THE MEDIEVAL TALE OF ROCCA DI ANGERA, BETWEEN ENCHANTED GARDENS AND PRINCES’ FORTRESS, ENCOUNTERS THE UNCANNY IMAGINARY OF THE WORKS OF 15 INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS
Text by Fiammetta Cesana
In one of the most evocative places of North Italy, amid accurately designed gardens bringing us back eight hundred years, Rocca di Angera towers enclosed by Lombard Prealps with a spectacular view sheer on Lake Maggiore’s rocky shore. Medicinal herbs surround the church, majestic frescoes portray the life of Ottone Visconti by painting one of the most important fortress’s rooms, that of Justice, and the Museo delle Bambole, founded by Bona Borromeo at the end of the eighties, collects dolls and games from the 18th century…
A path through history and nature that, before landing to the south side of the lake on the slopes of the Rocca, explores archipelagos and parks, among the botanical and architectural wonders, from Baroque era on Isola Bella and from Renaissance on Isola Madre, up to the wholly bucolic stage of Parco Pallavicino which has become a real wildlife museum and of the 500 hectares of woods of Mottarone. Terre Borromeo, owned by the eponymous family since the 15th century, offer an edenic experience by intertwining the atavistic charm of nature and the ancient traditions with which it used to be respected, with the richness of a unique historical and cultural heritage in the region.
Today Rocca di Angera, however, is not only a huge chest of medieval treasures, but is also widely enriched with contemporary beauties from all over the world, which are certainly no less fantastic…
By the will of the princes who today carry on the family name, Vitaliano and Maria Borromeo Arese, the Ala Scaligera of the Rocca hosts its third exhibition of contemporary art. In collaboration with Galleria Continua, which from the former cinema in the Tuscan village of San Gimignano has extended with exhibition spaces of various kinds between China, Paris and Rome, the Rocca invites us to discover “Fantastic Utopias”, a journey through the works of 15 artists international curated by Ilaria Bonacossa.
Imagination, illusion, secret, magic… aren’t these the principles that govern the laws of desire in today’s society? The wish to escape, to discover something extraordinary nary in a world of conforming identities, to fantasize, to delude reality with sublime effects, to feel ourselves bearers of beauty and mystery… The planet of the unlikely seems to coincide more and more with that of real.
Hence the works of the artists – among the best known names on the contemporary art scene, like Jonathas De Andrade, Antony Gormley, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Kiki Smith, Ai Weiwei – built between sensitive knowledge and escape into the maze of imagination, including the scariest ones, manage to fit with total naturalness into the medieval tale of the Rocca, which, like every story of the past, is shrouded in mystery. We often relegate surreal myths and legends to ancient memories indeed, through our very existence and present time are studded with impossible visions, utopias of beauty, and need to find refuge in alternative dimensions. Not only the all-encompassing use of technology to face and filter daily routines, but also the artistic, literary and cinematographic passions prove the common desire of letting the mind fly in fantastic narrations, where super powers, monsters, dystopian futures or pasts tell a more delightful drama than ours. The operas exhibited in “Fantastic Utopias” dig into the unconscious, into the most disturbing beauty, in the sense of relief that arises from the confrontation with the dark. Anthropomorphic sculptures, flying fish, mirrors and flower-stars that reinvent the space, gardens on table, illusory painted arcades… A mythically real course, where the material of which each work is made of becomes the secret lair of a new sensational world.
Fantasy thus becomes a comfort, an antidote and the best medicinal herb, to the perpetual uncertainties of tangible reality.
Rocca di Angera (VA), Italy
Until November 1st