Etna, which today generates the stone shaped by Barbaro Messina, was considered by the ancients the place where the gods had their forge, where Hephaestus conducted the first artisan work. The craftsman: the one that combine nature and man, that adds creativity to the elements, earth, water and fire, meeting the needs of utility and beauty of our lives. The craftsmanship of the lava stone and ceramics of Etna is, again, an expression of generosity and greatness of nature, along with the ability of man, and also a rich and fascinating sign of the identity of a people and its territory, its history, its potential.
To the children of Etna, this means they are fire and stone together, the most static and the most dynamic amongst elements. Element that holds opposites together and shapes us in its own image. And the visionary hands of Barbaro Messina, who with his hands sees and shapes, give another life to the stone profiles, they dress the nature with culture.
The works of Master Messina then become the best proof of what the land of Etna really is, true ambassadors of a territory that has been declared world heritage, and that has always been the cradle of civilization. A territory like the one of Paternò, between Simeto and Etna, where water and land come together.
Municipality of Nicolosi
The Municipality of Nicolosi has returned from a long and fruitful collaboration with the Master, from which it has taken inspired impulses for the creation of a school of ceramic coating that has been the driving force in the formation of a young audience of craftsmen that has emerged in the field, innovated and developed by him through the creation of valuable segments of employment, of the lava stone manufacturing.
The best-known product of this symbiotic activity is demonstrated by the preparation of the annual summer exhibition “Lava” that, in the expression “From Etna to Gran Sasso“, constitutes a significant resource in the summer tourism-planning of the City of Nicolosi.
The loyalty to the land, and the strong identity of feeling as a whole, along with the return to the origins of mankind, is the strong sense of the latest works of Master Messina from Paternò, an artist who, as the country that gave him birth, clings with the stubborn will of its vineyards and its ceramists to the fertile – but terrible – hips of the volcano Etna, on the Mount that in June 2013 has been declared world heritage by UNESCO.
A return to Etna, that one of Messina. A return that gained new moves and new force from the rumble of thunder and the whistling of the volcano, turning to Mother Earth first, then to the ancestral origins and to the rediscovery of its bivalent and alternative essence, tangible in the immense belly of the mother, but also of stepmother. The artist does this following with the passages of Virgil: “and Aetna’s throat / With roar of frightful ruin thunders nigh. / Now to the realm of light it lifts a cloud / Of pitch-black, whirling smoke, and fiery dust”, which is echoed by Milton: “[…] thundring Ætna, whose combustible / And fewel’d entrals thence conceiving Fire, / Sublim’d with Mineral fury, aid the Winds, / And leave a singed bottom all involv’d / With stench and smoak“.
It’s the stench of sulfur, into the hell of the legends, what today Barbaro Messina affects, to make it visible, with the yellows of pure gold on shapeless cowboys that the lava has created in gullies or exploding in the air. Messina hurts the pieces of basalt born with this violent birth, with bright red spots, and turns them into valuable sculptures, precisely carving the harrowing oxymorons of the volcano: the fire and the ice as well, desolation and fertility, in the capricious use of the consternation of the flames’ reds, but also the warm whites of the snow, which in turn overlap merging with brilliant yellow sulfur furrowed on sooty black lava.
Barbaro Messina at Expo
Master Barbaro Messina will attend Expo 2015 in Milan. for the occasion, however, he will not represent Nicolosi let alone Paternò, but Uruguay, with whom he collaborated for several months with his studio LeNid. Through the use of lava, Messina manufactures tiles, floors, walls, furniture, objects and vessels. His technique enchants because it can bring to life lava on volcanic basalt, with bright colors and motifs of Byzantine and Greek culture.
“I’m not telling the story through the stone, are the very stones that tell”
Streaks and spots, spurts and flashes of color, explosions of color tones, such as incandescent fountains of lava run through both the polished slab, and cut from the blob of lava sweeping, both the boulders entrapped in lavic gullies during the furious births. Scars, gashes, cracks, violent tears and cowboys, fire detectors and tellers of the volcano’s violent nature, have recovered and retraced with the brush strokes that the artist’s imagination of Messina suggests, while other touches and other stains reveal the contrast with the ambivalent green fields and terraced flower gardens of its valleys.
The combination of opposites fertility and destruction seems to be the characteristic feature of this new artistic adventure of the master paternese, a combination in which he wants to establish a new dialogue with the volcano, in the will to grasp the uniqueness of the phenomenon and its natural duplicity. A completely unexplored way, in the vast world of ceramicized lava, of rendering the exceptional nature of the mountain and the amazement of its uncontrollable tantrums, its ancestral phenomena, while the artist pauses, contemplating the unique warmth of its flames and the fertility of the land that is generated by the Mongibello.
It seems as well, taking the last works of Messina, the teacher wants to celebrate the metaphor of the Mount Etna, tormented between motherhood and dryness, fertility and death, imagining it as a terrible womb that if on the one hand gives birth to rivers of fire, on the other hand knows to stop itself to give life and with it the sense of the earth, dear to man.
Etna of love then, but also fire and then ice mountain and volcano, mother and stepmother, cold and heat, as the lover is Mongibello. And it is Etna the love of Messina, that love born old, cultivated and protected for its binary essence and that he represents ceramizing the finding where the observation planes shade into each other, merging with the material that has left traces of its glow in stone shrunken and still painful, mysterious for the horrors of the explosions.
The matter is made in this way, pure action, volcanic, and it even becomes stage for all the elements that the evocative scene of the Mountain has prepared, while the patches left on purpose on the rough stone tell other torments and other intrigues, dramas and adventures, myths and stories that in different points, traced by the hand of the artist, are shot with bright and crawling colors among the stark, fertile slopes of Mount Mother Etna.