic Diploma in Visual Arts at the Catania Academy of Fine Arts. Photo by Tiziana Blanco

Michelangelo Pistoletto receives the Honoris Causa Academic Diploma in Visual Arts at the Catania Academy of Fine Arts. Photo by Tiziana Blanco

Michelangelo Pistoletto, La Plastica e il Mare, view of the installation at the Molo Levante in the Port of Catania. Photo by Tiziana Blanco

Michelangelo Pistoletto, La Plastica e il Mare, view of the installation at the Molo Levante in the Port of Catania. Photo by Tiziana Blanco

Andrea Santarlasci. A legend of endless love

At the foot of the charming mother Etna, whose eruptions have always given a particular charm, overwhelmed by the disastrous eruption of Etna in 1669 and the subsequent earthquake of 1693, the city was almost entirely rebuilt at the beginning of the eighteenth century, Catania, splendid A city of art, overlooking the Ionian Sea, it remains an undisputed example of Sicilian Baroque and for this Unesco heritage together with the other towns of the Val di Noto.

In the itinerary suggested to any tourist, the history of the city is enriched by the myths and legends that populate the tradition of Catania and distinguish its cultural heritage since its inception.
Around this Andrea Santarlasci, Pisan artist, class ’64, decided to create his story, and return it to the Catania area, thanks to an intervention currently ongoing at the contemporary art gallery collicaligreggi, the latter always looking for innovations and trends at the pace of the most advanced contemporary art.
Santarlasci, who attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice and Carrara, immediately decided to tackle controversial issues, but able with a careful reading key to reveal poetic that from the late 80s to today have moved Italian art.

Often the relationships and the oppositions that present themselves in the same intervention lead the spectator as well as to inquire into questions that are capable of being solved only through a sensitive and never too banal soul.

Nature that dialogues with man’s artifice. A space that is a place that becomes almost enveloped in which the visitor is amalgamating giving life to a very personal experience.
Feelings of disorientation, restlessness, amazement that can only lead to discovery … whatever it is!
The exhibition inside the gallery collicaligreggi, entitled Lacrimae, and curated by Lorand Hegyi, is married to the chosen place, Catania, a city as previously mentioned in myths and legends, like that of Aci and Galatea, legend that tells of the great love that joined Aci to Galatea, a beautiful sea-nymph with a milk-colored skin very dear to the gods, love, however, annoyed by the jealousy of the monstrous giant Polyphemus with only one eye on his forehead, who after the refusal of Galatea threw on Aci’s body a gigantic boulder that crushed him. Upon hearing the news, Galatea goes to where the body of Aci was and at the sight of his love threw herself at him, weeping all the tears she had in her body, endless tears that aroused so much compassion towards the gods that to mitigate her pain by transforming Aci in a beautiful river that descends from Etna and flows into the stretch of beach where the two lovers used to meet.

Andrea Santarlasci declares: “… The project comes from a reflection on the place. From the city of Catania came the idea to address and interpret the themes and suggestions that are interwoven with its territory, history and legends concerning the underground rivers, real and mythical, invisible, legendary, obscure or disappeared waters, that often become metaphorical resonances and lead us to reflect and meditate on universal and existential questions of man, such as pain and death. Opposing values ​​such as immobility and flow, simultaneously caught in a simultaneous presence, will be further themes addressed through the substance of water that becomes, at the same time, a metaphor of death and life “.

Statua Aci e Galatea, Acireale

Andrea Santarlasci, Lacrimae, installation view, ph credits Luca Guarneri

Andrea Santarlasci, Lacrimae, installation view, ph credits Luca Guarneri

An enormous installation, therefore, site specific entitled Sotto di noi, immobile flowing time, 2018, consisting of a large eroded wooden floor that runs through the entire perimeter of the gallery, where a break, a ruin, a chasm, a vacuum opens up which emerges the deep and dark water of a possible underground river. Like the re-emergence of something hidden and invisible, or the materialization of memory and imagination.

As the artist declares: “From the light falls enigmatically a light, almost to signal the point of emergence of the waters that emerge from the subsoil slightly rippled by a slight current, but at the same time immobile and circumscribed in the perimeter of the gallery, almost evoking the enclosed waters of Gaston Bachelard ‘The closed water takes death in its bosom. Water makes elementary death. Water dies with death in its substance. Water then becomes a substantial nothing. You can not go beyond in despair. For some souls, water is the matter of despair ‘”.

The huge installation will be accompanied by some paintings, hanging on the wall, designed and created by the artist for this exhibition; works in which appear words that are related to the story around which the artist’s work revolves.

So the intervention of Santarlasci gives the city not only a new art, daring and daring at the same time, but also a trace of the past, which for a city like Catania, rich in myths and legends, is a charming reminder of what It was certainly or to what has been handed down and around which revolve stories and anecdotes from a thousand contours.


Andrea Santarlasci, Lacrimae
curated by Lorand Hegyi
from 3 th August until 15th October 2018
gallery collicaligreggi

catania, rue indaco 23 –  +39 320 8139043 –