My name is Enzo Aiello, I have been specialized in the art of mosaic for almost twenty years I have started my career in 1987 as an apprentice in the Vatican Studio of Mosaic in the Vatican City in Rome.
This studio was established and first directed by the mosaic artist Pietro
Paolo Cristofari in 1727, after the popes Gregory XIII, 1572-1585 and
Urbano VIII, 1623-1644 decided to reproduce all the oil paintings in the
interior of the Basilica of St. Peter, from Caravaggio, Raffaello,
Guercino, Domenichino, Poussin, Reni and many others famous painters from
XV to the XVII century. In fact these paintings were being damaged by
humidity and they were replaced with exact, detailed copies in mosaic. The
most important painting replaced was Raffaello Sanzio's "Christ
Transfiguration." The Vatican Mosaic Studio is a part of the Reverenda
Fabbrica di San Pietro that is today still in charge of conservation,
care, and maintenance of St. Peter's Basilica. Michelangelo Buonarroti
(1475-1564) was the first architect of Fabbrica di San Pietro, appointed
on the 1st January 1547.
I had the good fortune to work in an environment surrounded by
masterpieces of the highest level of artistry and to be one of the few to
study directly under masters who in turn learned from masters forming a
chain back to mosaic artists of Pietro Paolo Cristofari's time.
In 1991 I moved to Ravenna to pursue further studies of the direct method,
the technique used in Byzantine mosaics. Visiting the extraordinary
mosaics from Mausoleo by Galla Placidia (V century), Basilica of St.
Apollinare in Classe (VI century), Basilica di St. Apollinare Nuovo (VI
century), and Basilica of San Vitale (VI century) inspired me and
broadened my education as an artist.
In 1993 I returned to Rome where I currently work and live today.
After nineteen years work, passing on to the cultural heritage that I
learned in the Vatican and in Ravenna I decided to teach the antique
techniques that my masters have taught to me.
I want this tradition to keep on living. I want to hand on to others this
ancient art and for this reason I have founded the "Mosaic Master of
Enzo Aiello is an artist of mosaic. He was born in Vibo Valentia, Italy,
in 1963. He currently lives and works in both Rome and New York. He
creates original works and is also highly-skilled at restoring antique
ACCADEMIA DELLE BELLE ARTI, Roma, Italy.
He attends the Accademia to study painting.
Work/study. VATICAN STUDIO of MOSAIC, Vatican City, Italy.
MICROMOSAIC IN SMALTI FILATI
He learns the technique of Micromosaic in Smalti Filati, a prestigious
antique technique that developed in Rome between the XVI and XVII
centuries. In the 1700s it was used by the Reverenda Fabbrica di San
Pietro of the Vatican to replace all the oil paintings that were being
damaged by humidity in the Basilica of St. Peter with exact, detailed
copies in mosaic that we can still admire today. The material used in
smalti filati is glass. The mosaic artist melts different pieces of
colored glass in a pot under a flame and amalgamates it with two pricks.
Once the glass melts, the artist continues to work it under a flame with
flat-nose pliers and stretches it into rods 15 to 20 inches long to a
desired thickness of sometimes less than one millimeter. After they dry,
he cuts these rods to a desired length and can then insert these tesserae
in the glazing putty. With this technique, the artist can make not only
large-scale mosaics but also miniature mosaics that may depict very
detailed scenes (of monuments or roman views) for jewelry and precious
objects. This technique is known by only 30 artists in the world today.
Work/study. SCUOLA MOSAICISTI DEL FRIULI, Spilimbergo, Italy.
He learns a technique in which the artist glues the tesserae face down
with a water-soluble glue on sections of paper that he prepares in advance
by cutting up an actual-size drawing of the mosaic's composition. When the
glue has dried, the sections can be turned up and installed in the site
they were planned for. This technique makes it possible for the artist to
create very big mosaics for floors, walls, chapels, domes, and swimming
pools. Usually the stones do not exceed 1 or 1.5 cm (1/2 in) thick.
Work/study. ALBE STEINER Studio, Ravenna, Italy.
He learns the Byzantine technique, in which the mosaic artist, after
having spread the lime cement, sets the glass stones (tesserae) directly
in the lime cement. He embeds them at slight angles in order to reflect
the light. The Byzantine mosaic method developed from the IV century A.D.
to XV century A.D. and used tesserae of glass mosaic. The backgrounds in
their mosaics were often gold glass tesserae.
DIRECT METHOD ON TEMPORARY PUTTY
He also learns the direct method using provisional putty, in which the
artist sketches the drawing on the clay or the lime previously spread and
then he inserts the tesserae in the clay. When the mosaic is completed, he
glues a cheesecloth or a gauze (tarlatana) over it. After the cheesecloth
dries, the artist removes the clay from the back of the mosaic while it is
still attached to the tarlatana. Finally, he installs the mosaic in the
site it was planned for. This method is used particularly in portraits, so
that the artist can easily adjust the tesserae before fixing them permanently.
He works on two large mosaic projects with other Albe Steiner students.
One is a wall mosaic 1000 x 800 cm (800 sq ft) at the entrance of LUNA
PARK-MIRABILANDIA, Ravenna, Italy and portrays the scene "The Celestial
Jerusalem" from the Basilica of San Vitale. The other is a fountain mosaic
about 30 sq m (300 sq ft) in piazza Dante, Ravenna, Italy.
He moves back to Rome and exhibits his mosaics in group exhibition at
ATHENA ARTE GALLERY, Rome.
He collaborates with Rinaldo Piras on a project of making all the floor
mosaics for the famous Italian fashion house REPLAY to be installed in
their stores in Rome, Hong Kong, and New York. Using polychrome marble in
the roman mosaic technique, he creates motifs of ornaments, Greek frets,
and other emblems to create more than 50 sq m (500 sq ft) of floor
SAVELLI GALLERY in Rome begins to represent him for 4 years.
Collaborating again with Rinaldo Piras, he does a wall mosaic of
approximately 12 sq m (120 sq ft) for CAPITANERIA DI PORTO DI ROMA,
Fiumicino (RM), Italy.
He exhibits a still life in a group exhibition at the ATHENA ARTE GALLERY,
Using the roman mosaic technique, he creates a 12 sq m floor mosaic for
the MAXY-GYM in Rome.
He shows in the group exhibition at ATHENA ARTE GALLERY, Rome.
Using the Byzantine mosaic technique, he creates a 15 sq m (150 sq ft)
ceiling mosaic depicting a starry night sky for the FULVIMARI CHAPEL in
Capitignano (AQ), Italy.
He works with Rinaldo Piras and artists Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel on
the prototype of a mosaic that depicts an eye for the project OCULUS. It
measures 21 x 33 cm (8-1/4 x 13 in). 301 of these eyes are subsequently
installed in the Chambers Street stop of the New York MTA subway.
He visits POMPEI, Italy and his study of its mosaics and frescoes strongly
influence his work.
He makes his first trip to NEW YORK CITY on a commission of creating
custom mosaics in a 5-story, 7,000 sq ft townhouse in the Upper East Side.
For this, he makes two large mosaics using the roman mosaic technique. The
first is a wall mosaic measuring 50 x 200 cm (19-1/2 x 78-3/4 in) that
portrays Venus standing in a shell on a lake, at her left is the Vesta
Temple and at her right the Canopo in Villa Adriana. It decorates the wall
adjacent to a large 8-person jacuzzi reminiscent of the famous thermal
baths frescoes in Pompei. The second is a floor mosaic measuring 4 sq m
(40 sq ft) for one of the bathrooms. It depicts floral ornaments and
contains a central scene of dolphins jumping out of water.
He does restoration of geometric floor mosaics using the roman technique
in VILLA ADRIANA, TIVOLI, Italy and also restores antique floor mosaics
for LEKYTHOS in Rome.
FORTUNA FINE ARTS GALLERY commissions and brings him in New York to
restore six very fragile roman mosaic panels of the III century A.D whose
tesserae are 7mm thick. They come from Syria and are considered the most
important mosaic archeological discovery in the last 50 years. Measuring
approximately 20 sq m (200 sq ft) of roman mosaic. He moves to New York
for the restoration which is long and particularly laborious.
He travels frequently between Rome and New York. From his studio in via
Pesaro, Rome, he continues working on commissions and making pictures in
mosaic for his customers all over the world.
He makes a 2 sq m (20 sq ft) wall mosaic of the city emblem of Vibo
Valentia for the entrance of VILLA GAGLIARDI, an important, recently
restored 17th century villa.
FORTUNA FINE ARTS calls on him back to New York to restore another six
antique roman mosaic panels that depict: 1. a saint, 1 x 2 m (45 x 94 in),
IV century A.D.; 2. a saint, 90 x 190 cm (35 x 75 in), IV century A.D.; 3.
a peacock, 90 x 180 cm (35 x 71 in), III century A.D.; 4. a fallow deer,
75 x 68 cm (30 x 27 in), III century A.D.; 5. a geometric floor mosaic, 70
x 90 cm (28 x 35 in), III century A.D.; and 6. a small fragment, III
century A.D. The restoration process consisted first of breaking and
removing 8 cm (3-1/2 in) of reinforced concrete that was too heavy and
backed the mosaics from an earlier restoration. After liberating the
mosaics from the weight of the concrete, he remounted them on a lighter
A private collector commissions him to restore a precious portrait done in
micromosaic of polychrome marble tesserae not more than 2mm thick of an
antique roman woman. The mosaic measures 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 in) and comes
from southern Italy.
He participates in New York's City Hall open competition to set"GETSEMANI", a three-dimensional mosaic (200 x 500 cm) that depicts a
bleeding rose breaking out from a wall in the World Trade Center Area. His
prototype is exhibited for a year at the Italian paninoteca VIA QUADRONNO
between 73rd and Madison Avenue in New Yorkís Upper East Side. The New
Yorkers call it "THE BLEEDING ROSE."
The artist Luca Buvoli commissions him to do a tri-color mosaic measuring
300 x 400 cm (10 x 13 ft) and using polychrome marble and glass paste
tesserae mounted on honeycomb aluminium for the exhibit "WHERE IS THE
VICTORY?" at the AUTORI CAMBI GALLERY directed by Matteo Boetti in Rome.
The paninoteca VIA QUADRONNO commissions him to do a big mosaic for its
new place in Tokyo and another large mosaic for its place in New York.
Using the Byzantine mosaic method of polychrome marble and glass paste, he
makes a floor mosaic that portrays a sun for the private chapel of a
entrepreneur in Munich, Germany.
He teaches painting techniques at ACCADEMIA BELLE ARTI -Ravenna (Italy)
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