1985-1989 · Catharsis and “Underground Catania”

The big commercial success of the graphics led him to a moment of reflection that flowed into an identity crisis. Now and then, for a long time, he no longer engraved nor drew any more. The painting research began. The thin line became a “cruel stain” as in the five Indian inks that he did on the occasion of the birth of Giovanni Emanuele (his first son) and as in the two hundred original drawings that he did in an old notebook that he called Speculum-Public action. In 1988 he began his imaginary journey towards the unexplored places of his Catania, repeatedly buried by the eruptions of Etna and by the earthquakes the followed one another over the centuries. He brought to light from the deep dark bowels of Catania painterly works that nobody would have been able to see if he had not painted them. In these paintings the figures emerge from the canvas through an operation of excavation of colour, in perfect coherence with his mental operation tending to dig up and discover the places of Mediterranean collective memory. In September 1989 he moved to Zurich, where he taught at the Artistic High School of the Kantonschule Freudenberg. In the same period at Romainmotier he met the writer Katherina von Arx, who convinced him to move with his family to the old village, where he took part in the cultural projects of the “Graphics Centre” and the “Worterhaus.” In this period he went positively through teaching experiences (in which a fruitful exchange of experience was to take place between him and the students) but he did not in the least undergo the influence of the Zurich constructivist and conceptualist artistic climate. Confrontation with that type of art, on the contrary, was to consolidate his autonomous figurative development. 1990-1994 In February 1990, on the occasion of a study trip for the Artistic High School in Zurich, for the first time he visited “The hard stones workshop” in Florence. He was so impressed by the luminescence of the colours of the minerals on display in the showcases at the museum that he immediately did some works in which he rediscovered the joyfulness of colour and the force of the material. In 1992 he did two big canvases on the theme “justice” for the hall of the Institut de Droit Comparé at Dorigny commissioned by the University of Lausanne. After a full five years he once again started to draw with the technique of assembling in the thickness of colour spread with a spatula the signs of the nib soaked in ink. Subsequently, still dissatisfied with his nib that slipped on the surface, he “armed himself” with tips and started to scratch the fresh colour material. This journey inside material led him to the extreme consequence: sculpture. In 1993 he did his first bronze: The mutilated satyr. From that moment on he entirely dedicated himself to the study of volumes and material. He was to try out baked and raw earth, chalk, polystyrene, plasticine, waxes, finally arriving, in 1994, at the realization of the big bronze of the Sibyl, commissioned by a Puglia industrialist for his nineteenth-century palazzo at Tricase (Lecce).