‘Mysterium tremendum’ is the source of the Sacred, that is the unknown that allures us through the thrill of the sublime. Orazio Battaglia develops a mysterious and tremendous universe, wherein the Being comes barefoot on the stage of the Sacred and it subsumes its everyday character through the Art.

ANGELO CAPASSO: What do you think of the Sacred in art?
ORAZIO BATTAGLIA: Today, the sacred in art isn’t influenced any longer by the strict rules of the past, therefore it can be represented as any other object, through the use and simplification of the icon as the only narrative tool. Centuries of western sacred art have created cross-referenced archetypal forms, which have a domino effect on the viewers’ consciousness. The sacred art, with its two thousand years of psychic photograms, still holds a topical imaginative power that allows me to play with the perception of the invisible.

AC: Don’t you think that there are too many skulls around us?
OB: No, I don’t. I think that, at the moment, you can find more hanging around the streets, the only difference is that they are covered with flesh, skin, hair, etc.; skulls belong to us and accompany us all through our life, each one of us has got one, though we often ignore their existence. It’s odd that we are often afraid of what we will be and that indeed we already are. Should we maybe get scared any time we look at ourselves in the mirror? Then, if there are too many skulls in the arts, we should recognize that something in our everyday life is not going well.

AC: How come you are so interested in death?
OB: As far as I’m concerned, like many Sicilians, my DNA is imbued with the inheritance of our culture; it is full of visionary stories that link the world of
the living with the world of the dead; stories of spectres and ghosts, of hidden treasures, of habits and traditions, where the sacred and the profane are divided by a very thin – sometimes even nonexistent – line. I’m not interested in death, it is the death itself that is interested in life, as the ultimate line of the things; I simply carry on the work started by others.

AC: What are your next projects?
OB: I believe that the present, after few seconds, becomes the future and that the future cannot be controlled; therefore, I always live the present reminding of the past, and I never think of what may come next: everything does come naturally, the important thing is carrying on our work with the usual constancy. After my solo exhibition curated by Emanuela Nobile Mino, I have been invited to take part in some group exhibits. At the moment, I am considering a number of projects for other next solo exhibitions. Meanwhile, in Rome, I keep my collaboration with MOTELSALIERI.

AC: In your opinion, what is the difference between being an artist and ‘doing the artist’? Is it a relevant difference that you have noticed among other artists?
OB: The matter lies in the self-conceit of the single subject. I never define myself an artist and I mistrust those who naively label themselves like that. In my opinion, today there’s such a confusion that every one can ‘do the artist’, though few are real artists. They are dubbed artists by the system, however the doubt remains. Perhaps, those who do the artists confuse art with a job or with a way of living. Artists live an ongoing conflict with themselves, their own visions and artworks and, like an exorcism, they try to cast out their inner daemon: ‘the artwork’, which they reject in order to create a new one. In other words, it’s like a dog chasing its tail.

AC: What do you think of fashion?
OB: I’m afraid I have to give you a sharp answer, but I’m not into fashion and maybe I‘m a primitive of our times. However, I realize that the world of fashion design may influence the production of some artists who follow the dictates of the fashion(ista), eco chic, etc. etc., worlds, thus creating works that embody an aesthetic beauty that risks standardization. I do support cross-contaminations between art and design, but without the supremacy of one over the other.

Angelo Capasso


Orazio Battaglia, Untitled, 2009, oil on canvas, 40 cm x 30 cm, private collection, courtesy of the artist
Orazio Battaglia
DROME 17 – the TIME issue, cover by Nathalie Daoust

Published on DROME 17 – the TIME issue

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