The breath of the roots

Antonio and Carmine Leuci

2nd – 14th December 2023
opening Saturday 2nd December 2023, h 6 pm

…you wouldn’t believe it never except at night the trees they walk or become dreams.
Think that in a tree there is a violin of love.
Think that a tree sings and laughs.
Think that a tree stands into a crevasse and then becomes life. I already told you: poets cannot be redeemed,
they should be let fly among the trees like nightingales ready to die.

 (You don’t know, from The soul in love, by Alda Merini)


Knotty trunk, twisted branches, sharp but gentle leaves, you are the most human of trees, Mr. olive tree. In addition to the more earthly aspects, you embody a sublime spirituality and with your richness and complexity you reflect the contrasts present in our human life. For everyone you are the image of peace, but with man you have not only shared moments of joy and abundance of harvests, you have also shared times of war, frosts and droughts. 
A long story. And today the connection between man and nature is celebrated together by those who have been able to underline your beauty, showing the history of the plants that like you populate the Salento area in Puglia, a history that is also of extraordinary resilience.
The two brothers Antonio and Carmine Leuci discovered parts of abandoned olive wood among the fields, celebrating their beauty as masterpieces of nature and highlighting their cultural and symbolic importance. 
With them the olive tree is the protagonist of a series of sculptures generated as objettrouvé, as happened in the Dadaist and Surrealist movement when “found objects” became works of art if inserted in another context. Aided by the great sculptor “time”, who carries out his work, the Leuci brothers create real works following his dictates and highlighting or elaborating the natural grain of the wood from the roots to the trunk. 
Touching the olive tree they perceive the strength of life contained within it, managing to find, in the contradiction between the tender fruit and the very hard stone, a powerful parallel with the complexity of human life, sweetness and hardness, life and death coexist. «Trees certainly have a heart» wrote Henry David Thoreau. And it is in the presence of these sculptures that we understand how right the great American ecologist was. The generosity in offering the gold that is olive oil, which has contributed to the health and strength of generations, highlights the vital role in sustainability and human well-being. But Antonio and Carmine Leuci do not pay homage to him only as a source of nourishment, they actually invite us to touch a true ‘artist’ of existence, highlighting his anthropomorphic character. Their sculptures are born from the collaboration between nature and human art. “We hear the voice of the trees” they say: and they are declarations of love that touch the soul. Saving roots and tree trunks for the Leuci brothers is giving a sense of eternity to what could be burned, suggesting that what is essential continues to exist in some form. The root is a powerful and poetic image, it symbolizes ability to penetrate the surface and come into contact with the true essence of the earth. 
These sculptures retain the core of this thought, as a hymn to perseverance, generosity and strength intrinsic to the cyclical nature of life. A message of hope and eternity that we find in addition to the olive tree also in the personification of the laurel as majestic and wise. All the titles given are full of symbolism: “The rebirth“, “Mediterranean Wave“, “The awakening“, “Miraggio Salentino” and “The Columns of Life“.
These last “Columns” seem to tell a story primordial, linked to the earth itself and the events that have it shaped over time, the columns are seen as protagonists of a ballet which culminates in rising from the earth towards the Salento sky. Let us then get lost among the contortions and the plots, let’s immerse ourselves in the sinuosities of wood, in this exhibition in which we are called to touch, listen to voices, and smell scents some trees. The work of Antonio and Carmine Leuci, celebrating the connection between man and nature digs into memory to be able to tell about these roots their unique stories.

Curated by Paola Facchina