Ulysses and the Sirens in Front of Praiano
Artist Sandro Mautone in his own words
I studied art in my home town of Naples, first in the art high school and then at the Academy of Fine Arts. After graduating, I began teaching high school art in Salerno. Initially, I moved from Naples to Praiano and than later, came here to Cava dei Tirreni.
Since pottery is one of the traditional activities in this area, I later developed an interest in ceramic art.
According to local mythology, the three islets of Li Galli, emerging from the sea in front of Praiano and off the coast of Positano, represent the petrified bodies of the Sirens. Having challenged Orpheus in a singing contest and having been defeated, the Sirens threw themselves off a cliff and formed the three islets.
Since via Costantinopoli, which is one of the longest pedestrian walkways in Praiano, looks out at Li Galli, the myth of the Sirens was the inspiration for my work here.
I created a series of majolica panels, installed at irregular distances, that would illustrate some of the most significant stages of Odysseus’ journey.
In one of the panels, for example, I represented the shipwreck of Ulysses, who had left the island of Calypso, where he was detained. His ship was wrecked by a storm unleashed by Poseidon. Ulysses had blinded his son, Polyphemus, and as an act of revenge, Poseidon unleashed the storm that capsized the ship on which Ulysses was sailing.
I find the Praiano NaturArte project particularly interesting because of its goal of promoting art. Contemporary society is placing more and more emphasis on technology and in doing that it is neglecting the importance of culture and art. In being part of this project, I feel that I am responding to that in my own small way.
I worried a bit about intervening in such a naturally striking place, a place so full of meaning and beauty where any change or addition would be a very delicate proposition. Fortunately the quasi-magical local landscape already has a ceramic component, both in the architecture of the exteriors, and in the majolica shrines.
Ceramic art is already a local feature. And what I tried to do as an artist was to expand on that feature. I feel that those who come to visit a place such as Praiano should want to explore the local culture, and even experience the mood of the town. This can be detected in the people’s architecture and in the ways the natural landscape has been manipulated over the course of history, which is typical throughout the Amalfi Coast.
The involvement of other artists, whom I personally know and respect, made this Project less daunting and more attractive in that I felt a part of a common goal to engage and enrich the existing cultural and artistic fabric with contemporary works of art.
Such an opportunity—to team up with other artists and to work organically in a public space that has both a natural and an urban setting - doesn’t come frequently. And I am grateful to have been part of it.
WATCH THE VIDEOS BY RAFFAELE CAPPIELLO & MICHELE IACCARINO