Artist Profile: Alessandro Lugari
Alessandro Lugari is mosaicist with dual visions. As a contemporary practitioner, he a leader in the medium, forging a patch for a broad emerging base of artists to discover the expressive relevancy of mosaic today. As a historian and conservator, he acts as a vanguard against the threat of time and decay to some of humanity’s greatest antique mosaic treasures. Rather than seeing these parallel visions as antithetical, calling for contemporary art to rupture with the past, they exist on a continuum that celebrates a whole history of creative expression in mosaic.
A native of Viterbo in central Italy, Alessandro gravitated toward historical stewardship from the beginning, studying Conservation of Cultural Heritage at University of Tuscia in Viterbo, before specializing in mosaics conservation in Ravenna. Starting out at the Studio Cassio in Rome, formerly affiliated with the famed Vatican Mosaic Studio through its director Lorenzo Cassio, he later worked as a conservator for the Opificio delle Pitre Dure di Firenze, a fine art conservation institute and museum, and finally made his way to his current role as the Special Superintendent for the Colosseum, the Museo Nazionale Romano, and the greater Rome Archelogical Area, where he directs conservation projects related to mosaics, stones and sectilia. With this extraordinary resumé, it is unsurprising that he is a board member of two significant mosaic conservation organizations, L’Associazione Italiana per lo Studio e la Conservazione del Mosaico (AISCOM), of which he was also a founding partner, and the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics (ICCM). He also teaches at the Central Restoration Institute in Rome.
His impressive professional background has made him one of the most authoritative voices on antique mosaic methods, but parallel to this expertise there runs an experimental thread, anxious to develop the creative potential of this ancient medium. In particular, Alessandro has explored the radical notion of mosaic as a performance, beginning in the late 80s with experiments of mosaic-making in time with music. He has carried this unique artistic marriage forward, saying “Music like mosaic is part of my life, it’s my life, the mosaic tiles that form the work following the desired trend, the texture ‘are like the musical notes that make up the melody following the harmony of the chords. The colors, the shapes of the tesserae are the acute sounds, the basses the sharp, the alterations, the nuances of the notes.” In 2002 he “performed” a mosaic live to music at Rialto Occupied in the Sant’Ambrogio in Rome.
He has also transformed his enthusiasm for contemporary practice into Pictor
Imaginarius, an association and international prize competition sited in Nazzano, Italy. Designed to bring professional and emerging mosaicists together from around the world, the competition rethinks the identity of mosaic by contrasting the medieval setting of Nazzano with the contemporary aesthetics and vernacular of an up-and-coming generation of mosaicists. Likewise, Pictor Imaginarius celebrates and promotes the collaborative and monumental quality of mosaics by sponsoring large-scale public mosaics to be created by a group.
The Chicago Mosaic School is honored to welcome Alessandro back in November as one of our visiting artists, and thrilled to announce that he will be expanding his curriculum with two new workshops. Ostia Antica focuses on ancient techniques and imagery inspired by the Roman port of Ostia on the Tyrrhenian coast, and Hands-On Collaborative Mural Making brings the spirit of Pictor Imaginarius to Chicago with a collaborative mural project.
To read more about these workshops and enroll, please follow the links above!
Written by Grace Walsh