Discover the Art of Capri in Italia! Magazine

While Amalfi will always have my heart, the island of Capri has a very special place there as well. Recently, I had the chance to share some of my favorite things about Capri in the February 2020 issue of Italia! magazine. With an artistic bent, this article offers a small glimpse into some of the people, places, and experiences that for me really get at the true essence of the island’s magic.

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Francesco Clemente’s Standing with Truth for Ravello 2017

In Italy, you can’t help but experience modernity within the context of the past. What is new is quite literally enveloped in what came before. But isn’t that what it should always be like? During my Washington, DC days, I was struck by a quotation from Shakespeare’s The Tempest that is carved at the base of a statue outside the National Archives. “What is past is prologue,” it reads. In a place like the Amalfi Coast, protected as it is thanks to its UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the visual landscape is a narrative that has continued unbroken from the past.

In a place with centuries of history such as the Villa Rufolo in Ravello, it’s possible to walk through its history, starting practically at the prologue in the 12th century and continuing to today. It is within this historic surrounding that a thoroughly modern exhibit has been placed this summer. As part of this year’s Ravello Festival, the show Standing with Truth for Ravello 2017 is a site-specific installation created by Neapolitan born artist Francesco Clemente in one of the Villa Rufolo’s atmospheric spots.

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The exhibit is situated in the courtyard and what was once a chapel at the Villa Rufolo. It’s a quiet and reflective setting – perfect for art exhibitions. The courtyard is flanked by two rows of bright red flags painted with symbols at once captivating and dark. A clenched fist holds colorful flowers. A sickle, broken at its base, cuts into a bleeding heart. Two strange creatures embrace. Images with an intensity that evokes a struggle.

Stepping inside the chapel, the narrative continues with a large tent entirely hand painted in tempura. The exhibition notes point out that it’s the type of tent characterized by Asian nomad shepherds. A tent as shelter, a tent as a symbol of changing places. This exhibition is themed around the idea of walls and migration – timely topics in today’s political climate around the world. Clemente has been working with the idea of tents since his ENCAMPMENT series that started about 5 years ago.

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This is a tent you can walk into, explore and experience. I happened to be there at a moment when there were no other visitors and it was a fascinating visual experience. There are ancient symbols, animals and faces that reminded me of Picasso’s Rose Period. The colors are vividly warm and I found myself creating my own narratives as I wandered around inside.

What stories do you see?

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Peering out from inside the tent, you can see the walls lined with a series of watercolors by Clemente that are on display for the first time.

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Getting up close to these watercolors, it was possible to see the incredible texture and labor that went into their design. Just look at the design in the concentric circles and the red border below. The works were full of intricate details that are exotic and traditional, playing on the theme different cultures blending together.

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Leaving the chapel, the harsh red flags reveal softer pastel color scheme with messages embroidered in gold thread. As they say, there are two sides to every story, and these flags fluttering in a summer breeze were reminders of that.

One tie-died flag caught my eye in particular. It says, “Il piu moderno qui è anche il piu’ arcaico.” That translates to: “The most modern here is also the most archaic.” Framed by the arched entrance to the chapel courtyard, it perfectly captured the setting of this contemporary art exhibit in the 12th-century ruins of the Villa Rufolo.

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It was also the catalyst for my reflections on this exhibition. If what is past is prologue, we carry not only who we were in the past with us as we move forward in life, but we also carry with us our family, back to our remotest ancestors in far flung parts of the world we have yet to even imagine. We carry that with us as we go forward, sometimes moving countries, meeting new people, making new families. We are ancient and modern all at once, just like the landscapes we move through.

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Standing with Truth for Ravello 2017 is on display at the Villa Rufolo through the end of September. Entrance to the exhibit is included when you purchase your ticket for the Villa Rufolo. More details available at www.villarufolo.com.

 

Italy Blogging Roundtable

Italy Roundtable
This blog post is part of a series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme, and you can read the contributions for this month’s topic – Modern – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!

ArtTrav

At Home in Tuscany

Bleeding Espresso

Brigolante

Italy ExplainedWhere to See Modern & Contemporary Art in Italy

Girl in Florence

Italofile

 

Alba Gonzales | Ravello

Amalfi Coast Art Exhibit Ravello Alba Gonzales

Overlooking the sea from the Auditorium Oscar Niemeyer

Following a twisty, narrow road down from the center of Ravello, you’ll find the striking Auditorium Oscar Niemeyer. I enjoy its gleaming white curves and especially the piazzale with a sweeping view of the Amalfi Coast. It’s the perfect spot to display large sculptural artwork, and I’m pleased to see another exhibition installed after the Igor Mitoraj show in 2012 and the memorable Mimmo Paladino show last summer.

Amalfi Coast Art Alba Gonzales

“Lei vede, non vede o altrove guarda,” by Alba Gonzales

This spring the work of the contemporary Italian artist Alba Gonzales is on display at the Auditorium Oscar Nieymeyer and Villa Rufolo for the exhibit “Amor Maris – I Miti Scolpiti.” The exhibit brings together 32 works in bronze and marble surrounding the theme of modern mythology told through universal themes like love, death, justice and liberty.

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A sculpture you must walk around many times to begin to see

Strolling around the piazzale at the Auditorium Oscar Niemeyer, I was reminded how much I enjoy photographing sculptures. I found the large bronze pieces by Gonzales particularly intriguing since they all had multiple sides, scenes and stories to tell.

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Amor Maris – I Miti Scolpiti is on display only until May 18th, so do take a scroll down to the Auditorium Oscar Niemeyer this month if you’re visiting the Amalfi Coast. To find out more about Alba Gonzales, visit www.albagonzales.it.

 

Bends, Curves and Checks in Ravello

Amalfi Coast Travel Ravello Walk

Peeking through to the Annunziata church in Ravello

There is a staircase I follow often to visit family that leads from the main piazza of Ravello, through and under the Villa Rufulo and past two churches. The first church is the much photographed Chiesa della SS. Annunziata. But my favorite view of it is the one you see above, which is so nicely framed by an arched walkway going down this staircase. Around a few more corners and you’ll spot the undulating roof and bell tower of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

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Looking down on Santa Maria delle Grazie

Last week the curves of the roof and the bends in the staircase as it twisted and turned down the mountainside caught my attention more than usual. Maybe it was because the sun was mostly hiding and the light was a bit odd. (That view can be particularly distracting when the sun is shining!)

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Curvy lines and beautiful views

I love the curves of the roof and especially the part above the little window with criss cross bars. It’s hard to know just where to look with the steps leading one way and the lines of the building so smoothly rolling up and down. The eye doesn’t come to rest easily in one place.

Amalfi Coast Travel Ravello Staircases and Churches

Feels like walking through an M.C. Escher drawing!

Vertiginous moments like these make it easy to understand why an artist like M.C. Escher fell in love with the Amalfi Coast. (Take a look at some of Escher’s drawings from the Amalfi Coast here.)

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Once colorful and beautifully detailed churches

There are also little architectural details that shed some light on how brilliant and colorful these churches must have appeared when they were built. (Although it’s hard to just how much has been retouched with restorations.) The border around the window above is on the side of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Walking up and down the steps and stopping to enjoy little details like this is what life — and travel — is all about for me.