Americas Cup may be over, but there are still more stories to tell. I suspect there will be for a long time to come yet. Some stories have been yelling out from the rafters. Others have been mere whispers. Some, may never be told.
As I was being pulled in 20 different directions with events to attend, pictures to take, news to keep up with, and posts to write I was feeling a bit too caught up in the glitz of it all. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the spectacle, but I was missing the whispers.
My encounter with Neapolitan artist Luigi Mazzella couldn’t have come at a better time.
At the suggestion of my friend Anna, I went with her to meet Luigi at his studio in the Vomero. Tucked into the former wine cellars of Cardinal Ruffo of Calabria in the historic Villa Haas, it was everything I’d hoped for and more. Walking into a dimly lit anteroom, I found myself surrounded by an extraordinary body of work created by a man who has dedicated his entire life to his craft.
I didn’t know Luigi’s work before meeting him, though I confess I should have. He, along with his brothers Elio and Rosario who are both painters, have been fixtures in the Neapolitan art scene for over half a century. Known as Fratelli Mazzella, the Mazzella Brothers, they are among the major figures of the 20th Century Neapolitan Art World and post WWII artists in Italy.
The student of artist Ennio Tomai (1893 – 1969) whom he still remembers with fondness and reverence, Luigi’s calling is sculpture. His medium, is primarily bronze. An ancient and perhaps dyeing craft, Luigi’s works are anything but antiquated. From sketch to sculpture, his work is realized in a contemporary language all his own that is characterized by fluidity, movement and reflection, both material and personal.
Best known for his large bronze works, primarily statues and panels, Luigi’s public and private works and private and collective exhibits are too numerous to mention. A few however, stand out. Of special note was an open-air exhibit of his large scale panels and sculptures at Palazzo Reale in May 2001. In 2010 Luigi was among the Neapolitan artists inducted into the Novecento a Napoli Museum at Castel Sant’Elmo. And in 2011 he participated in the 54th edition of the world famous Biennale di Venezia.
Most recently Luigi put his talent to work creating a series of commemorative statues for the America’s Cup World Series, Naples 2012. And this of course is why I went to meet him. To see this maestro’s take on the event that was consuming the city.
What I found was a series of work that could have only be created by an artist who has spent his entire life in Naples. Centered around the theme of Naples, Vesuvius, sailing, and the sea, each piece artfully connecting this historic event to this ancient city. Hand cast in bronze, the theme is carried out on front and back, commemorating both the event and the city and of course, bearing the maestro’s signature.
In the short time I spent with Luigi and his younger brother Elio, who currently has an exhibit at the Museo ARCA, Museo d’Arte Religiosa Contemporanea, I got much more than I came for. Wandering through his studio was like wandering through his mind, though clearly my map only showed the major highways.
Books, sketches and prints, and works by him, his brothers and his maestro Tomai cover every wall, every horizontal surface and even the floor.
Old wooden tables play host to Luigi’s smaller works like his Pulcinella atop Vesuvius.
And glass cabinets house his beautiful jewelry collection that includes necklaces, bracelets, and his hand crafted signs of the zodiac, one of which I am now the proud owner.
Luigi and his brothers take great pride in their work individually and collectively and they are happy to share it with anyone who is interested. To learn more about Luigi’s work check out his website Luigi Mazzella or contact him at email@example.com to arrange a tour of his studio.
Luigi’s America’s Cup collection is available for purchase in 3 sizes and a commemorative key chain at his studio in the Vomero. His jewelry, zodiac collection and small works are also available for purchase there.