curators Davide Sarchioni and Massimo Tartaglione

April 21st – May 21st 2018
SMMAVE Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea

Santa Maria della Misericordia ai Vergini

Via Fuori Porta S. Gennaro 15 – Napoli

Opening Saturday April 21st aprile, 6 p.m.



SMMAVE Contemporary Art Center introduces Spital, a double project by Thomas Lange and Mutsuo Hirano for the upper and lower spaces of the Santa Maria della Misericordia ai Vergini Church, curators Davide Sarchioni and Massimo Tartaglione.

Since many years Thomas Lange (Berlin, 1957) and Mutsuo Hirano (Hyogo, 1952) work together on restore and mount projects of significant architectures like churches, schools, and private houses, through actions of aesthetic and emotional strong impact. They share a very personal idea of cultural and physical space, in which architectural, pictorial and plastic elements are tightly bond together.

Spital, a German word that means hospital, points out the intention of the two artists about a reflection on the history of this place, when during the XVIth century it was a complex devoted to the reception of pilgrims, poors and priests and it worked as hospital as well as Church. The hypogeum under the upper Church was used as burial place and called “terrasanta” that means holy ground.

Starting from this point Lange e Hirano made two separate installation as a part of a whole and complex visual and spiritual itinerary around the concepts of life, death, rebirth. It proceeds through sequences and stratified reading levels, adding continuous tensions and several references to history of art, mythology and recent news.

Thomas Lange goes over the spaces of “Misericordiella” Church with a big theatrical and highly evocative installation that emphasizes the late Baroque architecture, enhancing the sacral and vitalistic aspect. Painting overflows into the tridimensional space through metres of painted tissue, which whirling falls down along the sides of the nave and spreads the stream of colors and motifs freely taken from Christian iconography. They interlace each other among the sinuous folds until they become almost indecipherable. In the middle of the stage are placed 15 “hospital beds” with outward casualness. Elementary iron structure summarily covered with cotton sheets painted with portraits of friends and relatives as a reference to the illegal immigration problem and welcome. The sequence is closed by the image of a Christ face painted on a wide metal net that wraps up the main altar hiding and revealing it at the same time. A visual short circuit that suggests the idea of a magic and mystical dimension is triggered in this way.

In hypogea, Mutsuo Hirano made a fascinating intercultural vision dedicated to the theme of death and “welcome” in afterlife, setting numerous and various terracotta busts in the side niches, once used as a place to expose the dead bodies. They are unknown and archaic taste figures, that express mysterious symbols and represent demons/guardians. They are mold freely keeping both from the Western iconographic repertoire and Eastern signs and traditions, their anatomy suggests a slow process of transformation and decay of the flesh. The series of 50 white skulls at the bottom of the space marks the place of the “terrasanta” and resumes a significant popular tradition that pays homage to dead souls with the idea of rebirth connected with Resurrection. Hirano means to express the concept of rebirth also through an animist approach, so in the next room big terracotta parallelepipeds like tombstones driven in the ground, hide symbolic faces which skin goes by natural elements such as porous stones, trees bark and leaves.

Among life and death, between the “here” of human existence and the “afterlife” of spiritual essence Lange creates an “Heaven door”, the artist painted a romantic rejoining of Orpheus and Eurydice upon old doors of iron plates. Hirano answers with a triumphant vision of a golden prophet dressed with a magnificent and coloured wedding kimono.




a cura di Davide Sarchioni e Massimo Tartaglione


Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea

Santa Maria della Misericordia ai Vergini

Via Fuori Porta S. Gennaro 15 – Napoli

In collaborazione con

Associazione Casa Fornovecchino

La DI | Art


Giorni e Orari di apertura
giovedì e
venerdì ore 17.30 – 20.00

domenica ore 11 – 13

ingresso gratuito




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SMMAVE – Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea è un’associazione culturale con sede a Napoli, nella chiesa di Santa Maria della Misericordia ai Vergini, detta Misericordiella. Stiamo portando avanti la pulizia, il recupero e la valorizzazione di questo bene per farne un luogo di ricerca, didattica e produzione artistica. Collaborano con noi storici dell’arte, architetti, artisti, fotografi, restauratori, esperti di cinema e di teatro. Il presidente di SMMAVE è Christian Leperino, artista.

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Complesso della Misericordiella - via Fuori Porta San Gennaro 15 – 80137 Napoli

+39 366 3270911