Nature, history, and myth in Mimmo Paladino’s “Hortus Conclusus”
In 1992, noted Transavantgarde artist Mimmo Paladino created “Hortus Conclusus”, a permanent installation for the garden of the former Convent of San Domenico in Benevento, Campania.
The monastery’s garden is now dotted with his works, “designed to be an harmonic group, and tell the story of the city recalling the Samnite, Roman and Langobard eras. They mingle with what is left of columns, capitals, and broken frontons, generating a successful stylistic contrast. The ‘Bronze Horse’ dominates the ‘Hortus’ from the wall; the ‘Disk’ at the center of the space looks like a shield fallen from the sky, and has water spurting out of it; the ‘Shell’, ‘Bell’, ‘Horse Head’, ‘Ox Skull’, and ‘Helmets’: every symbol is a modern interpretation of Benevento’s tradition” (Vv. Aa., “I luoghi del contemporaneo”, Gangemi, Rome 2012).
“The overall meaning of this work,” according to art experts, “is that of a mysterious garden built by mythical cultures […] that tell us about their relationship with life, time, and nature, based on magical thinking instead of rationality.”
Painters and sculptors from the Transavantgarde – an Italian artistic movement that started in the 1980s – often reclaim “art’s classical themes, and especially nature […] Paladino, lost in a superstructure that is archaic and fairytale-like at the same time,” offers us his “gaze, which finds in void and infinity the pleasure of its insufficiency, which can express catharsis only in front of the world’s magnificent disproportions” (translated from J.M Azcona, M. Re, D. de Azpiazu, “Sociedad del bienestar, vanguardias artísticas, terrorismo y contracultura”, Dykinson, Madrid 2011).
Enter this beautiful walled garden and see for yourself.