Friday, February 17, 2012

Looking for Bentivegna, finding Friscia: 14 Febbraio 2012

Fillipo Bentivegna and Gianfranco Friscia
By Joey

So today we went out in search of the carved heads of Filippo Bentivegna, again. Strange story:

"A most novel and interesting tourist attraction around Sciacca is the Castello Incantato (Enchanted Castle), an eccentric garden filled with naive artworks (including hundreds of carved heads). The creator of this spectacle was Filippo Bentivegna (1888-1967), also known as 'Filippo of the Heads'. A local man, he emigrated to America in the early twentieth century, and endured various difficulties and mishaps, including being beaten up by a love rival. Returning embittered to Sicily, he created a strange world of his own in this garden outside Sciacca, sculpting strange heads and figures thought to represent in some way his 'enemies'. Bentivegna liked to be known as 'His Excellency.' The garden is open to the public (there's an entrance charge) and visitors can explore the artist's strange solitary world, from his sculptural heads to paintings within his home."

Well, it was closed but we did wander around the edges and found a place where we could peek in. True enough. Carved heads everywhere. We will try again to catch it open.

We went a different way on our walk back and happened by a large building with some high windows and we could just make out some carts with bisque ware on them. Ahhhh. This could be a pottery. We walked around the building and rang the bell and a very nice apronned gentleman let us in. His name is Gianfranco Friscia. He had no English but I was able to express that I was a potter too and he gave us the grand tour of his operation... A pretty big one at that. Mostly slipcast sculptural pieces of sea creatures that he designs and glazes quite detailed with a spray gun (and a few workers helping him). He said he sells all over Italy. It was getting late and we were still a long way from town so he insisted on calling his wife to come pick us up and show us the shop that he had in town.

Beautiful work! And wonderful people!

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