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Guerino Galzerano, Mosaici di ciottoli (Mosaics of Stones)

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About the Artist/Site

The youngest of five children born to a modest family in Contrada dei Cerri, a small village near Castelnuovo Cilento in the district of Salerno, Guerino Galzerano lost his father when he was still a child. He had little education and may have only attended primary school, and he helped this family by working as a farmhand.

As a young man he had a number of traumatic experiences. Conscripted into the Italian army during World War II, he witnessed the horrors of the battlefield. After the war he was suspected of the murder of a fellow-townsman, because—the story goes—he did not weep at the funeral. He was convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment in a criminal asylum.

Galzerano married in 1956. He and his wife moved to Castelnuovo Cilento, but soon he left Italy to find work in Germany. In 1970 it was rumoured that his wife was having an affair, so he returned to Italy and shot and killed one of his wife’s closest female friends and also wounded the mother of the presumed lover. Galzerano once more was convicted and imprisoned in a criminal asylum.

While imprisoned and by then in his fifties, he felt a desire to become creative. He requested and received permission to decorate the prison’s garden with mosaics, a technique that he said he had learned in Germany.

After he was released from prison in 1977, he returned to his house in Castelnuovo Cilento, but as his wife had left for Germany, he lived there alone, with modest resources. So he resumed his creative activities, making them the focus of the rest of his life. First he decorated the house using small pebbles he found at the beaches of Cilento: he completely covered the exterior wall of the house with these stones, and he transformed its interior as well, abundantly decorating it with these small stones. He moved next to his garden, constructing a variety of towering structures, again decorating them with pebble mosaics. In 1982, he created his own decorated tombstone in the local cemetery. He inscribed the monument with somewhat quirky texts, such as, “Reminder: where I was you are, where I am you will be.” Finally, he began his last large-scale project: on a plot of land of some 5000 square meters owned by his wife in the Santa Caterina neighbourhood, he began building a castle-like structure. Without any preconceived plan, he constructed an enormous building, with high walls, arches, and towers.

Galzerano died in 2002. The castle in Santa Caterina has deteriorated so much that it is almost gone, and the other creations are in danger of decay.

~Cristina Calicelli/Henk van Es



Map and site information

Not Exact Address
Castelnuovo Cilento, Campania, Italy
Latitude/Longitude: 40.219241 / 15.177981

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