Works in black. Gods have fallen and
prayers won’t let us forget about that. It’s necessary to comprehend the relation
with the shadows when the relation becomes a language itself. The holy mountain
is covered with dust while my heart is filled up with things to tell. But I
can’t remember anything. The narration follows the vision, only traces are around
me, material of the ground, objects and fossils keeping and showing in their
shape their constitution and memory, nature and culture: an alchemy of art
capable to turn the vulgar metal (in)to a new knowledge.
healing figures live in the capability to generate silence.
The Temple is wrecked and
sand and desert have been generating suggestive, enigmatic, mysterical shapes.
Art is wonder
and fright, crossing it’s way I happened to get sick.
In the beginning
the very sign was meant to tell the existence and to represent time, so the
artist gave significance to reality through actions and objects, setting
personal and collective meanings that laid the foundation for a symbolic
language. Time has been captured, since everything that is defined is already
past; but through the language, through the sign, the work, it can be saved
from the oblivion’s stillness. The recurring crises and tragedies of humankind
can lose their actuality with the passing of time, they can lose their power
and vigour, so their presence slowly turns into an absence.
Papotto makes a spatial action with sign and material, letting the ambient be
part together with shapes that are traces, and symbolical fragments of
narrations of suffering and tragedy, testifying events and History. This way, both
memory and symbol amplify the action itself, an action that’s multiplied on
different levels and turns into an anthropologic paradigm and a work about loss.
This black bitumen
is a sign and not a colour, it sticks to a figuration affirming it’s own identity
through the artist’s handling of objects and materials transfiguring into formal
subjects, while the genesis of the work follows mental paths inside a dynamics
in which eros and biomorphism are tied up to totemic and magical elements.
The subject and
the staging are depending elements in a relation of reciprocity able to
generate an evoking image in which the idea is affirmed as a tangible presence;
the use of a tree gives us the idea and the memory of it’s image and suggests
us other potentialities and an interiority all through manipulation and
Art is an instrument
of knowledge and a place of cult, it produces images that are simulacra,
projects, simulations in a parallel running with reality. In the beginning,
before philosophic thought, and way before writing, there was the importance of
myth and imagination; they used to represent the absence of what they did evoke.
The archaic idol
was a simulacrum, meant as a shadow from beyond.
artworks, like the less recent works of the old and new avant-gardes, exchanged
our mental perception with the relationship between art, ambient and mass
media; these works invited us to think the unexpected, providing new chances
together with other social levels of participation through the interaction.
Papotto is a sculptor; he handles the
material, and has made a poetic out of the inter-action, presenting works with
an ambivalent reading, that pre-suppose a discovery and a variable related to
the spectator’s participation.
The theatre of
art and the staging recover a concept of aesthetic communication based on the
multi-sensorial experience of the work, which invites us to cross it from time
to time, or to touch or dismantle it in order to build it again, in tune with
the synestethic experience and with the plurality of points of view and the
multi-cultural, global reference system.
The artist is
also a good drawer, he projects and searches the shape. In his work the oxymoric
features are evident, since he puts together two contradictory forms of
knowledge: the ancient, magic knowledge connected to a culture of ghosts and
fancy with the culture of the mimesis: an art meant as free creativity with
autonomous values connected with an art of reality and truth, expressed by a
relationship between tangible world and ideas.
The poetics of
the oxymoron is a rhetorical form that’s symptomatic of the contemporary way of
thinking, a metaphor of the contradictions and of what’s irreconcilable, just
like the use of bitumen as an expressive medium, an organic material characterizing
the urban fabric where we live, a material that recreates the landscape, the
borders and the limits.
The presence of
this substance in contemporary art determined an obsession that allowed some
artist like Burri, Tàpies, Fautrier, Dubuffet, Klein and Kiefer to use bitumen
and combustion enriched by symbolical and spiritual meanings related to the
The use of
bitumen in Papotto’s works creates an optical energy on the surfaces, a visible
mass with carvings and craters, results of an anarchic expression of the
material itself, which accepts to be moulded yet refuses that, keeping some
degree of autonomy related to the Chance.
The material is
heavy and slow, it knows light and shadows through the fire and evolves across
the image’s limits. Its formalization is contained by such geometric shapes as the
square, a stable figure and a symbol of the earth that takes a sacral meaning,
like the use of black and red does.
Just like in the
depths of the earth or in the cosmos, a movement of evolution of the bitumen’s keratin
is exalted here, with a cathartic action. By translating the material and
caging the shape, the artist puts into action some scenes of sublimated drives.
materials implicate an overlapping of meanings produced by the opulence, what
can be generated is also generating. By the transposition of meaning some
oxymorons are determined and they highlight negations and contradictions. An
archaeology of the present: the approach to an univocal meaning and to a unity
falls through and we can attend to a “mystic” writing, of a baroque kind,
outlining the multiplicity and the Self’s contradictions.
In the paradox
we reach the higher degree of meaning, evoked and never revealed.
The lack of a
centre and of a unity is the main feature of present time, making necessary an
anthropologic debate about the Human Being.
A poetics of
tolerance and compassion is needed, set against the irrationalism of every
absolutism, in favour of an aesthetics of permeability representing the opening
towards further realities of meaning.
contemporary scene, Papotto sculpture affirms itself as a possible dimension,
an unstable balance, suspended inside it’s own contradictions; expression of a
discomfort but also testimony of necessity and freedom, keeping a religious
thought outside of any religion and a cultural proposal outside of the
institutional culture’s rules.
This artist’s work
contains an implicit denunciation and a message of solidarity for the actual
condition of social decay: through an aesthetic rigour and a moral commitment,
Papotto evokes the wounds and the discomfort of Contemporary History. It’s an
ethical work, filled up with a metaphysical tension affirming itself against
the culture of the void, of the passivity, where all is false and provisory. A
work set against the end of the democratic thought and of the free civil growth.
The artist raises
his own voice and feelings against blackmail, violence, sexual, social and
religious discrimination, defining a condition in which time and space fade
away, turning into material objects.
sedimentation of the assembled, burnt, recovered, mutilated materials can be
observed as an aesthetic of the ruins of time, evoking a possible dialogue,
split and death through dialectic and formal contrasts, between revelation and
Papotto, memory leaves its mark, along with news and History, in a repeating
game of facts and actions following a discontinuous articulation and a temporeity, a narrative build-up evoking
the past and present recovered by the artist with his practice based on
remainder and settling.
material shows and reveals itself, with the logic of prohibition a double
symbolic register takes place, where the multi-layered implications appear in
the dialectical space of negation and transgression of an opulent vision. The
artist’s practice is justified by a moral and artistic interiority that
recognizes and finds its roots and developments in the deep knowledge of
artists and History of Art, although he distances himself from every artistic
or market-related colonialism, in order to give back to art a poetics connected
to spirit and a historical conscience based on the present.
exist in a physical and conceptual way, they are substances made up with energy
and desire. Energy for aesthetical situations not relating to sculpture only in
its broad meaning, but space itself, capable to descript surfaces on relief
inside mighty structures, or to be expressed in a complete three-dimensionality
to take over the environment around.
In the full
relief structures there is a will to capture, to cage and keep, through the
work of the tools, archetypical metaphors mixing up nature with artifice, while
the works based on the surface contain the power of the scrap, both social and
linguistic, fragments of present and formal leftovers.
based on the use of bitumen, was born and has grown up on the possibility to
create a space where let painting, sculpture and architecture be together, in
order to formalize the concept of space and time related to memory.
bitumen are laid as a second skin in the work’s wefts; through the heat they
melt and purify everything that coagulates overlaps and takes a structure. The
space soundlessly presses and keeps, no words left, only gestures from a tragic
world, containing hope.
are signs and traces coming from deep feelings, soul vibrations turned into sediment
of the present time’s conscience, containing the seeds of spiritual motions
coming from underground places.
The necessity of
“marking” even out of the work’s microcosm determines an opening, beyond its
own limits, to invade the space around. The space of the brinks, closed and
feminine, opens like a mother’s womb, it opens itself to the world and to the things
around, to give birth to a spiritual architecture where religious, secular and
civil forces live together.
space filled up with feelings where the access codes are represented by the
positive and negative, masculine and feminine, by material and void, God’s
space and man’s.
This work based
on the relation with the space implies also a suspension and a demarcation line,
the idea of an exterior and interior movement, the search for some natural
Papotto is a
deep, complex artist; his work doesn’t allow anything to simplification or
reduction, but only to sedimentation. The process of complexity is depurated by
time itself, as an existential element, with its connections and correlations,
a path presupposing a reflection and a contents questioning too, according to
the western culture’s critical approach. Inside this declaration of poetics,
the aesthetic nature, the existence in the world and the human condition stand
In these latest
works, it’s proposed by the bitumen the concept of black(ness) as landscape and
material. Black is not a colour, it’s a symbol of the material before it is
recomposed; it declares an absence and a waiting, it expresses the deepness of
a primary place. Black is the colour of Caravaggio and Goya and it’s connected with
the History of Mediterranean, a History crossed by ruins, fire and storming
lava. The artist has made the works with various layers of bitumen, used in
different densities and mixed up with different other materials: wood, copper,
iron, stones and sand from Etna.
moulded and overlapped are bodies turned into consolidated entities; they can
contain kind of a pure sensoriality and often assume an open condition, since
they have the possibility of a changing inside, with aesthetical and sexual
works represent a mental space where we save hurting remains and fragment of
existence in: they are keepers of memories.
They are mute
voices and suffocated screams in a dark and silent zone. They are the scraps that
the visible shows and transfigure to. They’re emphatic in their workmanship and
theatre of ecstasy and dramatic force in which spiritual and conceptual are
part in the construction of sense by the change. They are aesthetic and
communicative short-circuits the artist use to maintain a stable state of alarm
regarding our social condition.
They are a
border and a resistance.
Luigi Russo Papotto was born in Linguaglossa, Catania, in 1955.
path starts in the 60s when he attends the sculpture class at Istituto Statale
d’Arte of Catania
and, at the same time, attends Domenico Tudisco’s workshop.
In the 70s he
studies at the Accademia delle Belle Arti of Brera, at Minguzzi’s sculpture
school and at the Accademia delle Belle Arti of Catania, the sculpture school of Eugenio Rosso and Rosario Frazzetto; then he moves to
starts working in the prestigious Fonderia d’Arte “Michelucci”, where he meets
many of the artists he will work with.
In the 80s he
takes part in a number of projects of scenographic sculpture, together with,
among many others, Arnaldo Pomodoro.
exhibitions in Italy, France, Spain
and in the U.S.
and his works are bought to be part in several private collections.
pursued various researches that brought him to the creation of interactive sculptures
first, then to deal with History-related themes in “Monumento per la Pace” (A monument for Peace)
in Mazza and Cozzile, 2004, and sociocultural reflections in the work called
“Pozzo di Abramo” (Abraham’s Pit), Quarrata, 2004.
(Cardinal Dates), an installation dated 2006, is a “memoroteca”, a space for
memories, a kind of memorial, a project in which art is meant as a painful
testimony of traumatic events in our recent History.
In 2007/2008 the
artist realizes “Pinnocchio si arrende” (Pinocchio surrenders) and “L’Ombra
dell’Albero” (The Shadow of the Tree). The first work is an homage to one of
the favourite themes of Venturino Venturi, whom Papotto personally met at the
Officine Michelucci in Pistoia,
while the other, an icon of a tree not fit for nesting, represents through
sculpture the issue of atmospheric pollution.
Cardinali, Catalogo della mostra,
Settegioni Editore, Pistoia, 2006
Russo Papotto, in “Confidenze
dell’arte”, Studi d’artista e generazioni a confronto a Pistoia, Centro di
documentazione Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Pistoiese, TRA ART, Pistoia, 2007
d’arte, Palazzo Fabroni Arti
visive contemporanee, Pistoia, 1997
binari… apparizioni, Montecatini
Terme, Pistoia, Maschietto & Musolino, 1998
di marmo candide incidono,
Immagini e parole, Lambda Editrice, Catania, 1969
proiezioni e continuità, Palazzo
Fabroni Arti visive contemporanee, Pistoia, 1997
Russo, in “Sculture e disegni”,
Borgo a Buggiano, Pistoia, Tipolito Vannini, 1983
in scultura, Centro culturale “L’Oro di Noma”, Milano, 1991
Papotto, in “Cartoline d’artista”, Ponte Buggianese,
disegni e sculture, Multimedia
arte contemporanea, Pistoia, 1992
arte interattiva, Catalogo della
mostra, Pistoia, 2002
di Abramo, V Biennale
internazionale delle arti di Quarrata, Pistoia, 2004
delle notti sfinite, in “ Coevit
“ civitas litterarum, Scuola delle Arti, Viadana, Mantova, 1997
procedere da una forma all’altra,
Catalogo della mostra, Pisa, 1993
d’arte, vuoi?, Pisa, 1996
Russo e i padri ritrovati, in
“Terzoocchio”, n. 35, giugno 1985, Edizioni Bora, Bologna
e grafica, Galleria del “ Gruppo
Ciclope “, Acireale, Catania, 1975.
Russo Papotto – comunicato stampa “bitumi – ossimori”
mondiale per la pace e
la non violenza
Chiavacci, Ritratto di Luigi Russo Papotto, in “Fotocommunity”
Chiavacci, Ritratti, in “Exibart.com”
< http://www.exibart.com/profilo/eventiV2.asp?idelemento=51812> 2008
per lo Spazio, in “Undo.net”
dell’albero, in “Exibart Blog” – Giuseppe Carrubba
a piè di pagina – Omaggio a Niccolò Puccini, in “Exibart.com”
dell’arte, in “Teknemedia.net”
Bazzani incontra Luigi Russo Papotto, “Confidenze dell’arte”, Pistoia
Maffucci, Confidenze nell’arte, in “La Nazione”, Pistoia
mon amour, viaggio nell’arte contemporanea, omaggio a Giacomo Puccini
mon amour – L’inizio del viaggio, in
mon amour. In viaggio con Giacomo Puccini, in “Tellusfolio.it”
amour, in “Liumonamour.net”
Cardinali, in “Teknemedia.net”
Cardinali: l’installazione di Luigi Russo Papotto, Settegiorni Editore
si arrende – Luigi Russo Papotto rende omaggio a Venturino Venturi
si arrende, Museo Venturino Venturi di Loro Ciuffenna
& pratiche. Conferenza regionale per la cultura. Regione
Carrubba, Culture & pratiche. La conferenza regionale della Toscana tra
innovazione promozione, in “BTA - Bollettino Telematico dell’Arte”
The critic essay Luigi Russo Papotto.
taken from the catalogue currently on printing by Settegiorni Editore, Pistoia, 2009
Translated from Italian to
English by Luca Andriolo