Basilicata's archaic masks are on display at the Casina delle Civette in Rome

From February 9 to April 28, 2019, the Casina delle Civette in Rome is hosting the exhibition Myth Revisited. The Archaic Masks of Basilicata.

At the Museums of Villa Torlonia, Casina delle Civette(Rome), comes the exhibition Myth Revisited. The Archaic Masks of Basilicata, which will run from Feb. 9 to April 28. The exhibition is within a larger event, organized by theBasilicata Territorial Promotion Agency, dedicated to the whole of Basilicata and the tradition of Lucanian carnival, rituals and myths of peoples that still tell their story. The exhibition displays 38 masks made by artist Nicola Toce.

Among anthropomorphic faces, fantastic animals, magical creatures, disguises, spirits and clay dwellers, the common thread of the exhibition are the narratives that the masks, made with ancient papier-mâché processing and decoration techniques, whisper to visitors, transporting them to another dimension, welcoming and bewildering, characteristic of ancient and contemporary Basilicata.

The works on display tell of places and suggestions to travel to discover links that do not stop at the beauty of Basilicata but are rooted in its art, in the uniqueness of a territory that reflects a culture that knows how to renew itself in its traditions. From rock and gully landscapes, to dense forests steeped in the alea of ancestral rites and myths, to cities of art and ancient villages, to Matera European Capital of Culture 2019.

The exhibition itinerary, room after room, is designed to make the most of each work, letting each one arouse curiosity and create a contact with the thundering masks of Alianesi, with the bear of Teana that hides in its woods, with the domino of Lavello that, strong in its dual nature, leads theyear toward Lent, with the “walking forest” in the streets of Satriano, with the colorful ribbons and black veils of the bovine figures of Tricarico, with the personifications of the months of Cirigliano, all accompanied by the noisy cowbells of San Mauro Forte that not even the fearsome Cucibocca of Montesscaglioso manage to silence, preceding the celebration of Carnevalone by a few weeks.

The multicolored beings created by the artist convey to the viewer all the sensations accumulated through years of study, analysis of nature and patient listening, collecting stories returned through the plasticity of his works to tell of magic, love, fear, colors and materials that are ancient and simple but, at the same time, very current in their reuse.

Nicola Toce was born in Stigliano(Matera) in 1970. After spending the first five years of his life in Calabria, he returned to Aliano, his father’s town of origin. From an early age he showed a keen artistic sensibility and before the age of 10 began to create his own masks to be used during the parades organized for Carnival. He graduated from theState Institute of Art in Potenza and attended the first two years at theBrera Academy of Fine Arts. After working as a restorer, decorator and set designer, from 2008 to 2013 he lived in Girona, Catalonia, where he gave life to his first project related to masks that resulted in some exhibitions and the volume I figli di Lamisco. The Masks of Nicola Toce, published in 2015 by Rubbettino Editore. He has made sculptures and bas-reliefs for organizations, municipalities and institutions. The exhibition at the Casina delle Civette represents the realization of his second project related to masks that, this time, go beyond the borders of Aliano to represent all of Basilicata.
The technique used to create the masks is ancient and traditional, but in the realization of the forms it appears revolutionary and innovative. The treatment of the paper and clay, the expressiveness achieved with the combination of the dyes, very often warm and charged, shaded and light, the use of earths and the incisiveness of the focus make each piece unique and unrepeatable.

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Pictured: Nicola Toce, A Paroccüe (2018; papier-mâché, oil paints and colored earths).

Basilicata's archaic masks are on display at the Casina delle Civette in Rome
Basilicata's archaic masks are on display at the Casina delle Civette in Rome

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