Mosaic Man

Mosaic Man

#Italy is renowned for its #art and craftsmanship, and what better way to see this than by doing a mosaic course with its modern masters in #Ravenna.
Ravenna has a rich cultural heritage, with numerous UNESCO sites. Explore the language and history of mosaic, ever evolving whilst respecting its traditions...


Mosaics Ravenna, Italy

Luca Barberini places the small piece of marble into place carefully but with the ease of an experienced artist. He reaches for another as he chats with me, the motions as natural as breathing. Centuries have passed since the first mosaic makers of Ravenna but the tradition lives on – right now, through Luca. Although the original artists might be a bit shocked at exactly what he’s doing.

Centuries have passed since the first mosaic makers of Ravenna but the tradition lives on

“It’s possible to work with an ancient technique, an ancient language, for contemporary art,” he explains.

Here in Ravenna, a small Italian city in the Emilia Romagna region, the mosaic artworks are more than just a tourist attraction. They are at the heart of the history and identity of the community. The oldest works, which were installed more than 1500 years ago, adorn the interiors of Ravenna’s churches and historic buildings.

Mosaic, Ravenna
Mosaic, Ravenna

Here in Ravenna, a small Italian city in the Emilia Romagna region, the mosaic artworks are more than just a tourist attraction. They are at the heart of the history and identity of the community. The oldest works, which were installed more than 1500 years ago, adorn the interiors of Ravenna’s churches and historic buildings.

They are at the heart of the history and identity of the community

“We have maybe the best monuments in the world where you can find the ancient mosaics,” Luca rightfully boasts.

Mosaic, Ravenna

It’s not these artworks that Luca is most proud of, though. He is part of the new generation that is using the same techniques with a modern style – fusing tradition with current taste.

“The ancients used the mosaics like a book,” he explains. “So if you go in a church you can see a figure – for example Christ – and you can learn the story like a cartoon.”

“So for the modern they don’t want to use the figurative things so it’s more like…” he pauses to try to think of an example I might understand, “…Pollock, Jackson Pollock.”

Mosaic, Ravenna

Modern Mosaic Art

Luca works out of his own studio in Ravenna called Koko Mosaico.

from  $464

Beginners Mosaic Course

Aspirational
 Via di Roma, 136, Ravenna, 48121 Province of Ravenna, Italy
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 At the moment he’s in the middle of one of the more abstract contemporary pieces he was just referring to. Look closely and it seems like he’s randomly placing different sized and coloured pieces. Step back and a crowd of people appears from his work, each figure with their own characteristics.

Mosaic, Ravenna

He’s using marble for some pieces, glass for others. The glass is made especially for mosaic art in an ancient oven in Venice. 

He’s using marble for some pieces, glass for others

It’s the same way they made the glass two thousand years ago. Some things in this industry need never change, it seems.

Mosaic, Ravenna

For Luca, other than the style of his art, it is essentially the same process. He does only one thing differently. Rather than cutting all his pieces of marble and glass before he starts to make the mosaic, he does it as he goes. It goes against everything the methodical ancients believed in… but boys will be boys!

“It’s casual,” is how Luca puts it. “I want to work in that way without rules, spontaneously.”

I want to work in that way without rules, spontaneously
Mosaic, Ravenna

Ravenna Mosaic Art

The art of Ravenna is in the blood of its children. Luca started studying at the art institute of mosaics when he was fourteen and was there for five years. Interestingly, though, he says it was only about five years ago, when he was 25, that he was able to really express himself creatively.

Luca started studying at the art institute of mosaics when he was fourteen 

“I understood just five or six years ago how I explain my personal art in a language – the language is mosaics.”

Mosaic, Ravenna

The style of art is world-famous. To the point where the tourists who come to Ravenna come mainly for the art, where Hollywood celebrities have asked Luca to make artworks for them, and a mosque in Oman has commissioned him and his team to make a 600 square metre mosaic for its design.

Mosaic, Ravenna

I wonder what the artists of Ravenna in the fifth century would make of all of this? Would they be more surprised that their descendants are decorating a mosque in the Middle East or finding inspiration for their from Jackson Pollock? Maybe they wouldn’t mind at all. Maybe they would just be proud that the tradition of Ravenna, the legend of the mosaics, lives on.

Time Travel Turtle was a guest of the Emilia Romagna tourism board but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

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