The different shapes of leccese stone Sculptures by the versatile artist, Rocco Schifano
“Often when I’m talking about my sculptures I find myself talking about my paintings; painting is part of my work as a sculptor. It is colour and light and the stone is its vibration. In stone, I am searching for the vibration of light, this is something which colour gives by itself.” This is what the artist Rocco Schifano, who has used Leccese stone as the material for his sculptures, loves saying (his origins are in Sicily and Salento but he has lived in Ceglie Messapica, in the heart of the Itria valley, for a long time now). There are a lot of painters in his family, including his grandfather and his mother. Thus attending a high school specialising in Art and then Art College was just the normal way to grow up. While he was at Art College Schifano began his research: studying colour and its intrinsic forms of expression. Then in 1994 came the spark. That was the year that his artwork took a new direction. The first time he held a chisel in his hand he fell in love with Leccese stone. It is a soft and malleable stone, porous and varying in colour from white to pale yellow, it is also called “polite”, because thanks to its softness it allows you to stretch your imagination to its limits. The sculptor
mastered the use of the chisel (a tool which has made Salento baroque stonework world famous) and began to create
unique objects - completely hand made - using just a few instruments, like files and chisels, which were used to shape and give life to rare and original pieces. Wall lights, lamps, tables, fireplaces, and also abstract works, which stood
out and were recognisable in their style and design. Stonework formed through artistic intuition, made with patient and painstaking craftsmanship. “For me”, the artist says, “it was a discovery, energy which I needed to develop new ideas. The material which for years had only been used for decorative work, became the means and the tool to express my deepest self. And so that art could flow into everyday life I created “objects” that were furnishings, interior décor, a range of sculptures to be put on display.” Stone figures, made carefully combining modern and traditional elements, which elegantly and discreetly furnish any type of room lending it style. Stone figures, timeless, able to impart emotion.
Schifano’s stylistic form can be read in the formal and material coherence, in the search for simple yet strong details, in the symmetry of the lines. Recently, this versatile artist (he also restores walls and artefacts in old farmhouses, masserias and trulli) has opened an exhibition centre in the centre of the town where he lives.
In Corso Garibaldi, the main street where the townsfolk parade up and down at the weekend, a passerby’s gaze is often drawn by the showroom window where you can see the yellowish glow of artfully crafted Leccese stone.WHERE AND HOW
Rocco Schifano’s Showroom
Corso G. Garibaldi, 57/59
Ceglie Messapica (Br)