Arcangelo. Creating body, creating place / Officine Saffi, Milan
February 19 – March 28, 2015
Officine Saffi presents a solo show by Arcangelo (b. 1956, Avellino), one of the best-known Italian ceramic artists, originating from the Campania region. Curated by Laura Borghi, the exhibition comprises twelve new works in ceramic specially made at the Officine Saffi Lab, in an interesting convergence between the creative and exhibition spheres.
The new series of works made by Arcangelo in the Milanese “factory” is titled Le Case degli Irpini (Homes in Irpinia), the natural development of a process of reflection on materials and the concept of tradition conducted by the artist from the 1980s. Arcangelo adopts cultures both near and far, utilizing imagery of the house as a fetish, a symbolic casket encasing affection and intimacy.
The points of reference for these works are the archaic cultures of pre-Roman Italy, as for the Sanniti series, but also the most ancient and mysterious populations of Africa, as was the case of the project on the Dogon. And so the Homes in Irpinia become idealized, shared homes, outside the realms of time and space, with references to a land that is at once a material to be shaped, and a maternal, almost uterine image.
Arcangelo is an artist who works with both pictorial and sculptural media. He first encountered sculpture in the 1980s, taking courses with Ernesto Rossetti at the Fine Arts Academy in Rome where he completed his diploma with Emilio Greco. In Rome he frequented academic circles and masters of Italian sculpture, and he felt artistic affinities with figures such as Neapolitan sculptor Augusto Perez, but also with pictorial currents by the new generation of artists.
It was in those years that works such as Coltivazione di granturco (Maize growing) or the Altari (Altars) took form, revealing his preference for conceiving a location’s specific identity and the sacral aura of the forms that he manipulated. The same sort of sacred aura could be perceived in works made in the 1990s, the Montagne sante (Holy Mountains) and the Miracoli (Miracles), in a sequence that continued right through to the early 21st century with his Anfore (Amphorae) and Orti (Gardens).
Installation view of Arcangelo. Fare corpo, fare luogo exhibition, 2015. Copyright Officine Saffi. Photo by Alessandra Vinci.
Other significant landmarks in Arcangelo’s oeuvre include exhibitions such as Sarcofago, anfore, tappeti persiani (Sarcophagi, amphorae, Persian carpets) at Galleria Lorenzelli in 2000, and Da terra mia (From my land) at Marcorossi Artecontemporanea in 2013, in particular as regards the relationship between sculptural forms and pictorial surfaces.
“In this recent series of pieces,” writes Flaminio Gualdoni, “Arcangelo is truly engaged in the creation of body, along with the creation of a location. His material is solid colour, rough and physically assertive, impregnated and encrusted with layers of additional colour, as in a sensitive amplification and a subtle contradiction. Thirty years ago his works were titled ‘Terra mia’ (My land, my earth). Today, the anthropological and biographical concept of earth is wholly implied by this material, and in the powerful sense of meaning emanating from the bodies derived from it.”
Gallery hours: Monday through Friday, 10 am – 6.30 pm. Saturday, 11 am – 60 pm. Sunday by appointment.
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Via A. Saffi, 7
Above: Arcangelo, Casa degli Irpini, 2015, Stoneware, 34 x 32 x 23 cm. Copyright Officine Saffi. Photo by Alessandra Vinci.