There is a photograph hanging on the wall of Orazio’s studio that he took over 20 years
ago on his family’s land in Italy. It is not a view of the sloping hills or the olive trees or
the mountains in the distance; the camera is pointed straight down at the earth beneath
his feet, capturing the dirt: dry, cracked and uneven, strewn with sticks, bits of straw and
small stones. This land, his earth, has always been central to Orazio’s work.
His earlier series, Terra, explored this geography in maps, both imaginary and personal,
using handmade lime paint, pigments, oil pastel and graphite. For his new work, Terra
Bruciata, Orazio takes on the role of alchemist.
Alchemy or Al-kemi derived from the Arabic/Egyptian meaning “divine chemistry” or
possibly “black earth”. Simply, it was the process of transforming base metals into
gold. But it was so much more than that. It was an early form of the investigation of
nature and and ancient path of purification and transformation. It was a seemingly
magical process of a combination of materials, a burning off process and a
transmutation or metamorphosis.
For this new work, Orazio collected buckets of dirt from the street being excavated
outside his Brooklyn studio. He combined the dirt with crushed charcoal, bits of straw
and ash, then took this mixture and pressed it onto 500 pound watercolor paper, making
a thick durable surface. This is the prima materia to which he then adds handmade lime
paint, earth pigments and shellac. To this, he takes a blowtorch; the fire setting off an
alchemical/chemical reaction, creating a deeply encrusted surface, rich with color and
rare patinas.
By combining and experimenting with raw, organic natural materials and utilizing the
four elements: earth, air, water and fire, Orazio has succeeded in creating objects of
rare beauty, evocative of place, emotion and breathtaking experience.
Linda Marchisotto

Court Tree Collective
371 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231