The Janare of Praiano
Artist Enzo Caruso in his own words
I began teaching design of ceramics right after graduating from the Art Institute. Soon after that, I started a ceramic workshop with other artists, called "Fornelle".
I then went out on my own and opened a workshop in Vietri Sul Mare.
I focused my interest on creating unique pieces, mostly ceramic sculptures, and also on researching new materials.
My Praiano NaturArte Project revolves around the theme of the so-called janare, mythical figures often seen as witches. I prepared 10 panels, which will be placed on town walls.
The technique I used is the one of ceramic relief, which is the one I enjoy the most.
I represented these fantastic figures disguised as sirens, sailors or bishops. But I tried to go beyond any conventional representation, mostly by giving them grotesque expressions.
Through the janare, I intended to represent local folk mythology but also to make a reference to the many unconscious, dark fears people have. I wanted to find and highlight the obscure and grotesque aspects of our lives, even in a beautiful natural environment such as that of Praiano.
The janare are present in one form or another in all the folk mythologies of our region. The janare of Benevento, for example, were associated with mountain life due to the mountainous landscape of the area. In Praiano, they were associated with the lives of fishermen.
These witches were known to come out at night and use their supernatural powers to fly on the fishing boats left by the fishermen after work.
Because of its great landscape and its traditions, I find Praiano an excellent source of inspiration. I was thrilled to be involved in a project intended to penetrate and transform the heart of the town, and to provide a special reason for visitors to walk through narrow alleys where they wouldn’t otherwise set foot.
My work often refers to local tradition and mythology in the broadest sense, but I always try to convey it in the accessible language of images. In Praiano, I wanted people to think about the fishermen and their folk culture and that is why I took inspiration from the myth of the janare.
There is an ancient tale of six fishermen who couldn’t find the strength to push their large, heavy boat into the sea. Their cries woke up a janara who was sleeping inside that boat and with her help, the fishermen were finally able to move the boat.
This tale, which I found particularly enchanting, was the inspiration of my work for Praiano.
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