Postcard from Naples, Italy: Snippets shot in final four museums

Detail of “The Devil and the Holy Water,” Salvatore Postiglione, 1887, Gallerie d’Italia – Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano

Inartistically and illogically clumping works from four museums in this one post – 15th-century religious paintings, a Joan Miro retrospective, a house museum, contemporary art. The museums are getting short shrift in treatment because they are the final ones the blog will visit in Naples before moving across the boot of Italy. The grouping does offer a glimpse of how diverse and rich the art offerings found in Naples are.

As is oft the case, our camera lens seems to often focus on the devils lurking in religious art, but what dark thoughts were in the mind of Neapolitan painter Salvatore Postiglione when he conceived of “The Devil and the Holy Water” are unclear to me.

I never had thought of holy water as dangerous before. But, indeed in hindsight, it should have been obvious that the Coronavirus devil was lurking in fonts at the front of Catholic churches everywhere. Catholics always pause to dip their fingers in the communal pool of water and immediately raise them up to touch their face to make a gesture symbolizing the Holy Trinity and baptism.

March brought the draining of the fonts, but how many viral contaminants were shared by the faithful by then? So very, very sad to think of those who might have been harmed by turning to their religious rituals for reassuring comfort….

Postcards from Naples, Italy: Palazzo adapted to showcase contemporary art

Mimmo Paladino, 2006 rooftop installation at MADRE

The 19th-century Palazzo Donnaregina, referred to as “an example of historical stratification,” was purchased in 2005 by the Campania Regional Government for rehabilitation as a contemporary art museum. Much of the work was completed under the guidance of Alvaro Siza Veira, a Portuguese architect. By 2006, two floors of MADRE – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina – opened to the public. Daniel Buren’s brightly colored and illuminated installation in the entryway of MADRE sets the tone for the contemporary contents.

When we were there this past fall, there was an impressive exhibition of work, “Whisper Only To You,” by a South Korean artist, Yeesookyung. During her residency in Naples, she incorporated pieces of Capodimonte porcelain into the design of her large shapely vessels.

The master potter was trying to create the perfect piece each time, and he would discard even the ones with the slightest flaw. So I chose to create new forms from them, because perhaps, I don’t believe completely in that kind of perfection. To me, a piece of broken ceramic finds another piece, and they come to rely on one another. The cracks between them symbolise the wound.

Yeesookyung, interviewed in The Business Times, 2013

Postcard from Malaga, Spain: Centro de Arte Contemporaneo

Yet one more contribution to the explosion of art museums in Malaga, the Contemporary Art Museum opened in a spacious former wholesale market house in 2003.

Some of the works pictured are from the permanent collection; others are from a temporary exhibition open while we were there, “Make Something Different.” The show spotlights the resurfacing of Pop Art reinterpreted through the eyes of a new generation merging influences of “cartoons, animation, games, music, underground culture and advertising design.”

I had not realized the museum’s proximity to two enormous building-size murals pictured in the prior blog post on street art in Malaga was no mere coincidence. The poster above indicates that works by artists D’Face and Shepard Fairey – “managing quality dissent since 1989” – were featured in a two-person show in 2015. On his website, D’Face describes the luxury of large-scale:

Whoever said that size doesn’t matter? As an artist working in a world of image saturation through mass media, it’s always been important for me to make art that stands out from the crowd – nothing does that quite like a mural. From Los Angeles to Tokyo, every wall I’ve ever encountered presented a unique challenge, its own concrete personality. There’s nothing quite like stepping back from a wall you’ve had to do battle with for a week and seeing your vision come to life. They’re big, they’re bold and they’re downright badass….