metamorph »Sasso Uomo«, charcoal & tempera on paper, 23,7 x 17,6 cm.  

» About a city, in which people were displaced from their cave dwellings due to inhumane conditions in the 1950s, people say that who has been there once wants to come back again and again. In fact, Matera is considered as an urban gem in Southern Italy's Basilicata, and its caves and buildings in the infamous Sassi are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the crowd pullers of the European Capital of Culture 2019.


Today's visitor experiences Matera as a gigantic labyrinth of alleys, squares, caves, and rupestrian churches, resembling a giant stonelike organism sculpted by those who have lived here for over 9,000 years. This continuity of human settlement at the same time constitutes its archaic magic. Since "the beginning of time" man lives in the middle of the stone - a close symbiosis with nature, which in view of the monumental, natural conditions is simply stunning and at the same time terrifyingly close.


With the project NASCITA DEI SASSI (»born of stone«) I embark on an artistic search for traces, with the aim to capture my impressions of this existential simplicity of life within my artworks: What I found there were cold stone houses abandoned and ruined churches, rutted ravines and forgotten paths that tell of the inhabitants who once lived there. Man was born into the rock, grew up with the natural conditions of the rocky environment and learned to deal with it. Man and stone, habitat and nature do not appear in Matera as separate spheres, but condition and shape each other.


For me, at the beginning of this cycle of emergence, change and decay, stands the moment of the »birth of stones«, the creative and artistic impetus out of which life in the Sassi began. My works try to approach this fundamental idea by means of drawing and painting, and thus try to show a perceived image of a place that even today impressively shows the origin of man and their his goals search for meaning. «


[Florian Köhler, June 2019]