An exhibition of important works by Italian artist Stefano Di Stasio is currently on view at the Palazzo Collicola museum in Spoleto until 26 September. Opened in June in connection with the Festival of Two Worlds, Astanze is curated by legendary Roman gallerist Fabio Sargentini together with the director of Palazzo Collicola, Marco Tonelli. The show features nine large-scale paintings produced between 1994 and 2011 which form part of Sargentini’s private collection. The works are installed throughout the exhibition floor inside dark rooms or stations outlined by single points of light. The dramatic and poetic setting unveils the prodigious figures of mysterious solitary men in narratives full of symbolic connotations. The anachronistic dreamlike scenes in Di Stasio’s works portray enigmatic traces of existence: we observe the subjects as they loom over the landscape, or at times as they emerge from gaps, objects, and corners.
The art critic Cesare Brandi states that Di Stasio’s work conjures “Presence that is not flagrant”. Hence, the emphasis on being that is neither physical nor spiritual but residing in between is what makes these portraits more intriguing. Brandi continues, “it is as if he suspended the ‘existing’ at that point: and this is then enough, as the presence of the trace itself that divides the being from the existent, the present as existing from the presence”. The nine works in Astanze are sourced from Di Stasio’s previous exhibitions at Sargentini’s gallery L’Attico in Rome, where other esteemed figures in Italian contemporary art such as Jannis Kounellis, Pino Pascali, and Gino de Dominicis have exhibited from the 60s and the 70s onwards.
Enea Eterno and Virgil’s Aeneid
Readings of Virgil’s Aeneid were presented to the public at the Collicola Arena on the 8th of August. Di Stasio’s Enea Eterno (2011) was projected onto the stage while actors Elsa Agalbato, Francesco Biscione and the artist’s brother, Alberto Di Stasio took turns reciting Cantos II, III, IV, and XII of the Virgilian poem. The Aeneid is an epic that follows Aeneas and his companions from Troy to Italy and leads them to the foundation of Rome. Di Stasio’s Enea Eterno alludes to an image of the hero Aeneas and his towering presence in the middle of the Roman skyline.
Di Stasio was born in Naples in 1948 and went on to study at the l’Accademia di Belle Arti. He was one of the founders of La Stanza, an experimental art space in Rome that operated from 1977 to 1978 in Rome. His works were exhibited at the Venice Biennale Aperto ’82; in 1984, after an invitation of the Italian art critic and historian Maurizio Calvesi; and in 2011, as one of the artists presented in the Italian Pavilion. Apart from the Venetian biennial, his works were presented at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Bologna and at the Sydney Biennial (1986). From 2001 to 2004, he performed a pictorial cycle on Franciscan stories for the church of S. Maria della Pace in Terni, designed by Paolo Portoghesi. Di Stasio has participated in four editions of the Rome Quadriennale and several institutional exhibitions. Selected exhibitions are The rediscovered painting, Museum of the Risorgimento, Rome (1999); Novecento, Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome (2001); Avantgarde in the Eighties, County Museum, Los Angeles (1987); Between Earth and Heaven, Museum of Modern Art, Ostend (2001); A century of Italian art. The Feierabend collection, MART, Rovereto (2005); Portrait of a city. Art in Rome 1960-2001, MACRO and Rome and the Seventies in Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2013); The divine comedy in contemporary art, CIAC, Foligno (2016); Scorribanda, GNAM, Rome; and 100% Italy, Ettore Fico Museum, Turin (2018).
Astanze is on view until the 26th of September at the Palazzo Collicola in Spoleto.
All photos by Piero Tomassoni