Vulcano Cuore, the unique exhibition by Lello Esposito

2nd July 2021

Vulcano Cuore is an exclusive exhibition hosted at the Hotel Le Agavi in Positano.

It features the most recent works by local artist Lello Esposit: a series of sculptures and paintings inspired by the history and traditions that characterize the whole area around Naples.


Among the symbols depicted, we find the Sirens, represented with the face of the splendid Ancient Greek women, the body shaped like a horn, and a sort of turreted termination on the head. This type of reproduction combines two vital elements of antiquity: the Sirens with their long history and the bronzed horn, the metal par excellence of the Greek world. 

The Siren-Horn takes up the grand and imposing Greek sculpture, which can also be noticed in the Pulcinella-Horn, another exhibited work.

 

 

The cult of the Sirens

The cult of the Sirens is usually considered a sign of Ancient Greece's civilization. However, we should not forget that this element is also present in the Neapolitan culture, where the devotion to the Siren Parthenope is strongly felt. That's why we should look more into the origin of Sirens' myth. We can maybe point out the transition to the Greek world through the Rhodium.

Strabo, a Greek geographer who lived in the first century BC, identified the home of the Sirens in the islands of Li Galli, three solitary and rocky islands located in the stretch of sea in front of Positano. In fact, the islets of Gallo Lungo, Castelluccio and Rotonda, still retain the name Li Galli.

As a reminder that we are in the realm of the feathered Sirens, an aluminum rooster's head, over half a meter high, welcomes visitors to the entrance of Hotel Le Agavi.

The Sirens are always represented on rocks jutting out into the sea and visible from afar. Parthenope is buried near Pizzofalcone in Naples, Leucosia at Punta Licosa, which closes the gulf of Salerno to the south, Ligeia at Punta Campanella, which delimits it to the north. The location comes from the mythical trait that characterizes them, i.e., attract sailors and then cause their death. The cliffs were, in fact, supposed to be a point of reference for sailors from afar. But in the end, the tides would drag the boats onto the rocks, resulting in the death of the crews.

 

The mask of Pulcinella

Another archetype of Lello Esposito's symbolic direction is the mask, or rather the half-mask, with its long nose and big cheeks, typical of Pulcinella. Like the Siren, Pulcinella is also pictured with the shape of a horn.

The sculpture evokes an image of light-heartedness with a vein of sadness, the true nature of this Neapolitan character. He's always had to face many difficulties in his life and tried to overcome them, sometimes with lightness and sometimes with sadness.

 

 

Naples' triad with St. Januarius

Another evocative representation is Naples' triad with Pulcinella, Mount Vesuvius, and Saint Januarius as protagonists in a large canvas on a blue background. St. Januarius is painted in red in memory of his martyrdom and bishop's robes. Pulcinella stands out for his white hood and black mask, while Mount Vesuvius is depicted with a plume of smoke. Many artists have long used this representation, especially the foreign ones, who love the image of Naples with the smoking volcano.

However, Januarius is not an ordinary Saint. He is above all power and people's pride, devotion, hope, and confidence for Neapolitans. Every year, for centuries and centuries, the prodigy of the melting blood remains unexplained. St. Januarius is the heart of Naples: his Treasure allows us to enter the deepest core of the city and its culture. Anyone, king or simple foreigner, has felt the need to pay homage to the patron saint of Naples.

Taken from "Il Pantheon partenopeo di Lello Esposito" by Matilde Romito.

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