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Salon Lecce 2015, the 20th meeting of International Decorative Painters will be held in Lecce from 21 to 24 May. This is where the best fresco artists, emulating the great art of the renaissance, meet the carnival artists, share experiences, challenges, achievements, and techniques.

What about Lecce, why is it so interesting for artists?

Since antiquity, there has been civilisation near Lecce. The original settlement was probably of Cretan origin, but, if not, definitely Greek. About 1,000 years after its founding, Roman emperor Hadrian shifted the centre of Lecce for reasons not explained. Nevertheless, he did add a stadium of 25,000 people capacity and it is used today for performances.

From a modern perspective, Greek and Roman antiquity are not as relevant as the impact of the baroque from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. Lecce and Baroque are virtually synonymous – but why? Interestingly, Lecce buildings are yellowish – the colour of the local limestone. This limestone is the major building material and export of the Lecce province.

What is so special about the use of this building material? All you have to do is stare wonderingly at the exotic baroque sculpture on most of the buildings of the city to understand. Carving such complex shapes, figures and structures, would require great effort and time, unless, of course there were something to make the job easier. And there is: the limestone, it is strong enough for building but very soft for easy carving and sculpting. So Lecce’s architects and artists have taken advantage of the local nature.

Yet, while the sculpturing is highly ornate, Lecce is not renowned for murals and frescos, so common further north and subject of Salon Lecce. Is the reason once again a quirk of nature related to the characteristics of the stone? Or is it simply that the highly ornate baroque architecture needs no further ornamentation, inside or out?

What will the decorative artists at the Salon Lecce learn of the challenges of the local stone, of how to deal with its special texture and porosity? Will they approach it with verve or will they politely decry the challenge allowing the naked stone of Lecce to continue to expose itself.

One such decorative painter who may accept the challenge to embellish Lecce stone is Paolo Bello the mural artist of Veneto whose expertise in a wide range of surface painting techniques have brought him renown among villa and palace owners of the Veneto region. Paolo has a passion for mural art and particularly for defining the beauty of a lady in this format. Meanwhile, he creates paintings on portable canvas to show his artistic skill in oil, tempura or other of several artistic media.

We look forward to the opportunity to admire and compare the works on show at the gathering of decorative painters in Salon Lecce and to interview Paolo at the meeting.

Gavin Tulloch

Scienziato e poeta. Ama la chimica, il vino, le donne e l’opera, ma non sappiamo in quale ordine


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