Interview with the two painters, daughter, and father, on display at ‘The Silk Road of Art in Himeji’
The splendid Himeji Castle, a World Heritage Site, will be hosting the 7th Bienniel of Modern Art, ‘The Silk Road of Art in Himeji’, an evocative project inaugurated in 2008 by Shikama Koziro. The exhibit is Friday July 2nd Sunday July 11th between 10:00am – 5:00pm and until 3:00pm on the final day.
Born in Takasago City Hyogo in 1941, graduated from Kanazava Art College in sculpture in 1964, he boasts a career in aesthetic research of over 50 years and exhibited all over the world, from Europe to South America. In the Land of the Rising Sun, he is present at the most important exhibitions and is a member of the Japan Art Association, of the Niki Committee and representative of the Himeji Castle Biennial of Modern Art.
Shikama Koziro complains, according to the oil painter Michiko Fukumoto, member of the of the Biennial, who has been exibiting since the first edition in 2008, is that contemporary society is altering the usual ways of using art. Indeed, too often, the works are shown online or on video, therefore, losing the possibility of creating that magical, empathic, immediate flow that naturally is established between the viewer and the masterpiece itself.
Quite the opposite, it is of fundamental importance to admire them in person and interact even with the creators themselves, who are thus able to clarify their message and satisfy all visitors’ curiosities. Six rooms of the prestigious manor will be used. Which once the partitions are removed will become two large spaces where paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs will be exhibited.
As Michiko explains, Shikama often goes abroad and from meeting with some artists in the United States, Korea, Russia, Mexico, Germany, Bangladesh, Belgium, and Italy, he chose the protagonists of this edition.
His intent is to try to discover new talents and give the right emphasis to those already established. Innovation is one of the keywords of his poetics: shedding light on ordinary people, being in the same space, feeling the same atmosphere, having fun, and sending art all over the world.
Regarding the 7th Biennial of Contemporary Art of the Himeji Castle World Heritage 2021, Shikama states:
Initially scheduled for June 2020, it was inevitably canceled due to the spread of the Coronavirus. We have no idea how the virus will evolve this year. However, as human beings we have overcome life-threatening crises many times. The development of science and technology and the advancement of medicine are needed to overcome this situation. What makes us different from other living organisms is that we are made up of thought and emotion, vital forces much larger than physical energy. For us, Art and Science are essential.
The 7th Biennial of Contemporary Art of Himeji Castle has been held for 14 years now. We often hear visitors say: ‘How original is it!’ Artists are always looking for the next phase, away from existing values and forms. Something that captures the heart, stimulates, and works on the brain.
The energy of creation is perennial, and the activities never stop. Himeji is a precious opportunity, as the number of places to present one’s works is decreasing. Dialogue in art is the door to the future that is about to begin.
Among the aesthetes of this 7th edition there are eight representatives of Italy: Antonella Magliozzi, Francesco Pernice, Francesco Zaccone, Kika Bohr, Maria Amalia Cangiano, Stefania Fantone, Mariangela Cacace and Vincenzo Cacace.
Our attention is focused on Mariangela and Vincenzo and Cacace from Campania. Daughter and father to whom we are bound by a privileged relationship and affectionate sharing of intent, living in the Caserta area.
In addition to the exquisite stylistic skills, capable of tearing up infinite emotional universes, giving rise to a set of existential questions, we appreciate their sensitivity, wit, and infinite culture.
Let us start right from Mariangela. lovingly solicited by her parent who immediately saw her enormous potential, she graduated in Scenography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples under the guidance of Osvaldo Petricciuolo and Giulio Baffi and currently works as a teacher of Art and Design.
Mariangela, why among all your works did you decide to exhibit ‘Esser Sorta e poi Scomparsa’, oil on canvas, 106×120 cm, made in 2014? Why this title? It is used to speak of death and rebirth, instead, you do the opposite, you ‘arise’ to ‘disappear’, why?
‘Esser Sorta e poi Scomparsa’ tells us about mythological places. Of all the legendary lands, the myth of Atlantis – like The Silk Road – is the one that most stimulated my imagination. Naturally, to strengthen increasingly the mystery wrapped around the legend, it was the persuasion that a vanished place really existed and that it is difficult to find its traces because sank into the sea.
That on our planet there was land that emerged and then disappeared is certainly not a strange hypothesis. 225 million years ago there was Pangea, which then began to split, slowly giving rise to the continents we know today. This is what science states. On the other hand, the Myth tells us about surfaces that could have arisen and then disappeared.
Atlantis represents the story of everything that surrounds us for extended periods in our life and which from ‘unknowable’ is transformed into ‘phenomenon’ that crosses the borderline that separates the unknown world from what constitutes our ‘environment’ of which we are part.
The line, the horizon: Event horizon, Myth.
Nothing more misleading than using the term myth as a synonym for an unreal or fantastic or legendary event; rather, it is what aggregates a speck of facts into the profile of a legible figure. It is what brings the indistinctness of what happens, the thing itself, to the completed form of what is real. Yes, it is a fabricated product, but mistaking artificial for unreal is foolish. For this reason, it is the truest creature there is.
The gesture with which large communities of humans manage to construct a myth is mysterious. Difficult to decipher are the reasons why they do it and the times they choose to do it. However, the precision, and often the beauty, of the final product, together with the impressive complexity of the causes that generate it, gives the legendary creatures such stature that, frequently, they have been treated as Divinities. It is inscribed in this dynamic that in producing one, men become more than they are.
Where there is no mythical creation, humans stop. As if blocked by a spell.
It is a canvas in which the triumph of colors, playing on shades bordering an oxymoron, making the shapes almost imperceptible at first. Allowing a multiplicity of interpretation that leaves more keys to reading open. How much was this effect wanted and sought after and how much, instead, was it the result of a sort of ‘mystical ecstasy of the sacred fire of Art’!
It was the result of studies, research, and experiences over the years since childhood. I do not believe in the ‘mystical ecstasy of the sacred fire of Art’, but I am convinced that Art is the effect of in-depth studies and experiences gained over time, through the frequentation and proximity of Works and Artists.
It is Life that takes us by the hand and leads us towards another mystery, that of consciousness. Which, like an uninterrupted flow, varies without respite and indefinitely recreates itself. This is the meaning of Time, in which thought thaws and takes shape in images that cross space like sheets of light. They are landscapes pervaded by mystery in which the surprising experience of becoming is consumed in an almost ascetic solitude. ‘Landscapes’ that arise in the free flow of color on the canvas, in tight layers.
In my works the sign plays a fundamental role for the immediate coming behind the hand to the mind, and, at the same time, surprising it. The prevalence of doing. It arises from the desire to express oneself freely, starting from an initial moment from which it unfolds in the rhythms and cadences of a polysemic language, in a distillation of traits, between evanescence and dilation, fragility and evidence. It is never casual, nor automatic, it radiates into space like a cipher of the soul. A ‘mirage’.
More vanishing points, more perspectives, more dimensions, more universes, more paths: it is impossible to find a beginning and an end. Prisms that become volcanoes but, also circus tents or even globes. n impalpable figure that surrounds his head with a crown that seems to recall that of Nefertiti, which blows as if she were unfurling the sails in the wind, but also tributes to the genius of Leonardo. The natural elements are all there and infinitely declined, according to an arrangement that is only apparently accidental, but which instead finds its foundation in your work as a theatrical set designer, am I right?
It is true. My background as a set designer has also contributed to the development of my way of doing and thinking about art. As I have already mentioned, every experience or study contributes to the creation of a work. All this is present in every work.
The dynamism due to the multiplicity of vanishing points was born as a technical expedient in the theatrical field, but it is undoubtedly the search for a pictorial ‘dialogue complexity’.
That of constant research is, in fact, my real project. I rely on the abstract and informal sign, not only as an expansion of a pure sensitivity or as a transcription of a progressive intuitive suggestion, but as a founding and conscious tension towards a balance between form and gaze.
The search, in many ways by Leonardo, for the perfect proportion, gives shape to the Opera. Safe tool for defining spaces and arranging figures, numbers and geometries build their profound meaning. An exciting journey into the ‘rule of art’ of ancient knowledge through an operational path that retains harmonic consonances in the composability of the numbers.
Just hinted at, in the distance, the figure of a mythological colossus, very reminiscent of those painted by your father. How much do you owe him professionally? How much did he leave you free to indulge your innate artistic skills and how and towards what did he direct you instead? What is his greatest teaching?
I owe everything to dad. The Colossus that you glimpse inside the painting is certainly him, my father. As a true master, he educated me, from an early age to the pleasure of beauty, guiding my sensitivity towards the horizons of art.
I firmly believe that my education is the daughter of all this, a mature and independent daughter of a noble and happy school, of the ‘teaching’ of a father – painter, writer, critic and art historian – refined maieuta of many new, highly cultivated paintings where the subtleties of quotations, references to historical tradition, literary, poetic, sacred thrusts, express a living continuity with the past, if not the only possibility of probing, in depth, the anxieties or the most peaceful silences of time lived, to be fully contemporary, to experience art as an intimate persuasion.
His greatest teaching? Live the life.
What do we learn from the masters? Love for study, for research… definitely, Love for Beauty.
Let us now pass to the first and focal point of the journey undertaken by Mariangela, precisely Vincenzo. Graduated from the Art Institute of Torre del Greco (NA) and from the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples, he was a pupil of Bresciani, Brancaccio, Barisani, receiving positive reviews and appreciation also from Aligi Sassu. He has participated in the Italian artistic life since 1964.
Vincenzo, during your prolific career, which has lasted successfully for 57 years, you have exhibited in countless exhibitions and group shows, in Italy and abroad, together with Giorgio de Chirico, Renato Guttuso, Ugo Attardi, winning numerous national and international awards. At this point in your professional career, how does the stage of the Himeji Castle Biennial of Modern Art fit? Why bring to Japan ‘Eidetic reductions and dreams’, oil on canvas, cm.70×50?
However, I must clarify, by answering this question of yours, which opens a wide and documented parenthesis on my human and artistic story… human for the feeling of the days lived that always walk parallel to the way of organizing one’s own doing… and artistic for specific definition of my maximum commitment in painting, which has always been that of bringing together data of knowledge, even from those events that brought me together, either by chance, or by choice of that critic who wanted to reward me with inclusion in large exhibitions and therefore with the closeness to those Great Artists, who were my myths since the age in which I took my first steps in artistic expression and in its various languages… and among those you mentioned, de Chirico is for me the maximum point… still considering him so brilliant and… to be discovered entirely, in a world that runs too much cataloging… and burying everything under the dust, with its own superficiality!
The invitation that was made to me through such an authoritative channel as the Contemporary Art Gallery of Gaeta (LT), recently dedicated to Antonio Sapone, honors me and, therefore, accepting it with great enthusiasm, I decided to participate in the Biennale with a work that represents me most of all, as a pictorial and sapiential language, the apex of a research carried out with conviction, in absolute solitude, estranged from fashions.
Always admired, fascinated by the calligraphy that emerges already at the origin of the expression. I try to be an apprentice who, having assimilated the lesson of the Great, now tries to reconcile himself as a teacher for himself… but always in a severe… inflexible way.
The inner soul thread ‘Is’ my true avant-garde… the Dream my space… the Love for Beauty my goal.
What relationship do you have with Shikama Koziro, who among other things held a solo exhibition in the Art Gallery you mentioned, a place very dear to you, and with Michiko Fukumoto, who exhibits with you in the World Heritage Castle?
We met in Gaeta in a meeting managed by dear friend Antonio Lieto, the extremely sensitive Director of the City Contemporary Art Gallery, who always spends himself tirelessly to create moments of aggregation and culture to enrich, with boundless trends, a land already overflowing with traditions, to which he also offers his illuminating work of osmosis.
On that occasion the Sikama Toshiro’s exhibition was inaugurated and Michiho Fukumoto anticipated us the Biennale project, which was then postponed due to the pandemic.
Now finally this exciting project starts again… And we can, all artists of all trends, offer our contribution of Art and Thought to the General Heritage of Humanity… each with its own personal, small brick… conscious to be part of a Great Construction.
Art is truly without borders!
Your works, indicative of the dimension that is going to be explored, investigate the hidden meaning of things, the ‘sub line’, the vision of those who are ‘inside the arcane arteries’ to perceive an invisible dimension under the skin of the apparent, objectified data from the bare chronicle, to try to open the locks of wisdom, describing the Beauty of the journey into Knowledge but protecting the Inner Soul. Philosophy that flows into painting, intertwining myths and allotropic movements, metaphysics that is sublimated in Lorca’s Duende or pictorial alchemy of parallel universes? All of this or none of this?
I am flattered that you have carefully examined my work, in this work of the Biennale and others of my artistic production… that I would be tempted not to add more to your question.
In fact, it is precisely the incentive for everyone, in opening a dialogue with Art and the hidden aspects of Reality and not just those of the evidence, to be attentive and ‘speculative’, the goal that I always strive to support.
An Art that is not a mere stylistic decoration, but a path for the Soul to consolidate itself in a project of Universal Spirituality.
I know… these are important words but, in fact, one must strive to be able to grasp even a small part of the dust that the path of Eternity leaves on earth!
Love permeates all your canvases, whether it is addressed to the Universe in an absolute sense or to your Muse, life partner for 50 years, the enchanting Cira. How different would your Art be if she were not next to you along the road that leads to growth and self-improvement? How much and how does your intense bond influence each brushstroke, each Transmutation, each soul flow, each enlightening image of unexpressed possibilities, each exit from the labyrinth of the soul, each free thought, each embrace that reunites heaven and earth, high and low?
Being born into life is always an act of love… we should never forget it… even when this happens due to an act of violence… only Love can harmoniously coordinate all forces, even those that act in the internal, organic nature and therefore manifests itself in kneading the material, first shapeless and then modeled by the Great Art of Nature, which is the rising to Life… of Life itself… because each of us is an integral part of it.
It is Dante’s ‘Amor che tutto move’… the same that ‘move il Sole e l’altre stelle’… but brought back to earth
In a clear and arcane, mysterious way… Woman is all this… and I add that, especially the women themselves should pause more to give value to this aspect. I am grateful to my ‘design – destiny’ for having given me an incredible fortune in accompanying me, making me live, existing alongside this wonderful engine of the world… which pushed me even more to ‘probe’. Essence that I try to instill in my works, aware that in those canvases, in those pigments, it is not only me who gives something to others but also my polarity… not opposite, as it is commonly defined by a culture of part, but joint.
A part of the world that is not divided, not separated, but firmly intertwined in common and therefore… ‘Our’ roots.
Cira… for me she is muse… model… Indivisible essence… and while I am talking about it… I want to portray her again… to perceive her mystery… the eternal feminine that, at every moment, evolves and escapes increasingly, peeping out like a nymph in the foliage of a ‘Bosco Parrasio’ and invitingly launches her call: ‘… hey, look… I am here!’