In a society such as ours, plural and multiform, where humanitarian, social and environmental problems feed on the continuous crisis and constant situations of emergency, art and culture play an irrefutable role in sensitisation, an inducement to deliberation, commitment and responsibility.
There are many artists today who question their own identity whilst considering otherness. For all of us, the undeniable priority is that of the comparison between otherness and ourselves. With others and with the world.
The rediscovery and revaluation of ethical commitment (whilst also civil) involve the latest proposals in visual art and photography, in cinema and theatre, in architecture and design. Although the perspectives are different, the points of view are similar: to intervene using the tools of creativity and to support collective sensibility, strongly promoting the search for art to be like a source of knowledge and form of wellbeing.
Within the sphere of such a vast search, Tarshito with his ‘Works of Peace’[i], joyous and striking, serene and enthralling, indicates possible pathways, whilst operating on a symbolic dimension and, in some ways, magical.
Using more refined, poetic, and elegantly fantastical elements, the artist expresses his personal philosophy of art basing his work on the logic of incorporation, on concepts of sociability, respect for differences, and on rights to creativity.
Artist, architect and designer, since the eighties[ii] he uses numerous shapes, and experiments with art as a concept of communication between the Physical and the Spiritual, between the Thought and the Plan, between Ideation and Meditation. All of Tarshito’s pieces express the need for a long look which is able to transgress disciplinary barriers and linguistic confines, to bring about an expressive synthesis which – with the strength of words and images, of mind and heart – connotes objects and paintings, scenery and architecture, tapestries and sculptures, jewellery and installations. Through the use of natural materials such as wood and paper, cloth and terracotta, paint and metals, crystals and semi-precious stones, he not only involves the observer through mental interpretation but also through sensorial suggestion.
He is inspired by the desire to harmonise the energies of man with those of the universe, the art becomes, therefore, a search for the original essence, a catalyst of strength, a visible place in utopia as well as a process of creative expansion which involves both itself and others.
The artist’s philosophy of art is linked “to the great need for the spirituality of man and woman today” as he himself explains. “Man needs to rediscover his unity. Art is a bridge to draw us nearer to higher levels. Through art, with the repossession of the gesture and its rituality one can improve the quality of the relationship with life”[iii].
For this, he melds the natural with the spiritual, he renews the relationships between human body and mental dimensions, he uses sounds and smells, writings and atmosphere like a therapy to look after the Being.
As icons, Tarshito uses precise figurative symbolism belonging to ancient traditions and cultures both Western and Oriental, referring to the ritualistic and invisible bonds between Earth and Sky, Heart and Mind, Love and Friendship, Peace and Harmony. The pieces, are given the forms of animals and plants (flowers such as the lotus, animals such as the tiger, turtle or fish) and significant materials (such as water, earth, gold, quartz or wax etc.), they suggest connections between what is visible and invisible, the ground and the Divine one. They also belong to mostly present symbolism, the hand, the vase, the roots, easily verified in sacred iconography and not the traditions of various nations.
In the last few years, the artist’s art projects have foreseen the production of pieces created in collaboration with numerous extraordinary people from many countries throughout the world, such pieces are considered part of a great cycle planned with an inter-cultural point of view: ‘Works of Tarshito with… ‘. For example, with both male and female Indian artists and craftspeople, he has co-produced and co-signed the collection entitled ‘Warriors of love’ (miniatures with Raju and Mukesh Swami from Bikaner in Rajstan, paintings with Puspa from the Orissa, tapestries with the Indian association Dastkar in Delhi, cloths with the Ratna brothers from the Warli tribe from the Dhann District in Maharashtra). Amongst the co-creations of recent years, we must also remember the sculptures produced with the Pandit family from Bihar. Other types of work have come about due to the collaboration with young student artists in Great Britain; ceramic pieces have been produced with craftsmen from Puglia; the cloths and rugs have come about due to working with Tunisian artists.
“Using the word With I express the essence of sharing – affirms the artist – I like, with humility and modesty, to share the concepts of every new piece with other minds and other ways of thinking, with the eyes and hands which produce the pieces. I find this flow very interesting, I feel it, it flows in a circular way, this path which corresponds to the construction of my own circle, my own harmony. My circle helps me to penetrate the idea and therefore to pass it with generosity to other sensitive energies, here in Italy, in Tunisia, in India, in other European countries etc. for me it signifies widening the circle, the circle of harmony, to amplify the field of energy thanks to the others and in the end to add to the creation not singularity but multiplicity. Not just for one but for all of them. This is the whole meaning of sharing the work, this is the path of numerous cycles of work ‘Tarshito with… ‘. The inspiration comes through me, I materialise it and then they give it back. This rituality unites all things, it is an attempt to welcome circular harmony.”
The pieces, as Tarshito explains, are united by this passage this circularity which does not exclude anything or anybody. “I am extremely attracted by shared projects in art. I find the ideas which come forth incredibly interesting and produces the work according to my way of thinking and feeling; then other sensibilities and creativity, with gentleness and joy, acquire my thoughts – always in reference to it – they offer, materials, colours, signs, volumes… They offer gestures, looks and caresses which give body to the work. However, together with the body is the idea, they give it soul. Sensitive and available. Open to the collective dialogue.”
It is due to this mode of production through co-operation and sharing, that pieces are offered like works of peace, witnesses to meeting and an exchange between different traditions and cultures that, through art, enter into a creative dialogue.
The Vases and the Skies
It is from the practice of planning based on expressive sharing with potters, cabinetmakers, ceramists, weavers, embroiderers etc. and from the production completed with ideational gentleness, with feasible humility and with ritual gesture expressiveness that such striking cycles of work have come about in recent years. Such as the ceramics from the collection ‘The Vases – Pots’ and ‘The Dance of the Vases’. The vase has a multiform symbolism which contains within itself varied meanings, among which, that of representing the creative principle and in general all that which is linked to life: birth, regeneration, recovery. The origin of life, it is a symbol of Divine creation, but also of human creation[iv]. In the traditional archaic magic-ceremonial rituals, the vase acts as a structure of containment and safeguards energies. Likewise, in many meditative traditions, the internal void of the vase is suspended between the internal and external world. In Tibetan images the vase is a sign of wealth and symbolizes spiritual production, the perfection of the Dharma, longevity and prosperity. The alchemic vase also alludes to the wealth of the soul, to the internal strength of protective value, a meeting of opposite polarities.
For Tarshito, the vase is the source of creativity and of generating energy: “The vases, pots, remind me of myself, the human”. The ‘Man-vase’ and the ‘Vase with roots’, in particular represent the artist’s thoughts; they tell the story of the condition of man, profoundly linked to the earth, like the roots of a tree: “At the same time man is turned toward the Divine, upward. Man himself like a vase, is a ring of union between the sky and the earth. It is really for this reason that the vase must be empty, clean, to welcome inspiration.” In gilded terracotta and in bronze, shining so brightly as though to reflect the world, the vases indicate the ability to receive, including sensory reception as in ‘Hearing – Vase,’ ‘Smell – Vase,’ and ‘Sight – Vase’ or as in the diverse vases with face profiles.
The collection entitled ‘Paintings with writings’ refers to ink on paper (hand-made in the artist’s studio in Rome) containing the essential and elegantly coloured sign which traces the shape (the vase – shape) and some texts picked up by Tarshito after listening to the words of Wise and Religious men[v], met in temples or in ashrams visited during his numerous visits to India.
The artist prepares for the right moment of the painted sign–vase in a particular ritual of meditation and propitiatory gestures; he traces the outline shape marking the border (which is also a union) between empty and full, both spaces indifferently filled with floral decorations and animal figures, and by words and outlines in gold.
These pieces are created due to a great united creative awareness of a strong ritual of the pictorial gesture; in fact the expressive method used corresponds to the breath which in turn means life, the gesture. A gesture ‘prepared’ with the energy and vigour of the moment of inhalation and quickly ‘expressed’ at the moment of exhalation.
The artist’s vision of the gesture and the reading of sacred words (also written with the same attention to ritual) complete a pathway in order that “people can see the gesture and read something extraordinary to appeal to both the heart and the intellect.”
The pieces from the collection ‘Sky’ are made of shapes and circular outlines in wood and gold leaf into which strips of geode are embedded with agate crystals of varying luminescence[vi]. In this case also the shape of the circle is strongly symbolic: a sign of total unity, the perfect shape and a symbol of infinity. In the primitive solar cult, in many religions today, in the Greek Myths and in Tibetan Monk’s ideals, the circle always indicates the essential aspect of life, its complex and definitive globalisation, the absence of distinction or division. The agate quartz, instead, symbolises the protection of the environment and the link between the wellbeing of places and their inhabitants.
According to Tarshito, the circular shape is a symbol of celestial harmony. As in Byzantine art or in the fourteenth century frescos of skies, the mystery of the starry vaulted ceiling, with both darkness and light together, regenerated thanks to the artist. In fact, these pieces by Tarshito recreate pieces of sky, where the distant stars are poetically replaced by circular shapes of agate, a mineral similar to fragments of fallen stars on earth (according to popular legend), that the artist – with humility – symbolically collects and repositions in the pieces ‘Sky’. The double mental gesture of bowing and giving respect to Mother Earth in order to collect the minerals and of the energy necessary to suspend the agate in the sky of the piece, conceptually allows the artist – once more – to close the circle of harmony, to discover, magically, the creative essence of Being.
[i] Works of Peace is also the title of the text written by Daniela Bezzi featured in the catalogue entitled Celebration, edited by Vito Intini, Edizioni Kunsthalle Gallery, Bari 2006.
[ii] Cfr. Clara Mantica (edited by), Tarshito, meditation and project, Electa, Naples 2001.
[iii] Maria Vinella, Writings in Art, Pensa, Lecce 2003, p.77.
[iv] Archaically, the symbolism of the vase was linked to the origin of life, to the Great Mother cult and the Greek Myth of Demeter, the principle female producer.
[v] The writings always contain wishes for harmony and positivism or well-wishing prayers directed at others or himself.
[vi] The pieces “Sky” are part of the cycle “Tarshito With….” and were produced in collaboration with Andrea Natuzzi.