Sacred and profane by Francesco Lauretta and Aryan...

Sacred and profane by Francesco Lauretta and Aryan Ozmaei for Castelbasso 2022

In 2022 the visual arts section of Castelbasso – Borgo della cultura e dell’arte presents two solo exhibitions curated by Pietro Gaglianò: Grounds by Aryan Ozmaei, and Bagnanti, riti, mattanze by Francesco Lauretta. As every year, the medieval village in Abruzzo opens the doors of Palazzo Clemente and Palazzo De Sanctis, on the occasion of the event promoted by the Malvina Menegaz Foundation from 23 July to 28 August.

The focus of the two exhibitions is certainly painting, in its different visual expressions, that each artist conveys in a personal way. The three floors of Palazzo De Sanctis show the research of Francesco Lauretta, which concerns some themes that could be defined as classics of painting and starts right from the bathers on the ground floor. Their energetic and swollen volumes expand and contract on paper, creating liquid and unstructured spaces. The female body becomes a solid shadow, between painful gestures and rhythms, revealed by the glow of gold. In the side rooms Lauretta boldly proposes three Soluzioni: sets and reincarnations dedicated to three masters of art history: Courbet, Picasso and Kirchner. The Soluzione Lauretta (2020) accompanies them, and he defines it as a work in progress, in which we perceive a preview of the explosion of light, staged on the first floor.

Here, the inventory of the religious rites typical of his region, Sicily, winds through the various environments: they appear to us in transfigured shapes, outlining a space that the visitor walks as in a procession. The tension that paintings and drawings exude remains suspended between sacred and profane, in a tribute and at the same time in a deep contrast with tradition. In the installation Epitaffio (2006-2022), the crucifixion is inserted into a bloody curtain, with a structure that stimulates an alternative look and is flanked by tombstones and processions with Renaissance echoes made by dusting. On the opposite wall there is a narration entitled Costruzione e Rovina, a combination put in black and white that confirms this constant duplicity in Lauretta’s sensibility.

The colors and the warm and dense light break out, enveloping the crowds and saints portrayed by the artist in the diptych Rito blu e rosso (2017) and in Rito e allegoria (2022), of which we hear the noise and strength, a prelude to the subsequent mattanze. The Sicilian fishing rituals trace the last piece of this reflection on the concept of humanity: they represent themselves but also the tendency of a race to self-destruction of the individuals, which echoes and contrast a video of laughter. Lauretta’s painting is a multiform agglomeration, which moves with violence and full of sun (which also warms but ruins), embodying the life that man tries to dominate during his existence.

Aryan Ozmaei, an artist of Iranian origins who has been active in Italy for about 20 years, in her works at Palazzo Clemente does not tell stories or iconic symbols, but in Grounds she finds out her own scenes and territories. Her bright colors project us far, allowing the gaze to penetrate into a complex game between the memories of the artist and the primordial epic of Iran, which is very present in her mind. The mythological figures of the triptych Sgorga sorgente, sgorga e fluisci (2020-2021) are talismans, which give the strenght for a rebirth, like the cardiac massage that rises from the fountain, a waterfall of water, also a source of life, reminiscent of the ancient Persian gardens.

There is an organic fusion between the two worlds, which however retain their identity, each displaying a personal side, without falling into biographies or explicit chronicles. In the diptych Polaroid (2020-2021) the familiar and domestic sphere penetrates the landscape of the soul, the simple mountains made of cloth that we discover at first in Un luogo della mente (2020-2021), and that return in almost all the paintings. This vital cycle pervades the rooms, and leads to Ritratto di famiglia (2021), in which there is no precise temporal location: might it be a nostalgic memory of her parents? Maybe their future vision or the present? Aryan Ozmaei, in fact, places us in front of a deep bond, in which the figures she represents are passages to get out of linear time, and to understand its multi-level stratification, looking inside ourselves.

Both exhibitions are journeys that immerse us completely into a pictorial dimension, which is crossed and overlayed with reality. This osmosis between the two is a central point, because thanks to the work of the two artists there is a reinterpretation of the basically relationships of society, between time and space and between people. Lauretta and Ozmaei show in different ways how life and death, past and present are inseparable in existence, and fundamental for the man who runs through it.

Cecilia Buccioni


Francesco Lauretta | Bagnanti, riti, mattanze
curated by Pietro Gaglianò
Palazzo De Sanctis, Borgo medievale di Castelbasso

Aryan Ozmaei | Grounds
curated by Pietro Gaglianò
Palazzo Clemente, Borgo medievale di Castelbasso

23/07/2022 – 28/08/2022

For all the images: Photo credits: Gino Di Paolo, courtesy Fondazione Malvina Menegaz per le Arti e le Culture

Francesco Lauretta, Epitaffio, 2006-2022 (Costruzione e rovina), fusaggine on the wall, environmental dimensions (detail)

Francesco Lauretta, Epitaffio, 2006-2022, oil on canvas, 145 x 220 cm, neon

Francesco Lauretta, Soluzione Mattanza, 2022, oil on canvas, 220 x 160 cm

Aryan Ozmaei, Sgorga sorgente, sgorga e fluisci (triptych), 2020, oil on canvas, 120 x 145 cm, 150 x 180 cm, 120 x 145 cm

Aryan Ozmaei, Ritratto di famiglia, 2021, oil on canvas, 150 x 180 cm


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