I always describe Pietrasanta to friends, particularly non-Italian friends, as having the perfect “crumbly beauty” of a Tuscan town. While some of the local palazzi are preserved impeccably, others tend to have those patinated facades where the stucco is less than immaculately maintained. However, when absorbed as a whole, there is perfection in the imperfection. A flawed beauty.
In 2011, when we wanted to open our art gallery, Accesso Galleria, we knew Pietrasanta was the right place. Some say this town is the center of contemporary art in Italy; I tend to think this is correct. Numerous galleries here host exhibitions by world-class artists.
The visitors to the city are just as varied and impressive. On a typical evening, I might bump elbows with both experienced collectors and first-time contemporary art buyers. Alternatively, an unassuming visitor may show up at the gallery, and only later do I discover that he or she is a prominent collector.
The common thread for these and other visitors to Pietrasanta is that they’re hungry for something new—particularly from Italian artists.
That’s what led to our newest exhibition, a site-specific solo show by the Italian artist Vitaliano. Titled “Wa,” it’s based on the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi and epitomizes Pietrasanta’s “crumbly beauty”.
Wabi-sabi is best boiled down to a simple concept: the wisdom and beauty in imperfection. Here, Vitaliano’s large paintings depict beautiful faces, often female and of Asian origin. But, as in the architecture of Pietrasanta, imperfection is a vital ingredient: Vitaliano frames the paintings in roughly soldered metal. Glass may partially cover the faces, but in shattered fragments; canvases are often torn; pieces of rusty metal retrieved from the beach are woven through the canvas or even nailed onto the frames.
The show fits with Pietrasanta’s charm, but it’s as thought-provoking as it is aesthetically pleasing. As we consider potential future exhibition spaces for “Wa,” I’m curious about how the artworks might stand up in a city where such “crumbly beauty” does not exist. But for now, they’re perfectly at home here in imperfect Pietrasanta.
Until July 30
Via del Marzocco 68–70, Pietrasanta (LU)