A few weeks ago I took a daytrip to Napoli for sfogliatelle-but also to see the Blub exhibit at MANN (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli). If you do not know about the street artist from Firenze, make sure to read my Blub post L’Arte sa Nuotare. Blub (Bloob) takes famous works of art and gives them a new look, immersing them underwater, complete with blue background, snorkel masks and bollicine-bubbles. Prints are organically glued to the metallic doors of gas and electrical panels, which provide ready-made frames.
To prepare for the exhibit, Napoli’s Centro Storico was ‘Blubified’ with 40 works plastered on sportelli-the doors of gas and electrical panels. A few are specific to Napoli, for example Totò and Re Carlo III Borbone (King Charles III).
In the exhibit, which only includes 5 new works, the project ‘L’Arte sa Nuotare’ (Art knows how to swim) is extended to Pompeii. 4 paintings on metal are inspired by affreschi (frescoes) from the ruins of Pompeii. There is also the portrait of Carlo III and some sculptures have been adorned with masks and fins, as well as the tomb in the photo below.
The nymph is a detail from the fresco ‘Il Volo di Dedalo e la caduta di Icaro’(the flight of Dedalus and the fall of Icarus) from Villa Imperiale, Pompeii. It is an acrylic painting on a metal door and I love how the rust has been incorporated.
Terentius Neo e la moglie (Terentius Neo and his wife) is a fresco from 55-79 AD found in 1868 in the house of baker Terentius Neo, which was also the bakery. The middle class couple is well-dressed, and he holds a scroll with seal, his wife a stylus and wax tablet to demonstrate that they are literate and cultured. His wife is portrayed as an equal, in fact she seems to be standing in front of her husband.
Donna con tavolette cerate e stilo (Woman with wax tablets and pen) is a tondo, a round painting found in 1760 in the Insula Occidentalis house in Pompeii. It depicts a wealthy woman with gold earrings and a gold hair net. She is holding a stylus and 4 wax tablets, to demonstrate learning and culture. This fresco is known as Sappho, although it is not a portrait of the poetess, in fact the stylus and wax tablets were more likely used for accounting than poetry. Blub again incorporates the rust on the metal door to add ‘age’ to the work.
My favourite Blub here is Maschera Teatrale di Donna (Woman’s theater mask) inspired by a fresco in Casa del braciale d’oro (House of the golden bracelet) in Pompeii. The work is under glass, so my photo has glare issues. The tag says that this Blub work is an acrylic on metal door and is in a private collection in Hingham, Massachusetts, so I think that means Blub made a sale!
‘….water is my element. Life is born from water, it is the hidden side of matter. When you are immersed, time stops and becomes weightless, while thoughts flow freely in a suspended dimension…for this I propose personalities that have transmitted an example of greatness that survives still today, as if underwater, without time.’ Blub
Seeing all the affreschi from Pompeii in MANN really inspired me to get out my bucket of plaster and pigments. Fresco painting is not a very ‘modern’ art form, but I have dabbled in it a bit and really love it. Below is my detail of La Cappella Sistina. My next fresco painting might be one of Giotto’s angels. I’ll be looking for rusty metal doors to paint on! Let me know if you have any.
Blub hunting in the Centro Storico was not very productive. We found a peek-a boo Blub….a Renaissance woman mostly covered by the propped open door of a store! Giuseppe Verdi looks very distinguished among the graffiti. I was disappointed to not find a Totò, but did find a Banksy and lots of other interesting street art-which I will leave for another post!
The exhibit in MANN ends in a few days. I hope you enjoyed this virtual Blub tour and that all of you can some day view real life ‘Blubi’! Ciao, Cristina
*Photo credit-Both photos of Terentius Neo e la moglie and Blub’s Sappho taken by my cugino and Napoli travel partner Mark ‘Peperotti‘ Pepe