Critics’ Picks

Salvatore Arancio, Loblolly Jack Gray Knobcone, 2016, glazed ceramics, MDF, dimensions variable.

Salvatore Arancio, Loblolly Jack Gray Knobcone, 2016, glazed ceramics, MDF, dimensions variable.


Salvatore Arancio

Museo Civico di Castelbuono
Piazza Castello
August 5–November 7, 2016

In this solo exhibition curated by Luca Cerizza, Salvatore Arancio’s sublime and psychedelic site intervention—full of both actual and imaginary references—functions as an homage to his native Sicily and its volcanoes, with their mystically and erotically tinged aesthetic elements. The show opens with eight caprices of sorts: black-and-white photo etchings (dating from 2006 to ’14), which the artist generated by digitally cutting out and recomposing landscapes from Victorian texts, manipulating them to efface both their dated aspects and their human touch. In the room where they are installed, Arancio intervenes in the genius loci, covering an existing central walkway with a PVC film that filters out the spectrum of light from blue to red. An epic and hypnotic sound in the adjacent room turns out to be from a video titled Cathedral, 2014. Shot in Super 8 on the island of Staffa in Scotland, it depicts the dark cave of Fingal, and its majestic basalt columns. Arancio has filmed it rhythmically, altering the original footage with colored filters and superimposing chemical signs and hexagonal figures, as if to reveal the site’s esoteric nature.

The artist is fascinated by the symbol of the pine cone—an indigenous representation of fertility and abundance: The work Loblolly Jack Gray Knobcone, 2016, comprises spray-glazed, pine-cone-shaped ceramics in lysergic hues, all displayed on a white base—and seems to symbolically evoke a wooded landscape not unlike the nearby Madonie mountains. The exhibition concludes in the museum’s tower, where a fifty-centesimo coin, laser engraved with the image of a labyrinth, mingles with coins that tourists previously left as offerings.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.