Giuliano Giuliani, I simply appeared where he was born artistically: the old quarry of his father up in Colle San Marco, the first ever born in 1952 in a place that knows partisan combats, solitary hermitages and bright Ascoli travertine. I reached it in the sun-drenched suntan, like a laborer, and I reached him in his open-air laboratory, where he shapes, digs, models with tireless chisels in the good months, and where he plans to build a museum and a workshop for young sculptors.
The context is a sedimentation of rocks that starts from Colle Giammatura and goes up to Castel Trosino, of the same natural spring, superior to Tivoli, to Acquasanta, in terms of size and quality. "It's a very compact travertine," he says proudly, "not very porous, hard to work with, but when it's polished it's a mirror." He shows me a sculpture, one of the last works, which risks breaking because of its fragility. It looks like a praying mantis, it is not known how it manages to keep itself on its feet. Giuliano tells me that he finds this fact very poetic. Sometimes he even lets them break the sculptures. "There must be an external event, not enough," he explains. "This one has already shattered once because of the wind that knocked it down. I recomposed it, gluing it. But I do not like it, I think I cut it in half. When it breaks then it rises again. It takes on a new shape ". It is as if after these miracles the opposite finds itself and new nature, I suggest. Is the break at the end of a long and tiring job not frustrating? "The most interesting thing is, perhaps, uselessness" he says smiling. The living stone, on the other hand, is the secular presence of mysticism.
White, light, the absolute, something very earthly and eternal that is always renewed. The rock, the mountain, the summit. I start to think while talking. He always starts from a whole block and then slowly empties him with the same physical work of his father's workmen who he observed as kidnapped when he was stealing his trade. He also shows me an altar he made for a church in Jesi, entirely emptied by hand with cuts of mola and mallet, scratches, old tools of the past. There is an ancient obsession that moves it. I ask him why he is attracted to these skeletal, fragile forms, where matter becomes almost ethereal, spiritual, and he speaks to me of the liberation of the mass. "In the end it remains like an external" amused skin ". And it's true. To touch it the altar, to clap it with your hands, emits a mysterious internal sound. He also tells me another thing, namely that fragility and lightness are now a tendency of some sculptors of now. "Fragility is more current" he says. "Sculpture must be itself, it must be alive, something new must be done"
In the house near the quarry, where two big white dogs, as tame as a few, keep me company, shows me a sort of private museum. There is a crib built for the cave churches of Matera, a sculpture that recalls the elliptical shapes of Escher and many other works that are part of the past. It also makes me see a sculpture so thin that it has recently returned from an exhibition held in Rome all shattered. A very polished slab of a shining white that asks to be touched as the surface attracts the senses in the tactile concreteness of the hand. While he shows me the works, he explains that the presence of the sacred in his research is fundamental, "the same stone contains the sacredness". It is something that starts from a spiritual search of her that has been born since childhood.
"They are the fundamental answers of life: either art or faith. At first I tried with faith. I have asked myself several times whether it is better to deal more with the sacred than with art, since art is lacking in resurrection ". The best thing is the walk we do in the tangles of trees. He forward, perfectly at ease in his natural world of rock and forest, in search of places where he was stray as a boy. Here are the ones he calls "trovanti", that is stones that have come off the wall in free fall. All Ascoli Piceno has been built with this travertine and always here there are several places once inhabited by hermits. One was from a noble Ascolius, a follower of St. Francis of Assisi, Corrado Miliani, a scholar who also later taught at the Sorbonne in Paris. We go down along a winding path and we find ourselves in a thicket, we advance in a path that Giuliani knows perfectly until we reach the top in a small cave carved by this monk in the living stone, near a mountain called Dito del Diavolo, where it seems that pagan rites took place in ancient times.
"Here I savored the Middle Ages", he says that he came here and felt in the heart of the rock. "The rock contains a god, contains a spirit. You're really alone with yourself. There is absolute silence and detachment from the outside. The invisible is not only in space, in light, but also in the mass ". Around there are several hermitages. We arrive on foot in that of San Marco where people once came in a procession. It is a magical place carved at the foot of the mountain and stuck in the rock, with a view overlooking Ascoli and the Ascension mountain. On my way back, I stop at his house to eat. There are ravioli made by the old mother, and of course stuffed olives. All washed down with the excellent prosecco gift of a friend sculptor from the Veneto region. Before I leave, he shows me a work that is working for the tomb of a climber friend who died. Below there is a rock mass worked with a chisel and at the top stands a cross towards the sky. He knew him, he had moved to Genoa. "There is always a climb for each of us to reach a goal and that goal instead is a cross," says Giuliano Giuliani, disconsolately, thinking of another friend who died in the rope. One of the crosses of a previous sculpture has broken, gives it to me and now it's mine, I can really take it home. It will always serve to remind me to have one. However, looking at the works on display, I would like to perceive that behind every appearance of the paintings hanging on the walls are the hands, eyes, obsessions and dreams of a person like us, and that without this recognition would certainly lose part of the original value and their humanity that miraculously meets us.