Sunday, April 27, 2008

Giacomo Serpotta

It's been a year since our first trip to Sicily. We went, for the first time, March 2007, with no expectations, just the knowledge that on this little island called Sicily, are secrets, experienced by few Americans. Sophie and I flew on separate airlines, arriving at different times in Catania. We, almost missed each other. I went to bed at 11pm, with no sign of her, she showed up at 1 pm. I'm even surprised the owner of the hostel opened the door, it's a mom and pop hostel, really cheap, so cheap that we stayed there again during our second trip to Sicily. At 45 euros a night for both of us, it couldn't be beat. It rained the whole time we were there (2 weeks) but there were brief periods of dry weather.
It was a trip to remember forever, it was so thrilling that we took a second trip in October 2007 to see the rest of the island. The second trip was as good as the first.
In Palermo, we happened upon the work of a sculptor by the name of Giacomo Serpotta. I had seen pictures of his work, especially his work at the Oratory of S. Zita where his 'whimsical' scenes from the bible and of the battle of Lepanto, decorated the walls. For most sculptors, their pieces are mostly of single person or a small scene but the work of Serpotta in the Oratory of S.Zita is an interplay of scenes from the bible, in 3-d, decorating all the 4 walls of this small chapel. It seems 'whimsical' but it is actually a serious work of art. His work is scattered in a lot of the major churches all over Palermo and in some churches in the other cities in Sicily.
A check of his work on the internet will lead us to a program called 'the Serpotta itinerary' which gives a detailed road map of all his work in Palermo. Our first visit was to the Oratory of S.Zita which is the most delightful. One led to another and before we knew it, we've seen so much of his prolific work and were simply enthralled. While he might have been influenced by artists on the mainland, Serpotta's genius was all his own.
He came from a family of sculptors, his father, his brother and even his brothers in law has their work shown in the major churches in Palermo
It brings home the fact that each one of us has something unique to offer the world. Giacomo Serpotta was not a sculptor like Leonardo da Vinci but if he thought that, we would not be enjoying his genius today. He is different but not diminished in importance.
I have dreams of returning to Palermo and following the Serpotta itinerary again.

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