Gennaro Regina | Courtesy of Hotel Mediterraneo Sorrento
Speaking about Art with Gennaro Regina
Eduardo De Filippo said that Naples is “an ancient theatre” that is always open, where people with no experience go into the street and perform. That’s how Naples is, spontaneous both in words and gestures. Art is essential to this city and everyone, in their own way, expresses themselves, whether it be through photography, craftsmanship, cooking, music, acting or art in the stricter sense of the word.
Just a few steps away from the seafront promenade of Naples, we meet Gennaro Regina, contemporary artist of international importance, who welcomes us to his art gallery Voyage Pittoresque Factory on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which separates the Vomero neighbourhood from the older part of the city centre.
Gennaro Regina is the son of editors and rare book dealers, he grew up surrounded by books. Born in Naples on 27 April 1965, after high school, he went on to study Economy and Commerce but, instead, found his genius liberated on the canvases of his art. Today, he travels the world, from Vatican City to the United States. His works were chosen to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Italy’s adherence to the United Nations and for the event Vitignoitalia with a performance at the Castel dell’Ovo.
“My grandfather Gabriele Regina printed, in Naples, the first edition of The Betrothed (the celebrated novel of Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni). I always studied and worked. But when my friend saw one of my works in the studio I had on Via Gianturco and asked me for one for his house, my life totally changed - now I live by art alone.”
How did you start collaborating with the Hotel Mediterraneo of Sorrento?
“The restaurant of the Hotel Mediterraneo is named Vesuvio because, from its dining room, there is a splendid view of the volcano overlooking the Gulf of Naples. The owners of the hotel and the designer Manuela Mannino wanted to bring Vesuvius into the restaurant as well, using materials created with lava and the depiction of the volcano itself. They contacted me about a few of my works that depict it. From there, a wonderful collaboration was born. From Sorrento, Vesuvius has a different profile than it does from Naples - it’s exactly how I depict it in my works. A lot of times, I imagine Vesuvius like a giant lighthouse that illuminates the entire Mediterranean.”
The Vesuvius view from the terrace of the Vesuvio Restaurant | Courtesy of Hotel Mediterraneo Sorrento
In the gallery Voyage Pittoresque Factory, besides your works, there are those of other artists. How do you choose the “collaborations” which are associated with your artistic sensibilities?
“It’s important to create a certain feeling to improve your own work, also in terms of the public. Confronting myself with colleagues is synonymous with growth for me, because there’s always something to learn and share.”
Where do you find inspiration?
“In Naples, it’s the only place that makes me feel regenerated. I need to take my usual walks through the historic centre, among the people, the sounds, the songs and noises, or near the sea. Recently, I was in Sanremo and the sea didn’t have the same intensity that I find when I walk along the promenade of Mergellina. Here, there’s an energy that you can’t find elsewhere.”
What’s your relationship with Naples and what are the places that you care for particularly?
“Naples has two faces - an enormous window on the sea that cleanses your soul when you’re overwhelmed and a historic centre that’s a source of inspiration. It’s a city that transmits energy everywhere, I couldn’t live anywhere else. In fact, in my works, when I feel troubled, I use strong colours, otherwise, I prefer cold colours.”
Gennaro Regina, Entre Amis, Vesuvio | Courtesy of the Artist and Hotel Mediterraneo Sorrento
And the Sorrentine Coast?
“When I was little, for many years I vacationed in Sant’Agnello, and this was another motive that influenced me in deciding to collaborate with the Hotel Mediterraneo”.
Any advice for young people interested in a career as an artist?
“My first piece of advice is to not sell out to the galleries, but find a way to make it on your own. You have to study, but it’s important to maintain a spontaneous approach to be able to move people, because art should transmit powerful and positive emotions. The artist has to create a direct line to their public, they should be free, without brakes. They should be themselves.”
“For the international congress, Cities on Volcanoes 2018, which will be held at the Mostra d’Oltremare in Naples, I’m going to participate with my exhibition that will then tour the world - a series of geographical maps that speak about volcanoes and their legends. During the last edition of the event, which was held in Chile, they broadcast Suriezione, the short documentary that I shot on the cone of the crater of Vesuvius. A live performance, face to face, with my principal source of inspiration, and, thanks to that experience, I won the Los Angeles Movie Awards at the Complex Theatre in Hollywood”.
Gennaro Regina, Entre Amis, Vesuvio 11 | Courtesy of the Artist and Hotel Mediterraneo Sorrento