Campania: Doni

Imago Mundi

Authors from Campania

The desire to catalogue the art and creativity generated by all peoples, in the form of nation- by-nation collections, is certainly ambitious and atypical on the international circuit. The arte milieu usually aims more at specialization and creating art collections built around themes, languages or particular trends, that give a distinct identity both to the collection itself and to the collector. But Luciano Benetton with his Imago Mundi collection is doing the exact opposite. His is a broad vision of what it means to create art in today’s world. He is putting together collections that, if on the one hand keep territorial recognition alive, on the other form part of a broader and more general picture. This blurs the borders and differences at work in any single field, with its crossovers, cross references and wanderings, where each work lives by its own light but at the same time gets lost in a mosaic where even the tiniest tile has value in the realization of the bigger picture. So the logic behind the collections within Imago Mundi seems to be that you first find yourself and then lose yourself, you are first present but then melt into an experiential geography that moves from the particular to the general, from the individual to the whole. Each participating artist has accepted the Imago Mundi concept, embracing it and participating wholeheartedly, fully aware that, sooner or later, their work is going to be absorbed into the bigger overall work. This overall work is shaping itself into a device for communicating multiple visions, a bit ragged round the edges and disjointed, all vehicles for a myriad of personal feelings and different artistic and creative journeys with no expectation that they have any kind of common goal. This picture of the world can only retreat into oneness, one color, one theme but it entrusts itself to difference and variety, color variations, multiple reflections, broken shapes and chaos. Therefore, when it comes to the Imago Mundi project, it is difficult to talk about art collections or anthologies but rather it seems better to talk of visual atlases in the form of large geographical and cultural maps, where every now and then the observer loses his own sense of belonging and feeling only to find it again the moment a particular little canvas touches him, regardless of the nation that birthed it. In this sense Imago Mundi performs a little magic every time it is exhibited: territorial borders blur as they enter a dimension outside space and time. Here feelings, common languages, absolutes and overarching themes tell the story of us all, the story in which we recognize ourselves and identify with. So the challenge of Imago Mundi is not to amass as many works as possible, but rather to see the project as a way of representing and sharing the unlimited ways of describing the human soul.

Mimmo Jodice - Senatore Romano, Neapolis (2015)

Luciano Benetton’s collections therefore cannot be judged using the theoretical instruments used to analyze art collections in their traditional sense and it would be useless to trust a single critical, aesthetic judgment of the individual artworks in the many collections. More productive by far to consider the root thinking that has motivated the businessman and his team for years: their desire to retain tangible memories, little threads, of the criss-crossings across the world, keeping alive in one’s mind words one has heard and shared with all the people one has met, even in an utopian sense, on all these journeys. The Imago Mundi project takes on the paradoxical task of channeling into itself experiences, signs and symbols which would normally take a lifetime to accumulate, choosing paint on canvas as the greatest index of expression.

Rosaria Matarese - Sberleffo Con Stile (2015)

Enzo Calibe - Una Proposta Minima, Ma Niente Affatto Minimale (2015)

Iabo - Twhitler (2015)

In its careful journey back and forth around the world, the collection dedicated to Campania is unedited, being among the first to be dedicated to a specific region and not an entire nation. This leads us to hope that that there is a strong link between the businessman and this region. It certainly shows a heartfelt choice and one that Benetton is clearly keen to explore further, through artists’ eyes and works done by artists who live in, or love, Campania. Here, too, I have the feeling that the collector is looking for something special in these artworks: familiar sounds, things dear to him, things that bring back special memories or visual pictures, all inspired by this special place in the world.

Valentina De Rosa - Connessioni (2015)

Quintino Scolavino - Asino Allo Specchio (2015)

The hope now is that we have managed, with this collection, to generate from every single artwork a little taste of the innumerable artistic explorations and experiments that both form and enrich the culture of this region. They assemble many different artists and generations, all of whom have been invited to develop free thought through free action.

After All - Avevo Un Foglio Di Carta Piegato In Tasca (2015)

Roxy In The Box - Martiri Da Bere (2015)

From my point of view, I believe that every artist invited to take part for Campania in the Imago Mundi project saw it as a challenge, working in the small format available, never letting down their guard, making the most of it, nailing in a timely way the idea that, every now and then every artist has wanted to communicate. For this reason I chose to call the collection ‘Doni’ – ‘Gifts’, in English – acknowledging and valuing the action of exchange and reciprocity that led these artists to produce their pieces. This is the fruit of a shared commitment to take part in something so large that control of its parts and its context tends to get lost.

Luisa Terminiello - Doposcuola (2015)

Fabio Abbreccia - Senza Titolo (2015)

Iole Capasso - Oltre (2015)

So, all the artists have been able do is to choose to produce a work especially for Imago Mundi, and keep the faith, giving a little tile of their work and letting it enter what is often an unmanageable and uncontrollable process. For this reason, the idea of a gift as something offered not expecting anything in return seemed to me to be the best way to thank the artists who trustingly accepted my invitation, giving me and Imago Mundi a moment of their attention and a part of their creativity. Thinking about it,
it was the same process of building a collection to be developed as if it was a ‘give and receive’, a way forward comprising concentric circles: starting with a nucleus of artists, gradually these same artists – later also with curators, gallery owners and critics – exponentially broadened my horizons, bringing new people into the project, keen to take up the challenge. Of course, my most sincere thanks go to all these people, including the Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples, its director Giuseppe Gaeta and the Vice Director Erminia Mitrano who, along with the coordinating lecturers, helped me in the complicated task of selecting around thirty students, who were ready to participate in the Imago Mundi collection.

Daniela Di Maro - I Didn’t Make It For Honey (2015)

Antonio Biasiucci - Ex Voto (2015)

Anna E Rosaria Corcione - Italia 2015 (2015)

So, a kind of controlled chaos has guided my task which has moved forward little by little; taking stock from time to time, step by step adjusting to new acquisitions, always driven by my desire to offer a cross-section of Campania’s art. The intent has been to paint the broadest picture possible of contemporary artists and creative people moving from first-year works of Accademia students through to others from renowned artists and masters, and on to works by young Campania artists who, through installations, performance, video, painting and sculpture, have been attracting the attention both of national and international critics for some time now. Careful attention has been given to middle generation artists, artists present in public and private collections who have donated their work with great passion and professionalism. Young photographic talent is particularly noteworthy, comprising a conspicuous focus in the collection, showing the great passion and exceptional uniqueness of photographic art in Campania. Also to be noted are the artists using the languages
of video and performance. These are especially praiseworthy for having accepted the challenge of the small canvas managing to present their particular kind of art so well. Merit also goes to the designers, graphic artists and illustrators who have elected to take part, so widening the horizons of art in Campania. The experiential landscape of the Imago Mundi collection has extended its vision still further by including artists who, although not native of this region, have spent part of their careers working in Naples and for Naples, and have enthustiastically accepted to reppresent this region, clearly feeling that they really belong here.

Baldo Diodato - Siamo Alla Frutta (2015)

Marco Palmieri - 04 Nodi·Knots (2015)

These are all reasons that really made me want to explain how the Campania Collection was put together and grew. When I consider the great trust and dialogue I have built with the leading artists involved, ‘Doni’ seems to me to be the best choice of name for the collection. Born from the start to resist pressure to adopt a defining, overarching theme, artists have been given full freedom and deliberately not been given too much guidance. In this sense, the collection has been self- determining in terms of its own development with its multiple- identity vision, in terms of the authenticiy of each artwork and also in terms of the knowledge that,
although it involves a lot of people, it still remains incomplete and open to new possibilities.

Chiara Scarpitti - Correspondences (2015)

Marisa Albanese - Filo Rosso (2015)

Giuseppe Corcione - Sos “Save Our Souls” (2015)

‘Doni’ is effectively a gift that a group of artists drawn from Campania and beyond is giving to the Imago Mundi project and to its philosophy; an echo that wants to penetrate all minds that are lucid and keen to act in respect of different cultures and loving their differences.

Independent curator and art critic

Riccardo Dalisi - Da Qui No! Da Lì Si (2015)

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