Leafing through the photographic archive of Splendid Sicily. The Splendid Sicily celebration of Sicilia nostalgia in all its form
Pietro Sciortino, painter
“Art is the concept and expression of beauty, of freedom and of the human soul, wich transmits emotions through creativity”
My name is Pietro Sciortino and here we are in my workshop where I spend the whole day, happily, in the company of art.
I work on the wood that is treated, I make the surface smooth and then I start my drawing.
I make drafts that are not final but that I change constantly depending on my inspiration.
For example, this is an attic where there are various objects such as majolica, the doors of a Sicilian cart, my brushes, a pinocchio and who knows what else I will add.
I start with very bright colors and then I do some glazing that makes the work look aged.
They must be lived works, as if catapulted into the past.
I work mainly with acrylic paints.
My workshop is like a refuge but in reality many friends come to visit me and we spend afternoons together chatting.
We are in the historic center of Palermo and many people stop by, foreigners and Sicilians, in a cheerful atmosphere.
Many schools pass by and I am happy to have contact with young people, to share my art.
Young people, as it happened to me, need to learn about and to be curious.
I have told a lot about Palermo, my city, Sicily. I made works that I called attics, where people put their memories, their emotions, their treasures.
My works are very dreamlike, almost childlike, surreal, an emotional world.
They ask me why you put Pinocchio, which is not a Sicilian toy. I made him ours, Sicilian, by making him travel in Sicily, for example in the catacombs of Palermo where he found the famous Rosalia.
Pinocchio also went to visit the puppeteers and then I took him to Caltanissetta in the sulfur mines.
I fell in love with ancient Sicilian majolica by visiting ancient palaces in Palermo. These eighteenth-century Sicilian majolica are wonderful.
Mine is a seemingly fairy tale world, but fairy tales are often messages for adults.
Many people ask me why I often represent Palermo in my works. Palermo is a beautiful city, a bit of a prostitute and a bit of a noblewoman, it gives you and takes you away. I love it with all its merits and defects.
Madness is a fantastic, surreal way, and I find myself in it perfectly. In madness you see things that others don’t see.
I’ve been doing this job for thirty years and I’ve only realized how much time has passed when I looked at this monograph.
I started with the houses of tolerance here in Palermo, even If I don’t know why. Maybe out of curiosity, to peer into a world that didn’t belong to me. And so I researched, interviewed, visited. And this made me realize that before creating a work of art I had to document myself.
I made 30 portraits of the corpses of the famous Capuchin catacombs in Palermo. For me it was very touching because my father, in order to feed his family during the war, took sacks of flour and, pursued by the Germans, took refuge in the catacombs and was saved by a priest who hid him inside a dead man’s coffin. When I returned to the catacombs I saw my father again in those sad moments.
I understood that often you don’t have to go in search of something, it will be this something that will arrive, you just have to have the ability to grasp it, to catch the inspiration.
The creative people of Trinacria
The objective of S.A.F is both to safeguard the traditions and ancient crafts of the people of Sicily, and to sustain economically the Artisans and the Artists, both the real ethno-anthropologists of the country.
The writers transcribing down through memory to the pen; artisans use their hands and flair.
Both use their hearts.
Author: Giovanni Vallone, Cultural Department of Splendid Sicily
Translation: Giovanna Battaglia, Cultural Department of Splendid Sicily