Turismo Celle Ligure
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Palazzo Ferri: Raffaele Arecco and Nanni Servettaz

Palazzo Ferri: Raffaele Arecco and Nanni Servettaz

A trip around the historic centre must begin from the 18th-century Palazzo Ferri, now the Town Hall, which has important works by the painter Raphael Arecco, to whom the Municipal Council dedicated a retrospective exhibition in 2010. Born in Celle on 7th September 1916, this unassuming figure, far from the world of the art market, participated in major international events, including the IV Quadriennale di Arte Sacra in Rome in 1952. Starting from the forties, Arecco began moving further and further away from the figurative to produce visionary, disenchanted and prophetic work, opening towards the end of the fifties onto a new horizon: the spatial dimension.

From the seventies, when his isolation, a growing desire to seek, through painting, new dimensions in which man can move freely, he deepened the theme, now predominant in his work, of “stellar thought” where the human being manages to remove himself from the weight of corporeal physicality and open up to new dimensions.

The critic Luciano Caprile wrote in the exhibition catalogue: “The art world offers extraordinary surprises from time to time with artists who, by personal choice or critical myopia, have long been neglected despite the evident quality of their work. Raffaele Arecco is undoubtedly one of these ... Arecco was a loner who questioned, processed and performed in an inner world (mediated by the emotions aroused by his homeland) in absolute creative autonomy without sharing with anyone the reasons behind the manifestations of his growing purpose. Yet, with similar relational and even existential difficulties, he conveyed on paper and on canvas extraordinary advances that later others would perceive and develop successfully.”

The Council Chamber in the Town Hall houses the carved slate portrait of Leon Gambetta by Nanni Servettaz, creator of the bust of a woman in the tourist information office. Born in Savona in 1892 to a French father, Servettaz moved to Celle at the beginning of World War II. He had completed his artistic training in Turin and Milan, where he was a pupil of Fantoni, Cesare Ravasco and Adolfo Wildt.

He exhibited in the Quadrenniali in Rome and at the Venice Biennale; he won a Gold Medal at the Paris Exposition of 1938, and in 1949 he was invited to take part in the great exhibition of sculpture in Edinburgh and London.

His works can be seen in private collections, in many cemeteries and public squares, town halls, museums and public buildings in Italy and abroad. Although he preferred stone, throughout his life Nanni Servettaz worked in ceramics, sharing the furnaces of Albisola with the protagonists of modernity, Martini, Mazzotti, Berzoini, De Salvo and Rambaldi. Servettaz lived in the intimate poetic circle of Sbarbaro and of Angelo Barile, who said of him: “I have heard from this reclusive artist certain knowledge so definite and concise that it might have been written on tablets of stone. (…) He loved stone almost exclusively, he loved it and used it with a need for the simplicity, calm and constructive rigour from this material which, much more than any other, teaches and almost encourages the artist. (…)

Devoid of any sensuality, things carved by Servettaz seek to create and sometimes reach that world of contemplation where our motions and feelings pass into light.” In addition to all the above, there are also in Celle a Dego stone Pietà and a bronze Pietà in the two municipal cemeteries, a bronze bust depicting Silvio Volta, in the square in front of the railway station and a bronze lunette in the Piazza del Popolo, depicting St. Michael slaying the devil.