IL BLOG E' DEDICATO A FRANCESCO PENTASUGLIA, MAESTRO NELL'ARTE DELLA CARTAPESTA, NEL CENTENARIO DELLA SUA NASCITA. This blog is dedicated to Francesco Pentasuglia, on the occasion of the centenary of his birth.

martedì, marzo 06, 2007

Michelangelo Pentasuglia (In English)

Michelangelo Pentasuglia, from Matera, 72 years old. One of the last witnesses of the precious art of papier-mâché. A versatile artist, grown as a self-taught man at the school of his father, Francesco Paolo.
The Pentasuglias’ artistic tradition is intimately linked to the historical tradition of July 2nd, day when Matera celebrates the Virgin of Bruna. During the years, Michelangelo Pentasuglia has made, by himself and with his father’s collaboration, more than 40 papier-mâché carts, regularly destroyed at the end of the celebration day. This artist’s precious hands give shape to decorative elements able to express at its best a people’s devotion for their patron. “My cart of the Bruna comes up before we start to assembly the wooden structure, since its soul is already contained in the sketch which sums up the Gospel message suggested by our Bishop. Then the cart takes shape, layer after layer, in a process of constant becoming that makes each cart different from the preceding ones, in a creative course where imagination braids with the manual ability and experience”.
And Pentasuglia tells about his approach with the workshop that is linked to a strange anecdote: “When I was a child, I did not like much going to school; I preferred playing with “buttons” with my friends. When my teacher asked my father the reason of my repeated non-attendance, I was hardly able to limit his anger. It was 1947 and it was then that I said my father that I would have preferred to follow him in his job, at the “factory of the cart”.
Thus, Michelangelo Pentasuglia has never attended any art academy. Better still, he is proud to be a self-taught person, like his father, and to be an artist recognized and famous despite he only attended the primary school.
Today, we were saying, the papier-mâché artists are disappearing. And Michelangelo Pentasuglia is worried. “My hope - the artist says - is all contained in the intensity with which my grandson Domenico, 4, looks at me while I am working. In his eyes I see again the same passion with which I tried to catch the secrets of this art from my father”.
And yet, in the past, there have been several attempts to create a school for papier-mâché which could allow the artistic growth of young talents.
Vain attempt! “We must believe in it more. We need investments able to expect a return that is not immediate, since this job cannot be learnt in a few months. If we could understand that the papier-mâché is an integral part of the culture of Basilicata, then we would be able to hope in a future that can guarantee to this tradition continuity in time”.
Anyway, it is known that those who choose the road of art do not find easily the economic acknowledgments for the care they spend and the talent they express.
“Sincerely speaking - Pentasuglia confides - my workshop is open everyday. I spend in here most of my day, because I never lack work. And yet, from the economic point of view, I can peacefully say that “I live with dignity from day to day”. I cannot deplore, but surely art does not make you rich”.
Yet Michelangelo’s hands (is it a casual name?) express a never ending richness and a permanent tension towards the “beautiful”. And his works, at last, are crossing the regional borders. Apart from making the triumphal cart of the Bruna, Pentasuglia’s artistic activity is linked to the creation of papier-mâché Nativities with terracotta statues, fine-gold plating in churches and frames.
A 5-star hotel that is opening in the town of Sassi will order him headboards with papier-mâché elements to decorate its double beds. And then also gift and fancy goods, wedding keepsakes and paintings, always under private order.
This interview to M. Pentasuglia was made by Filippo Olivieri
You can find the whole article "La magia della cartapesta" in :

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