Celebrated Italian sculptor Jago, nicknamed the “modern-day Michelangelo”, has unveiled his new artwork based on the story of Narcissus.
From a 17th century former church in Naples, Italy, an eclectic sculptor has been intriguing the art world.
His name is Jago (born Jacopo Cardillo), a 36-year-old Italian artist, who has earned praise over the last decade for his modern twists on classical art, with pieces like “Look Down (2019),” “Pity (2021),” and “Habemus Hominem” (2009-2016).
Five years ago, he transformed the abandoned Sant’Aspreno ai Crociferi church in Rione Sanità into his studio and exhibition space and since May 2023 it has officially become the Jago Museum, drawing thousands of visitors.
Jago has unveiled his latest masterpiece here, “Narciso.”
The story of Narcissus
The sculpture is inspired by the Greek myth “Narcissus,” about a beautiful young man who kept rejecting all the people who fell in love with him, until one day he fell in love with himself after seeing his image reflected in water for the first time.
The marble sculpture features two figures and explores what Narcissus may have seen in the water.
“I don’t know is what he saw in that moment. We can speculate and imagine that he saw his reflection, but what we see as a reflected image of who we really are is still a projection,” says Jago.
“I can imagine that he saw the reflection of himself. But perhaps there is another world that is accessible only to him, which is protected and which is sacred,” he adds.
Classicism reframed: Jago’s artistic philosophy
Many of Jago’s sculptures are inspired by Classicism, but always reframed, such as “Aiace and Cassandra,” a piece based on the rape of the Trojan princess Cassandra after the Trojans were defeated by the Greeks, as told in Homer’s “Iliad”.
“If we think for example of the ‘Rape of the Sabine Women’ by Giambologna, as well as in the ‘Rape of Proserpina’ by Bernini, the image of the woman’s face is always almost welcoming, almost abandoned, aware. Often the woman was represented as if she ‘deserved it’. But this doesn’t correspond to the reality of the facts,” says Jago.
“For me it was instead interesting to face and block that frame, the moment of reaction, to fix the reaction, because in that reaction there is a possibility,” he adds.
With the transformation of the Sant’Aspreno ai Crociferi church into the Jago Museum, the artist hopes to enhance the historical-artistic heritage of Naples’ Rione Sanità neighbourhood.
Don Antonio Loffredo, director of Sant’Aspreno ai Crociferi Church, says gentrification of the area began ten years ago, but credits Jago’s role in re-vamping it.
“Jago arrived five years ago here and was so enchanted by this excitement that he also wanted to participate in this revolution. With art, with beauty, we can change the social life of a place,” he says.
“Narciso,” along with many other pieces by the artist, are on display now at theJago Museum.