1995 · The archaeological dream

1995 The 1994 Sibyl marks the closing of a phase. The artist felt the need to get back to colour and sign. This meant further doubts and torments. “Oscillating between one form and another, between thin sign and stain sign. Between object and background. Oscillating dangerously between one way of doing things and another but to be sure that for an artist a life would not be enough to finish discovering new ways, systems, variations on the same marvellous obsession that torments him.” In the summer, at Romainmôtier, he started to draw and to paint in a completely new way, rediscovering oil colour. He praised the scent, the ductility, the transparency and above all the robustness of this material. The opportunity arose from an agreement with Giuseppe Lombardo, the son of Mauro, who ran the “La Vite” gallery, who commissioned from him ten canvases to be done in oil. The paintings of this period are no longer impalpable like the “underground Catania” ones and no longer thin skin that creates the illusion of mysterious frescos that can fade away at any moment. These works are the painterly materialization of his new “Archaeological dream”, which brings to light fascinating objects in ceramics, glass and terracotta and discovers sinopie, obsidians, precious stones, engraved jewels, centuries-old ambers and graven woods of barriers that belong to the “mysterious palaces” of his imagination. Many of these works, above all the last ones, were done with a technique that arose from his need to renew the sign, to find material and graphic activity again (after years of “abstinence”). There thus developed the idea of the imprint which appeared for the first time in 1985, in the notebook Speculum - Public action mentioned. These are imprints on paper or on canvas, “shrouds” of his archaeological thought. Mauro Lombardo visited him first in Zurich and then Romainmotier and proposed he should do a publication to get the new works known. In Milan Santacroce met Vincenzo Consolo, who dedicated to him the poem “Dream of a journey” inspired by the picture “Homage to Picasso”, by the photo of the consignment of the lands in the Noto latifundium, and by the works that were to be published in the new book “The archaeological dream.” The preparation of the new monograph demanded his presence in Sicily. He asked the management of the Freudenberg for six months’ sabbatical, but the time was not enough; another six months of sabbatical in Sicily made him decide to leave the Zurich school. He was now to live between Romainmotier and Catania.

1996 Angelo Scandurra went with him to see Gesualdo Bufalino for “The step of the cranes-a painter and a poet”, at Palazzo Cosentino at Valverde (Catania province). In November Bernhard von Waldkirch, the administrator of the Kunsthaus in Zurich, presented the new monograph “The archaeological dream” at the Dante Alighieri Society in Zurich. In December there was a big simultaneous exhibition at the two biggest galleries in Catania: “La Vite” and “Andrea Cefaly.” Bernhard Von Waldkirch was also present.

1998 the fortnightly “Lapis” commissioned from him the 1999 calendar which was presented by Massimo Papa at the Tertulia coffee-bookstore in Catania.

1999 He worked on the “Lapis 2000” calendar which was presented by Angelo Scandurra. There was great enthusiasm over the works for the new “Lapis 2000” calendar above all among Swiss collectors.

2000-2003 At Romainmotier he did the paintings on the “Dialogues of the gods” by Lucian of Samosata and in the studio of Jacques Moinecourt brunia-vases, lutrophoros-vases and the tiles for Apollo’s gate in terracotta. Santacroce, who before the works on underground Catania was considered the “most sulphurous and least sunny” of Mediterranean painters (Dario Micacchi and Fortunato Grosso), with the ceramics done in Puglia at the workshop of the Vestita brothers (Grottaglie) took on a “sunniness never seen before” (Giovanni Miraglia). The architect Salvo Comes got him to do a sculpture in the renewed Piazza Castello at Acicastello (Catania province). The sculpture (a child sitting astraddle the leg of his mother, who in turn is sitting on a bench in the form of a little tribune around a palm tree), at first scandalised the administrators, who then changed their minds, after seeing that the sculpture became a “mascot” for small or big users of the piazza.