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Current exhibitions

Mare Nostrum. Le Cinque Terre e il Golfo dei Poeti nelle collezioni del CAMeC

The selection of works proposes a compendium of representations of the seascape of the Gulf of La Spezia and the Cinque Terre. It places side by side numerous visual texts of varying styles which are linked by the common theme of homage to and remembrance and experience of the La Spezia territory. The exhibition itinerary does not follow a chronological order but a thematic one, beginning with the town of La Spezia and the deep inlet it faces onto, which was christened “Gulf of the Poets” by the dramatist Sem Benelli In 1910. Over time, this evocative name has acquired added impact thanks to the numerous illustrious literary and other figures who have stayed here, including Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary, David Herbert Lawrence, Arnold Böcklin, Richard Wagner, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Mario Soldati. These works are followed by several paintings dedicated to Lerici, Portovenere, Cinque Terre, accompanied by graphic works with differing styles and techniques.

The exhibition presents a considerable sample of what are considered “historical” works, i.e. coming from the original body of permanent contemporary art collections of La Spezia. This body of works began to be collected just after the Second World War in 1949, the year of the first of the 13 editions of the “Golfo della Spezia” National Painting Prize, an exhibition-cum-competition which up to 1965 attracted the most important Italian painters and has accumulated over 200 works thanks to the far-sighted prize/purchase formula. In the early years of the Gulf Prize, the regulations called for “sea-inspired” entries, and this has in fact gifted us with numerous paintings linked to the seascape of the La Spezia territory, even though in various cases the style is abstract. The aim of the exhibition is in fact to juxtapose and compare works which interact with one another regardless of the similarity or difference of their formal expressions, with the focus on their common reference to the special beauty of this portion of Liguria and its "vertical" sea, as the writer and journalist Marco Ferrari effectively defined it.    



P. 0

February 16, 2022 / September 17, 2023


The color room





P. 0
February 9, 2022 / September 17, 2023



SARENCO, whose “stage” name derives from the acronym “SAskia Retourne ENCOre”, a homage to a fleeting but intense love-story from his youth, was an extraordinary interpreter of the 20th-century international art scene, as well as one of the main, certainly the most charismatic, exponents of Visual Poetry on a world level. Sarenco (whose real name was Isaia Mabellini) is a nom de guerre, a fighting name under whose flag he aimed to combine the expressive unity and the poetic identity of a rebel against the establishment and the dominant culture.
He was a brilliant, ironic, fascinating, also mocking, irreverent and acutely unconventional artist, but also a formidable performer, tireless explorer, explosive director, implacable exo-publisher, daring photographer, as well as a protean organiser of cultural events in Italy and abroad. Besides this, he was a multi-faceted, eclectic protagonist of the most important international art exhibitions and shows: the Venice Biennale, the 1972 Documenta 5 of Kassel, the MoMA of New York, the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam, the Centre Pompidou of Parigi, the Mart of Rovereto.  
Sarenco was in all respects an intellectual warrior of rare wisdom, unpredictable and captivating, whose cultural interventionism arose from an extremely clear, far-sighted vision the final aim of which was the pursuit of so-called “Total Poetry”. Sarenco’s idea was to demonstrate to the world that nothing could be creatively denied to poets: neither painting nor sculpture, pottery nor performance, concerts nor theatre, video nor cinema. Hence in fact the concept of Total Poetry, pursued through his very personal, singular, synaesthetic “Poetic struggle”.
The exhibition itinerary comprises around 170 works representing a 50-year career. Alongside these are bibliographical and archive images and documents which reveal the particular historical period he lived in (exo-publishing magazines, posters, photos, flyers etc.), many of which are extremely rare and some of which are shown for the first time.
A riot of works, from the 1963 visual/poetic projects, Traditi (Betrayed) , Grande Strage (Large Massacre) , Finalmente l’Avanguardia (At last the Avant-garde), governed by the force of Futurist free-speaking and the graphic echoes of Mallarmé; moving on to the emulsified, ironic and revolutionary canvases such as Il popolo è forte armato vincerà (The people are strong, if armed they will win)  or Avanti o popolo alla riscossa (Forward oh people to reclaim your rights), in which Giotto’s praying angels in the Scrovegni Chapel of Padua are transformed into a choir singing the Italian words of the Red Flag anthem. Another sublime example is the cycle of works in which Sarenco ironises on the “still lifes” [t/n: “dead natures” in Italian] of Giorgio Morandi, mocking their freshness and originality with plays on words such as Più morta che natura (More dead than nature), Mors tua natura mea [t/n Your death is my nature, a distortion of Mors tua vita mea], Morituri te naturant [t/n a distortion of Morituri te salutant]. These are followed by the collages and assemblages of the ‘70s on, such as Poetical Licence and the cycles Tabù (Taboo) and Tempo (Time); then the large installations such as I mei poeti (My poets), four huge white sculptures of Apollinaire, Breton, Marinetti, Tsara, representing the infinite stature of poetry; or the Autoritratti africani (African self-portraits), ironic and mocking. Then comes the cycle of works linked to the portraits of the Red Indian Poetesses of the Sioux, Apache, Comanche, Navajo tribes and generally of all the native peoples of America, which allude to the absolute sense of freedom and emancipation in the face of all conditionings of every era and degree. Finally, the cycles of works Il Poeta è nudo (The Poet is naked), Solo come un poeta (Lonely as a poet) and Andiamo a scuola (Let’s go to school) give clear evidence of Sarenco’s obstinate rejection of homologation throughout his existence; he was always ready to testify to the deep sense of life through poetic, creative, revolutionary, provocative and irreverent action.

He was born Isaia Mabellini (Vobarno, 1945 - Salò, 2017). A visual poet, performer, explorer, director, editor, photographer, organizer: one of the most talented, active, unpredictable, and explosive figures in contemporary art in Italy and the world.
He attended the ‘Arnaldo’ classical high school in Brescia and studied philosophy at the University of Milan. In 1961 he began to write his first linear poems. Starting in 1963, he began to research visual poetry, making his first contact with artists in ‘Gruppo 70’, which he officially entered the following year. His contribution to the movement was marked by the scratching, caustic tone with which he developed epigrammatic texts, which he associated with various images from the worlds of communication and art. Using the techniques of collage, assemblage, or emulsified canvas, he thus created works with a strong impact, which he used as an instrument of political and cultural struggle. In 1965 he started to exhibit his work, with more than 50 personal and 1000 collective exhibitions in his portfolio.
He conducted intense editorial and organizational activities. He founded magazines such as Amodulo in 1968 and Lotta Poetica in 1971, and publishing houses such as Edizioni Amodulo in 1969, SAR.MIC in 1972, and Factotum Art in 1977.

He founded groups such as the Gruppo Internazionale di Poesia Visiva (or Gruppo dei Nove) and Logomotives. Starting in 1982, Sarenco undertook numerous trips to Asia and Africa, investing new energy into his creations, as always charged with irony. From that moment on, the African continent became the protagonist of his artistic production. He organized four editions of the International Art Biennial of Malindi in Kenya (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012).
He wrote his first screenplay in 1968, which he would then film in 1984 with the title Collage. He was invited to present the film at the Venice Film Festival the following year. Other full-length films would follow. He published more than 40 books and made 15 films.
He was a regular participant in important international art reviews, including four editions of the Venice Biennial (1972, 1986, 2001 — curated by Harald Szeemann with a personal room — and 2011), Documenta Kassel (1972), the Seville Biennial (2004, together with Cattelan), Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1970), Centre Pompidou in Paris (1989, 1994), Museum of Modern Art in New York (1986), MART in Rovereto (2007-2013-2015), and Museo del Novecento in Milan (2013).



March 31, 2023 / January 14, 2024


Blue. Works from the CAMeC collections

The exhibition project is made up of 37 works from the CAMeC collections which have a single element in common, the prevalence of the colour blue. Thus the exhibition takes visitors on a diversified itinerary through the various, even distant artistic expressions; and at the same time it invites them to concentrate their attention on physical and mental perception, on the visual and emotional impact, on the evocative and symbolic power of this colour. In the first room, differing representations of seascapes are placed side by side; our eyes and our collective imagination are called on to absorb the blue of the sea and the sky.

The second room has paintings with different themes, dominated by the emancipation of colour, the free definition of the paint texture regardless of its local significance; it is the dominant spiralling of blue which characterises every subject.

The third room presents further interpretations with very different styles: the Surrealist vision of Magritte and Max Ernst; pure abstraction; a minimalist celebration of colour which becomes a mental image.  

Finally, the exhibition presents the film Blue by Derek Jarman, made by the British director just before his death, when he was afflicted by loss of sight. It is a kind of spiritual last will and testament which uses a single, identical blue frame and a commentary with several voices. The author expresses this extreme segment of his life with the voice, and at the same time he chooses as the background the colour IKB, International Klein Blue, invented in fact by the artist Yves Klein, who patented it in 1957 and from then on made it the main focus of his artistic research.

Egyptian blue, indigo, Maya blue, ultramarine, cobalt blue, Prussian blue, cerulean blue, Klein blue, YinMn blue: the history of the blue pigment began in the Egypt of the 3rd millennium B.C, thanks to the extraction of the precious lapis lazuli, and it passed through many centuries and civilisations, finding a distinctive use in the history of western art (particularly significant are the Virgin Mary’s attribute of the blue mantle and the use of blue in portraits of the aristocracy); also in literature (the jacket of the idealist the Young Werther is blue, the dress of the tormented Madame Bovary is blue); again in the culture of fabrics (for example the blue jeans which have remote origins but are omnipresent today; but also the Prussian and Napoleonic uniforms). 

There have been numerous well-known psychological investigations into the psychology of colours, their symbolic and evocative value, their established action on the emotions. The choice of blue and its widespread use in production and communication are in fact explained by the effects which this experimentation has revealed: this colour is associated with calmness and tranquillity, and favours meditation, harmony, hence productivity. Since blue is commonly associated with harmony and stability, it was chosen as the colour of the flags of the United Nations and the European Union.
Artists on display:
Hans Jean Arp, Pietro Bellani, Pier Giulio Bonifacio, Luciano Botto, Felice Casorati, Angiola Cassanello, Bruno Cassinari, Roberto Crippa, Jan Dibbets, Max Ernst, Dan Flavin, Fernando Farulli, Omar Galliani, Remo Lorenzetti, René Magritte, Katia Martelloni, Derek Jarman, Francesco Martera, Francesco Menzio, Giancarlo Manganaro, Pablo Echaurren Matta, Robert Motherwell, Enrico Paulucci, Nicola Perucca, Concetto Pozzati, Bruno Pulga, Filippo Sartorio, Aligi Sassu, Pino Saturno, Jesús-Rafael Soto, Ettore Sottsass jr, Francesco Vaccarone, Claudio Verna, Enzo Vespignani.


Exhibition promoted by:
Municipality of La Spezia
Mayor, Pierluigi Peracchini
General Manager of Cultural Services, Rosanna Ghirri
and produced by: 
CAMeC Centro Arte Moderna e Contemporanea 
curated by: Eleonora Acerbi in collaboration with Cristiana Maucci
graphic design: Sarah Fontana
with the contribution of 
Coop Liguria
press office Municipality of La Spezia: Luca Della Torre | Tel. +39 0187 727324 |




August 8, 2023 / January 14, 2024