Nicola Samorì. Black Square

The space of the former Cloister of the Church of S. Caterina in Formiello, entrusted to the Made in Cloister Foundation as part of an articulated project of rebirth and regeneration of the Porta Capuana area, was inaugurated, in May 2016, with a great exhibition of Laurie Anderson, The Withness of the Body. Since then, the Foundation has invited international artists to create site-specific projects able to dialogue with the space, with the neighborhood and with local artisan techniques. Tadashi Kawamata, Mimmo Paladino, Liu Jianhua and Natee Utarit were protagonists of projects carried out by the Foundation.

Now, until April 30, 2020, the sixteenth-century cloister of S. Caterina hosts Black Square, the exhibition that Nicola Samorì has created for the Made in Cloister Foundation. The exhibition is curated by Demetrio Paparoni.

Vesuvius as imaginary – matter of the city and the work of art; the temporal stratifications of the urban fabric like iridescent fossils, a gaze sunk in the rock, in the magma of transformation and in the possibilities of its regeneration: these are the icons that characterize the creative journey thought by Samorì for Naples.

At the center of the Cloister of Santa Caterina there is a monumental sculpture five meters high, Drummer, grown like the Neapolitan obelisks, by adding heterogeneous elements. In the lower part, which ends with a tripod, the shapes of a baroque candlestick can be recognized. On this ornamental base sinks a colossus inspired by a small ivory carved by the German sculptor Joachim Henne in 1670/80 and kept at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Death as a drummer, a skeletal figure with an hourglass-like body. The whole sculpture is covered with volcanic lapilli.

At the foot of this chimera, a compendium of Vesuvius, of the Neapolitan Baroque and of the idea of ​​”monument of superstition”, a vast black square widens which repeats the perimeter of the wooden Bourbon cage that stands inside the cloister and is composed – like the colossus – from lapilli. Thousands of stoneware heads, the same color as lapilli, are scattered on this strip of black beach, which spread like shells on the sand.

A single severed head takes real proportions and distances itself from the volcanic carpet: it is a head of San Gennaro, in translucent Mexican onyx. The heads take us back to the beheadings of San Gennaro, Desiderio, Festo, Sossio, Procolo, Eutiche and Acuzio, according to the myth, which took place at Forum Vulcani. There is precisely Vesuvius at the base of the spread of the cult of San Gennaro, a link that dates back to the eruption in 1631, one of the most disastrous events, when lava lapped the city stopping at Porta Capuana – a stone’s throw from Made in Cloister – in the presence of the saint carried in procession.

Drummer faces two paintings made in oil and sulfur on copper: the paintings represent two saints, one taken from José de Ribera (San Paolo Eremita) and the other by his pupil Luca Giordano (San Bartolomeo flayed).

Furthermore, the exhibition has a very suggestive development, until March 16, at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. In the “bronze room”, seven sculptures of the artist dialogue with the famous works of Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum: Samorì, always careful to re-read the works of art of the past, thus creates an emotional journey from ancient to contemporary, in a sober setting, which enhances the always current suggestions of the finds. In this integration of Black Square in the spaces of the MANN, the classicized heads “treated” stand out in a clever play of shapes and materials that rethink the dimension of yesterday to build an imagined present.


Nicola Samorì. Black Square
18 January – 30 April 2020
Fondazione Made in Cloister
Tuesday – Saturday 10.00 – 18.00

Nicola SamorìNicola Samorì, overall view of the Black Square exhibition at the Made in Cloister Foundation (cloister of the church of Santa Caterina in Formiello). Ph Antonio Conte, courtesy Made in Cloister

Nicola Samorì, In abisso, 2018-19, travertine, 44 x 20 x 22 cm, work exhibited in the hall of the Villa dei Papiri, Archaeological Museum of Naples, ph Sara Fosco


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