ROME – Villa Altieri




‘From the former Prison of Villa Altieri emerges the Atelier against the idolatry of contemporary art’ by Sergio Mario Illuminato

There is a sacred place in art: the Atelier; where the artist lives intellectual and creative production, where every vulnerability is laid bare in failures and mistakes, where they learn the alchemical work of living matter. It is in this intimate cathedral that one separates from the noise of everyday life and expands the voices of time they wish to be reached by, to embrace the authenticity and beauty of how they want to see the world. Here the truth of their human experience no longer needs to be translated by words but a glance is enough. Not everyone is allowed to cross the threshold of the atelier because not many are willing to steal the soul of genuine inspiration, of learning the truth of life the artist wants to adhere to and the genesis of their revolutions. It is here, in the atelier, that one allows themselves to discover the cracks, the tunnels, the underground of this continuous intellectual and spiritual work which then in the exhibition spaces of the devices created seems to become a real and unified artistic vision.

It is difficult to unveil to those who have not frequented them the power that cages an atelier, the overflowing variety of materials they guard. Because the history of art is the history of ateliers throughout the centuries. Just flipping through the titles of books piled up in a creative laboratory reveals that going back to the roots of the Greeks and Romans, one lives in these spaces the mimesis discussed by Aristotle and Plato’s supreme idea of beauty. The concept of drawing of giants in the Renaissance like Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo and the emerging idea of genius referred to the artist not only as a craftsman but also as a philosopher and man of science. In the ateliers, you can touch firsthand in the Baroque how the protection of powerful families and rulers has confused artistic expression and power, up to modern times where ateliers become places of experimentation and rebellion bringing forth philosophers capable of influencing artistic practice with concepts like the subjective experience of reality, the sublime… continuing with the avant-garde in this experience of wonder and terror regarding personal truth. The titles on the shelves of the atelier are numerous and heterogeneous of social, cultural, political, scientific matter and whatever else has led humanity to where we find ourselves today.

If to the books we add the collected fragments of objects, tools, and matter without reason, one feels like on the set of a dystopian science fiction film where man has left and the apocalypse has left only the factory of his ideas.

Wandering in the Atelier allows us to delve into the re-creative spirit of the artist and understand from the mnemonic traces deposited that the zero-hour for art, to live an experience of existence does not exist. We had no other possibility than to bring back the enjoyment of art to its refuge to tell the discomfort and suffering that many experience in seeing contemporary creativity struggling to regain its social function in a time without depth where injustices and deviations lead many to live on the margins, observing from afar the chaos of the world. We tried to rekindle against the removal carried out by the caste of artists and the system of our days, the fire that is still burning at the center of the atelier to tell the strength and vital energy compressed in the creative destruction of the delocalizations identified by Parmiggiani in his childhood. In the mythological nihilism of the dark hypogeal spaces of Kiefer. Because the most relevant space in our heart continues to be reserved above all for the Informal and the protagonists who have erected the amphitheater where our sky is close but without having reached that of contemporary giants like Kiefer and Parmiggiani.

In the museum room on the ground floor of Villa Altieri, we implanted the ruin of the Communicating Artistic Organisms, in their most intimate disposition, close to some statuary memories of ancient and modern ages from the 16th and 17th centuries and a small lapidary, accompanied by a profusion of clues and every essential and preliminary tool of the creative process of all the complicit transdisciplinary artists of this experience. Left a little everywhere on the glass floor of the Loggia through which you can see the ancient cobblestone pavement of the Villa and the remains of some archaeological stratifications emerged during the restoration works, we find books, cinematic frames, photos, dance movements, sounds, a hodgepodge of objects that strip the ambiguity of art against those who want to distance the common understanding of feelings and sensibilities to certify their own elitist status as artists and increase the exchange and use value of devices that have extinguished the transformative power of art and its ability to inspire change and personal growth. Thus simply a helical cycle of the creative process is brought to the spectators in the Atelier of Villa Altieri in Rome to try to preserve the authenticity of art and promote the emotional connection between individuals and their cathedrals of vulnerability.

In this intricate labyrinth of creativity and reflection, there is a detail we didn’t want to overlook: the spaces reserved for young people. State Higher Education Institutes and Fine Arts Academies have a crucial role in the future of art and its social function. It is essential to pass on the torch of our experience, our efforts, and our discoveries to those who will follow in our footsteps. The former Prison of Villa Altieri is not only a physical place but also a mental one, where the promise of a new generation blends with the legacy of centuries past. It is here that art becomes a bridge between the past, present, and future, an anchor of continuity and innovation for generations to come.