The richness of artistic expressions is one of Sicily's distinctive features. Deriving from the fantasy and the human ability it has given life to outstanding masterpieces. The human ability is an important trait that has crossed the centuries and that will always be representative of this Island.
The founding of the "Movimento Culturale Vitaliano Brancati", at
Scicli, is a perfect example of this artistic ferment. Founded by a number of
young intellectuals around the "Giornale di Scicli", the group is
characterized by a will to rediscovery and exploit the territory, to preserve
and pass on its culture, to have an important and direct role in tracing its
cultural and historic identity.
The group is mainly composed of painters and sculptors; Piero Guccione was its first President.
Its activity, mostly personal or collective exhibitions, started in 1980, with the organization of a conference on Elio Vittorini and an exhibition of graphic and engraving arts.
In 1981 it was organized the Itinerant Exhibition "Immagini e riflessioni
intorno ad un albero che muore" (Images and thoughts around a dying tree),
showing in Scicli, Ragusa, Palermo and Rome. The central nucleus of the exhibition
was constituted by some pastels on the "carob" theme and by a series
of pictures denouncing the local urban decay.
That same year two students, Franco Polizzi, painter, and Carmelo Candiano, sculptor, both attending the Accademia di Venezia, started distinguishing themselves.
A collective exhibition was held between December 1981 and January 1982. This event gathered works by Alvarez, Candiano, Guccione, Polizzi and Sarnari, all among the earliest members of the "Scicli Group".
Still in early 1982 the group organized the "Insieme per la pace" (Together for Peace) Exhibition, showing works of local and national artists like Attardi, Calabria and Eustachio.
In 1983, a Collective Exhibition was held at the "Il gabbiano" gallery,
Ragusa, displaying works by Candiano, La Cognata and Polizzi.
In 1984, a Collective Exhibition held at Pozzallo, Ragusa, displayed works by Guccione, Polizzi, Candiano, Paolino and others from an exhibition held at Donnalucata (Ragusa) by the same Candiano, Polizzi, Puzzo and Paolino.
In 1986, at Donnalucata (Ragusa), the group organized the "L'opera e il
tempo" (The work and the time) Exhibition, gathering works by Guccione
In 1987 the "Arte negli Iblei" (Art in the Iblean area) Exhibition displayed works by Alvarez, Candiano, Guccione, Lissandrello, Polizzi, Sarnari and Paolino and other artists from the Syracusa area.
In 1988 Sarnari, Guccione and Alvarez held Personal Exhibitions, and the group met Guglielmo Florilla, who held a Personal in Ragusa.
Between July 1989 and April 1990 the group organized an Itinerant Exhibition called "Opere Insieme" (Works Together) aiming at valorizing the strict connection between the artists and the social reality of the Island. Alvarez, Candiano, Caruso, Fiorilla, Guccione, Polizzi, Paolino, Puzzo and Sarnari were among the artists involved in this project.
A very important moment dating 1991 was the invitation to the XXXXV edition
of the Premio Campigna, at Santa Sofia di Romagna.
For this event the group arranged the "Opere insieme, artisti iblei" (Works together, Iblean artists) Exhibition. Several artists were involved, among them Salvatore Chessari, Giovanni Lissandrello, Giovanni La Cognata and Piero Roccasalva.
Chessari stood out for his representations of the ocean floors, Lissandrello for his of fossils, Lacognata for his portraits and his Sicilian landscapes, and Piero Roccasalva for his portraits and his "still life" works.
In the following years other Collective Exhibitions were organized. One was arranged by the "Giornale di Scicli" gathering works by Chessari, Polizzi and La Cognata. An Anthology of Chessari was held in 1994 at Conegliano. Another one was held in Palermo between 1996 and 1997, proposing the works of the original members of the group: Alvarez, Candiano, Guccione, Polizzi and Sarnari.
Among the more recent events we mention the Exhibition held at the Galleria Marrieschi, in Monza (Milano), with works by Candiano, Alvarez, Caruso, Guccione, Polizzi and Sarnari. This event contributed to approach a number of young artists to the group, such as Giuseppe Puglisi, Pietro Zuccaro, Sandro Bracchitta and Giuseppe Colombo.
A short biography of the artists composing the "Scicli Group" allows readers to better know and appreciate their works, and to understand the creative genius that has led to their splendid achievements.
Sonia Alvarez was born in Marseille in 1932. Soon she and her family had to move to Provence because of the war.
She finished the high school and entered the private Académie of Marguerite Allard. At 20 she got married and moved first to Maroc and then to Paris where she attended the courses of the Académie Juillard. The artist has also lived in Rotterdam and in Argentina.
In 1975 she definitively moved to Sicily.
Unfortunately, her works prior to the mid-seventies were lost because of an accident in her studio. Nevertheless her following production remains a great proof of her artistic genius.
In the years the artist has mellowed, starting from her favorite expressive means, oils and pastels, evolving in every aspect of her profession though keeping her constant perfectionism and artistic tension. She has passed from the exterior representation of the objects to a magic narration, from an exact indication of the space to a slightly more ambiguous description, where light contemporaneously enhances and fades things.
Her painting can be seen as a detached revolt, a careful analysis of the vital space, an expression where the human presence is just sketched.
Sandro Bracchitta was born in Ragusa in 1966. After finishing his classical studies he set out for Florence where he attended the Accademia di Belle Arti.
There he developed an interest in graphic arts and eventually got a scholarship to the "Il Bisonte", a school of graphic specialization.
In 1994 he settled in Sicily, in his native city, where he opened a painting and engraving studio.
Presently he combines his personal exhibiting with his profession as a professor of engraving at the university.
His works have highly symbolic meanings and show tension and energy, features that has made his production extremely appreciated.
His engravings impress by their extreme precision.
Carmelo Candiano was born in Scicli (Ragusa) in 1951. After high school he attended a course of sculpture at the Istituto d'Arte di Siracusa, then the Accademia delle Belle Arti di Firenze and other courses at the Accademia di Venezia. In 1980 he definitively settled in Sicily where he met Guccione, Alvarez and Sarnari, and has taken part in numerous collective exhibitions. He has also held solo exhibitions.
Candiano uses various materials to create his works such as limestone, lava and sand stone. Presently he mostly works with the pitch stone, that is a kind of bituminous limestone.
His artistic career has gone through several phases: he has achieved sculptures representing his friends, his family, the children's play, literary and mythologic themes, characteristic scenes of peasant life, sunflowers and still life works.
Also, Candiano has a strong bond with nature and the present day. His artistic technique uses high and low relief to create the tridimension typical of his miniature works.
Ugo Caruso was born in Scicli (Ragusa) in 1926. He spent the early years of his life in Lybia because of his father anti-fascism. After completing the artistic lyceum in Rome, he attended for two years the Faculty of Architecture.
He began interested in painting thanks to his brother Ignazio, having a passion for this art. He particularly likes the works of Paul Cezanne.
In the late 60s, after his first exhibition, the artist preferred to get out of any economic constraint required by this business, committing himself to teaching and to his personal studies.
In those years he reached a new expressive phase that brought him to a new vision of the urban space, a sort of experimentation, that also involves the nature and the land themes.
Caruso is extremely fascinated by the land surrounding him, by his beloved Scicli, a territory that he wants to represent by analyzing and illustrating minor traits like the enclosures and the wells.
He loves the existential realism, Guttuso, Picasso, the German expressionism, the historical realism, and achieves his characteristic touch in the representation of poor environments.
Giuseppe Colombo was born in Modica (Ragusa) in 1971. He studied at the Istituto Artistico of Comiso and then at that of Urbino and completed his studies at the Accademia delle Belle Arti di Roma. He has held a Personal Exhibition presented by Piero Guccione and has taken part in the works at the Teatro Garibaldi di Modica's Tondo.
In spite of his young age the artist impresses by his command of the image definition and of the narrative effectiveness, and by its ability to individuate and to represent the plastic nucleuses.
Piero Guccione was born in Scicli (Ragusa) in 1935. He studied at the Scuola d'Arte of Comiso and at the Istituto d'Arte of Catania, where he graduated in 1954.
After the studies he set out for Rome, returning to "his" Sicily at the end of the '70s.
He is renowned as painter and engraver.
His artistic career is rich of important events such as the Biennale di Venezia and the Biennale de Paris, both in 1966, and includes numerous collective and personal exhibitions.
Guccione focuses his attention on the aspects of human and daily life. In his works he is able to respect and to combine the classical geometries with an ever-renewed freshness.
He has a deep passion for nature and his works always originates from the real life.
The representations of landscapes and things, and the illustrations of places of the Ragusa area are probably the best expression of this artist. His career has gone through different phases, like his "cycle of land and sea" produced around 1970 and the "representation of objectivity" between 1973 and 1976.
His artistic expression is able to analyze and represent even the smallest details.
GIOVANNI LA COGNATA
Giovanni La Cognata was born in Comiso (Ragusa) in 1954. He attended the Istituto d'Arte of his city without completing his studies. He spent much time at the town library where he met the writer Gesualdo Bufalino, that he has deeply admired.
In the beginning of his career he produced portraits until he was noticed by Piero Guccione who invited him to take part in a Collective Exhibition of young artists. He then moved to Milan and got over his first difficulties with a friend's help, Salvatore Fiume, his fellow-citizen, who introduced him to an art dealer who commissioned him a number of landscapes. About ten years later he has definitively returned to Sicily.
His landscape representation is somehow human and direct; his nudes are trenchant and impressive.
His paintings show a distinctive use of colours and sense of light.
Franco Polizzi was born in Scicli (Ragusa) in 1954. In 1973 he graduated at the Istituto Statale d'Arte di Siracusa and then enrolled at the Accademia delle Belle Arti di Venezia. His participation in several art events held at the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa gave him a scholarship that allowed him to organize, at the same Fondazione, his first Exhibition.
He returned to Sicily in 1978 and met the "Scicli Group" future founders, with whom he struck up a close friendship.
In 1984 he has moved to Rome where he has held an Exhibition and met outstanding painters like Guttuso and Kopp. He still lives and works in the Capital, though maintaining a deep bond with his native city.
This artist impresses by his notable shape sense, his almost melancholic classicism, his relentless ambition to catch the wonder. During his artistic career he has represented the Iblean Plateau, interiors and exteriors, while recently tending towards a more visionary dimension. His paintings illustrate Sicilian places where the sky-light is dominating.
Giuseppe Puglisi was born in Catania in 1965. Fond of drawing, he enrolled at the School of Art of his city. In that period he studied and appreciated the great painters, such as Antonello da Messina, Leonardo and Monet.
In those years he met Pietro Zuccaro and Franco Sarnari, with whom he has developed a close and proficuos relationship, and other artists from the Iblean area .
His artistic career officially begins in 1994 with his first solo exhibition, curated by Gabriele Musumara.
A second important event is a Collective Exhibition that he held in 1996 at the Casa dei Carraresi in Treviso.
In 1997 he exhibits at the Cefaly Gallery in Catania.
More recent exhibitions were held in 2000 at the Cefaly again, and in 2001 at the Galleria La Murzia in Palermo.
His painting is remarkable for a precise use of colours, the specific character and the expressivity.
Puglisi has a deep bond with Tornabuoni, with whom he shares certain melancholic traits, and with Sarnari.
He uses to depict lovers, cities by night, swimmers or ships in the Catania Gulf.
Franco Sarnari was born in Rome in 1933. He is a self-taught artist. He attended a three-years advertising course in the end of the '50s and started his career in a little studio in Rome. His early exhibitions date back to 1958. He took part in the IX and X Quadriennale Nazionale d'Arte in Rome, in the XVIII and XXV Salon de la Jeune Peinture in Paris, and in the Biennale Romana at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome.
In 1971 he moved to Sicily on occasion of a Collective Exhibition organized in the Ragusa area.
In 1989 he was appointed to the chair of painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Catania. Among his recent activities there are an important Anthology Exhibition in 1994, curated by Marco Goldin at the Palazzo Sarcinelli in Conegliano, and a participation in the XIII Quadriennale d'Arte of Rome. Among his major works we especially mention "Il mare si muove" (The sea is moving), "L'onda" (The wave) and "Il tempo ripetuto" (The repeating time).
Remarkable are his fragments, the particulars he represents and through which he searches for truth.
Pietro Zuccaro was born in Catania in 1967. His study of dance helped him to assimilate the rigour required to approach to painting with devotion and discipline.
Sculpture and photography, attracting him as well, has often represented an important source for his creations.
He attended the School of Art in Catania where he met Giuseppe Puglisi and Franco Sarnari. The latter would present Zuccaro first Exhibition.
His Personal at the Galleria Cefaly of Catania in 1997 shows a particular phase of the artist production and research, that is to say his interest in the sea and in reflected images.
His art shows interesting characters especially in the dynamic surfaces, colours and reflex. Zuccaro is especially noted for his abstract paintings.