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Vincenzo Piazza visto da Carlobasso

Vincenzo Piazza visto da Carlobasso ©.


Italiano Vincenzo Piazza è nato a Catania il 30 marzo 1959.
Compie gli studi universitari di Architettura a Palermo conseguendo la laurea nel 1983.
L'inizio dell'attività artistica è segnato dall'interesse verso le tecniche dell'incisione che inizia a praticare nel 1985 durante il periodo trascorso a Nettuno (Roma).
I suoi esordi sono caratterizzati dalla rappresentazione grafica di reperti archeologici, elementi vegetali e strutture architettoniche che indagano il rapporto natura/artificio attraverso piccole deviazioni di senso.
E' del 1987 la sua prima mostra personale allestita alla Galleria Tasso di Bergamo.
Negli anni 1987 e 1988 ha frequentato i corsi di calcografia e litografia presso l'Accademia "Raffaello" di Urbino.
Predilige la tecnica dell'acquaforte e dal 1995 la sua produzione comprende anche ex libris.
Attualmente risiede a Palermo, espone con continuità, le sue opere si trovano in collezioni pubbliche (Raccolta di Stampe "A. Bertarelli" di Milano; Pinacoteca Comunale di Forlì; Gabinetto delle Stampe del Comune di Bagnacavallo; Pinacoteca "A. Martini" di Oderzo; Muzeum Zamkowe Malbork; Ostrow Wielkopolski Museum) ed è presente nelle principali pubblicazioni che riguardano 1'incisione.



English Vincenzo Piazza was born in Catania the 30th of March 1959.
He studied Architecture in Palermo where he got the degree in 1983. The beginning of his artistic activity is marked by the interest for the etching techniques that he started practising in 1985 during the period he spent in Nettuno (Rome). His beginning is characterised by the graphic representation of archaeological finds, vegetable elements and architectural structures that enquires into the relationship nature / artifice through small deviation of sense.
His first exhibition was organised in 1987 by Tasso Gallery in Bergamo. In 1987 and 1988 he attended the courses on copperplate engraving and lithography at Accademia "Raffaello" in Urbino.
He prefers the etching techniques and since 1995 his production includes also ex libris.
He at present lives in Palermo, he exhibits regularly, his works are in public collections (Raccolta di stampe "A. Bertarelli" in Milan; Pinacoteca Comunale in Forlì, Muzeum Zamkowe Malbork; Ostrow Wielkopolski Museum) and he is present in the main publications about engraving.

Critical essay of Egisto Bragaglia, published on Encyclopaedia bio-bibliographcal of the art of the contemporary ex libris, vol 22, Ed. Da Mota Miranda, Portugal. Reproduced by courtesy of the author.

"The aim of Art - says Oscar Wilde - is to reveal the work and hide the artist".
The refined English writer, prince of paradox, denies himself with this sentence. If, in the literature world, there has been someone that has used art to show and not to hide himself, that, without using falsified attitudes, made a work of art of his life and of Art a choice of life, this is Oscar Wilde.


Likewise, about fine arts, it is clear that, at least when they are not imitations, they find their origin in something personal, that makes each of us an unique and unrepeatable individual, and they often have the function of a redeeming act, sometimes unconscious, of mood and emotions. From these considerations comes the conviction that to go deep into the meaning of a work the best way is to meet the artist and to understand his personality.

Recently I had the chance to examine some ex-libris by Vincenzo Piazza, an artist I had heard about during a graphics exhibition. In his etchings what pleasantly impressed me was the balance of the composition and the clear and quite space in which the artist places the meaningful elements that are often dynamically invested by light and wind.
In those small sheets I got a message that deserved to be interpreted. I did not hesitate to try and meet the artist to get the explanation I thought was necessary directly from him. From my city, Bolzano, the most northern capital of province in Italy and Palermo, where Vincenzo Piazza lives, there are about 1600 km, but the distance is not an obstacle if the destination is a city which is rich of history, culture and art.


Palermo is the capital of Sicily, the blooming isle in the heart of Mediterranean sea, that has got the unique privilege to have been part of several events that, from prehistory till nowadays, have scanned the process of History. From Palaeolithic to Greece, from Carthaginians to Romans, from Vandals to Goths, from Byzantine to Arabs, from Norman to Suevians, from Angevins to Aragonese, from Austrians to Bourbons, the civilisations that alternated each other in Sicily have left very important vestiges.


In Palermo, a city lying between the sea and fragrant oranges gardens, lives and works Vincenzo Piazza. The flat in Via Leonardo da Vinci, where he lives with his family, is in a residential quarter recently built at the border of the city.


His studio in via Serradifalco, 44 is in an old quarter, between big buildings and old houses. This is the "habitat" I am interested in. The space that the artist has chosen and furnished and that therefore has the sign of his personality. The apartment has got four rooms at the ground floor. In the entrance room a coach and two armchair are symbol of welcome. From here you get to the "creative" room. There is a table for each phase of the activity. The first one is to read, write and jot down some ideas, the second one is a big drawing table, the third one is for the etching. In the following room there are tables and what is necessary for biting of plates. In the adjacent room there are the press and the instruments for the printing, because Piazza is faithful to the ancient tradition which wants that the artist has to realize all the operations for the printing by himself without delegating to professional printers the efforts of printing, which is probably a boring and repetitive job, but that still remains necessary, to check sheet by sheet, the perfection of the result.

In the past it was established that the graphics to be considered original, had to be personally printed by the artist. This rule is now put in discussion and many artists, because they do not have the press or the space, dodge this commitment.

Looking around, I linger on the shelves full of books, on the artist's etchings hung on the walls, on the functional disposition of objects. In the different rooms I remain just the time to examine the things and their disposition.


I exchange just few comments with Piazza who, up to now has told to me just few words. Now he invites me to go outside in a small garden, a green oasis dotted with colourful flowers, that he defines: "my green room". Here we sit down on a bench and this unexpected rest makes us smile. Our conversation starts with my questions to get closer to him, and with his short, calm and clear answers. Not a word more than is necessary. Not even a trace of the aggressiveness that I often find in similar circumstances. My interlocutor of average height, introverted and laconic, controls with calm his shyness. He just moves his brown eyes. He still looks like a young man: only few silver hair colours his temple to show he is about to be forty.


Piazza is not a very sociable man. He loves loneliness, as a matter of fact he says without any regret to be almost unknown in Palermo. His love for Art is neither passionate or overwhelming as I (being a man from the north) expect from a Mediterranean man; but Piazza is a real Sicilian. His family has lived in this isle for generations; a land rich of fragrance and charm and for several aspects contradictory. He was bom in Catania, a city near Etna, the volcano that during the centuries destroyed the city several times. The inhabitants, for the sake of their land and sea, have always reconstructed it bigger and richer of monuments than before.

When he was at school his teacher initiated him to paint in oil. He liked his attempts, with bright colours and of pleasant instinct, but they did not excited him, so he left paintbrushes and colours.


While he was at the faculty of architecture, in 1977, he used to draw outside the university studies. He felt the desire to fix on the paper images and impressions, but he was not satisfied by the results. He used to shake his head and throw the sheets away without any hesitation.


After some years, in 1984, he got convinced that his drawings were getting better and that they deserved to be improved with a more assiduous and intense care.
"The present results - says Piazza - are just the fruit of a practice pursued with persistence".


In 1985 when he was in the Army in Nettuno, near Rome, he used to spend the time drawing his architectural fantasies. That sheets shown to some local artists, were the occasion for meetings during which he got the chance to know and try the techniques of etching. "It has been a thunderbolt" he says satisfied and adds "it could be said: a thunderbolt on the way to Nettuno".


Consequently the new artistic interests prevailed on architecture that, however continued to be the fundamental subject of his compositions.


In 1986, while he was a teacher in a village between Bergamo and Milan, being close to these two cities he had the chance to go to galleries and exhibitions almost every day. This stimulated thoughts and intuitions that he translated into drawings with Indian ink. In Bergamo he used to find encouragement and welcome. Tasso Gallery used to exhibit his works with Indian ink together with some etchings he had made during the military service. He understood that he had to cope and solve doubts and uncertainties about the complex phases that transform the engraved sign in a work of art. He answered to this necessity in 1987 when he attended the course on chalcography at the "Accademia Raffaello" in Urbino the city where he bought his press.


The experience he made in Urbino opened him fascinating perspectives. All the procedures of printing, enchanted him. In 1988 he came back to Urbino to attend the course of lithography held by Carlo Ceci, who, above all in landscape, could give life to images quivering with lyricism in elegant compositions. The choice of his life was made. Every day, industriously, he followed his path, counting only on his strength, without looking for external helps.

In 1989 he met Furio Romualdi who, from Florence (where he runs the Inclub), sustains the diffusion of engraving in Italy, encouraging the young artists and sustaining the ones who are already known. Piazza is grateful to this sensitive art promoter, because he trusted him from the beginning, opening him the route for the professional activity and for the attention he still dedicates to his works. After having tried the different fundamental techniques of engraving, he confirms his fondness for etching which becomes his only expressive form. Among the great Maestri he loved Piranesi, the Venetian architect that, with the "carceri d'invenzione" and the archaeological views of Rome conquered universal reputation. Now he prefers the works by Giuseppe Viviani (1898-1965) that enchants him for the imaginative ardour and for the absolute values of his language. He personally follows, in the daily practice, with attention each phase of the procedure. He can obtain the effects he wants in the biting, often starting from the beginning, because etching does not allow corrections. After the realisation of the drawing, it is just in the first executive phase, the one that consists in uncovering the metal, drawing with the etching needle the sign on the paint, that he feels the joy of creation. Etching gives him a feeling of strength and happiness and also the impression etching has a therapeutic effect on his body. At the end, when he slowly raises the sheet from the matrix, he feels the tension going down and stops for a while to observe. It is right now that the critical moment arrives, the doubt, that slight dissatisfaction which is probably part of the job, because he goes back with his mind to all the phases through which the work went through. It is not disappointment, it is not anguish, it is not torment. It is a mental process that records the results of experience, the ones that pile up trying and trying, to get, day by day, a bit of experience more. The elements that populate his creative imaginary are visible in his engravings. The scenario are preferably dominated by dark skies where pound hundreds of stars. Open spaces, arboreal and architectonic images prevail.
Dazzling light and whirling winds sometimes burst into the scene, deforming the perspectives. They are signs of a slight pessimism corrected by hopes, ideals and yearning for revolt.


Other symbols, some of them emerging from the darkness of unconscious, remember the mystery of infinity, the silence of mind, the anguish of existence, the toil of living, the aesthetic value as moral reality. It lacks, desperately lacks, the human presence. The artist is alone, maybe for shyness, maybe for misanthropy. He also escapes from himself and always remains outside his scenarios. He observes them, but it is clear he does not want to be there. This makes his works silently melancholy and gives them a touch of light poetry.


I am really afraid he will not like these thoughts. I have noticed he is not very interested in the theoretical speculations his works can be subjected to. This indifference can be shared when dealing with tortuous critical reasoning, where the obscurity is used to hide the poverty of the concepts and the absence of founded arguments.

It is right to say that Art does not need explanation, but if there must be a comment, it must be clear and not so hermetic to be understood only by those in the know. On the social plane there is the suspect that people keep away from modem art also because of the dissuasive power of some critical essays.


Going back to Wilde's paradox, quoted in the beginning, if Piazza makes his works hoping to hide himself in them, I wish he could continue in his commitment being sure that although he will never use that annoying behaviour as protagonist that afflicts some artists, his talent, already positively estimated, will benefit from increasing acknowledgement.

Vincenzo Piazza discovered ex libris only in 1995 and, loving books, he immediately understood his real meaning. He thinks that, as Italians do not read many books (as it is shown by statistics) their relaunching will be difficult. He agrees with me when I point out that are especially the lack of interest of the lower social classes that make the statistics so bad; whereas there is a satisfying number of bibliophiles with good libraries. This is confirmed by the several exhibitions of old books and the existence of many companies that, with success, satisfy the desires of several lover printing very good catalogues. It is to these people that the ex-libris, status symbol of a cultured and refined elite, is particularly addressed.


Unlike other artists, who are isolated in the ivory tower of their inspiration, Piazza listens and accepts the suggestions of his customers, to stimulate his creativeness and get ideas, in the typical way of his formation as architect. From the suggestions he draws his conclusions to which he remains faithful being sure, as it has always happened up to now, that the results will completely satisfy the owner of the ex-libris. He considers this comparison, this dialogue on the subject, as one of the most interesting aspects of the ex-libris activity and, above all a precious chance to meet people and make friends. As a matter of fact he remembers with satisfaction that every assignment has made a friendly relationship and, when friendship already existed it has favoured its consolidation.


The number of ex-libris realised by Piazza till now is not high but the quality deserves consideration. One of his ex-libris cannot lack in the collection of those lovers that look for artists that can interpret their personality, conju- gating the symbolic essence of the traditional sign of possession with the stylistic liveliness typical of a present day artist.

Translated by John Smith

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Mostre / Exibitions.

1996
Ex libris il fascino del tempo che passa,
Castello della Manta, Manta (CU), Italia.

1997
VII miedzynarodowe biennale malej formy graficznej ekslibrisu,
Ostrów Wielkopolski (Polonia/Poland).
Ex libris Pro Loco di Roccalbegna,
Palazzo comunale, Roccalbegna (GR), Italia.
Liuteria nel Mezzogiorno,
Palazzo Farnese, Ortona (CH), Italia.

1998
1ª Rassegna degli artisti A.I.E.,
Sala dell'Orologio, Roccalbegna (GR), Italia.
2. trienále Exlibris,
Galéria Mesta, Bratislava, (Slovacchia).
Concorso internazionale di ex libris,
Biblioteca Comunale, Zola Predosa (BO), Italia.

1999
Acqueforti 1990-1998,
Libreria Misuraca, Cefalù (PA), Italia.
Grafica ed Ex libris,
Complesso S. Bartolomeo, Casale Monferrato (AL), Italia.
VIII miedzynarodowe biennale malej formy graficznej ekslibrisu,
Ostrów Wielkopolski (Polonia/Poland).
Don Quijote en el mundo,
Istituto Cervantes, Amman, (Giordania/Jordan).
Ex libris 1997-1998,
Sala Colombo, Porto Valtravaglia (VA), Italia.
III International Exlibris Graphic Contest,
Miejska Biblioteca Publiczna, Gliwice, (Polonia/Poland).
Omaggio a Segantini,
Palazzo Carpani-Beauharnaus, Pusiano (CO), Italia.

2000
Giubileo 2000 - Il sacro,
Castello Visconti di San Vito, Somma Lombardo (VA), Italia.
Gli ex libris italiani contemporanei,
Palazzo Farnese, Ortona (CH), Italia.
To M. Beyle - Ex libris per il Centro Stendhaliano,
Palazzo Sormani, Milano, Italia.
M. K. Ciurlioniui - 125,
Lietuvos Nacionaline Martyno Mazvydo Biblioteka, Vilnius (Lituania).
Gli ex libris italiani contemporanei,
Warszawska Galeria Ekslibrisu, Varsavia (Polonia/Poland).

2001
Des ex-libris pour Stendhal,
Musée Stendhal, Grenoble (Francia/France).
Gli ex libris italiani contemporanei,
IX miedzynarodowe biennale malej formy graficznej i ekslibrisu, Ostrów Wielkopolski (Polonia/Poland).
Don Chisciotte nell'ex libris,
Oratorio de' Disciplinati, Finale Ligure;
e Nuova Biblioteca Comunale, Trento, Italia.
Ex libris Biblioteca Comunale,
Centro Giovani, Lomazzo (CO), Italia.
Ex libris della collezione AIE,
Biblioteca Civica, Bodio Lomnago (VA), Italia.
"Il segno inciso" incisori a confronto tra Italia e Repubblica Ceca,
Centro Attività Culturali "San Silvestro", Osimo (AN), Italia.

2002
Incisori exlibristi siciliani,
Palazzo Farnese, Ortona (CH), Italia.


Vincenzo Piazza
Via Leonardo da Vinci, 518
90135 Palermo, Italia


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