ArtQuench Presents Artist “Akelo”
AN ARTIST WHO DOESN’T RUN WITH THE PACK
Text by Monica Caiti. Translation from Italian by Louise Mayr
© Akelo – Andrea Cagnetti – All Right Reserved
In a time such as ours, in which everything is consumed (or destroyed) with voracious speed, it is difficult to explain the mystery of a young man – Andrea Cagnetti, art name Akelo – who dedicates his life to an artistic vocation. But his life is not weaved with the desire to be the centre of attention, to be worldly, or with travel and convulsive movements, as often happens. It is instead cultivated in a monastic retreat, in the silence of studying almost completely forgotten ancient texts and in total dedication to an infinite series of minute gestures couched in a microcosm beyond reach; that of unique, timeless jewels and cutting-edge sculptures.
All without ever falling into temptation… technological temptation, like a real renaissance man – who wanted to isolate himself in his tiny workshop – as he feels he is and he is. It is difficult to explain or even to understand all this. One needs to live it. In these pages, though, we are trying to penetrate a little deeper into the mysterious and fascinating universe of this artist.
Water like infinite becoming
His choice of an art name already lets one understand his will to draw from the myths and knowledge of antiquity. In fact, Akelo refers to Acheloo, son of Oceanus and Thetes, the most important among the Greek fluvial (river) gods.
Thales of Miletus was the first western philosopher to consider water to be the origin of life, or more precisely, the first cause (arché) from which all that exists originated. It’s no accident, as water reminds us of the vastness of oceans and the womb and it flows quickly everywhere, thus becoming a metaphor for the infinite becoming of all things. Nothing lends itself to symbolizing an art better than this element, like the art of “Neo-Acheloo” Cagnetti. On one hand, he is deeply rooted in Classic culture and on the other he reaches towards the future of an incessant creativity, able to mold metals with his hands, giving it the gift of inner life. An art in fact that is laced with an extraordinary tension, the apex of a slow and difficult development process – balanced between the wealth of tradition and modern artistic demands – which allows the transition from a static object, though finely reproduced, to a vitally dynamic true artwork.
Struck by Alchemy
Born in 1967 in Corchiano (Viterbo), about forty kilometers north of Rome, Andrea Cagnetti spent his childhood and adolescence in the same places where the ancient city of Fescennia once stood, a fact that couldn’t help but capture his young imagination. Already at 6 or 7 years old he roams amidst Etruscan tombs: amidst those sun-baked stones he dreams of discovering incredible treasures. His childhood fantasies are followed by his graduation from scientific high school and then his move to Rome, where he worked as a graphic designer in an important advertising agency. At the same time he incessantly studies the traditional Greek and Latin literary sources, such as Agricola (De re metallica), Biringuccio (De la pirotechnia), Cellini (Trattati dell’oreficeria e della scultura), Dioscorides (De Materia Medica), Pliny the Elder (Historia Naturalis), Theophilus Presbyter (Schedula diversarum artium) and Theophrastus (De lapidus). In this same period, Andrea Cagnetti makes the striking discovery of alchemic knowledge, which will lead him, on one hand, to extend the scope and the depth of his studies, and on the other to confer spiritual depth to his artistic research. He was especially impressed with the Secret Book of Artephius, who, legend has it, lived to be more than 300. At the heart of this text is the purification process of the alchemist: bringing man towards a spiritual evolution, expressed by the metaphoric transmutation of lead into gold. The artist must therefore aim at growing spiritually and thereby help humankind do the same through his work. Moreover, it seems that Artephius was also patron of the Rosicrucians, which was perhaps the most mysterious fellowship in Western history. Andrea Cagnetti decides to adopt the life rules of its adepts, who devoted their existence to the sacred, eulogizing modesty and temperance, altruism and charity towards all living beings. Our artist was also influenced by another alchemy book: Silent Book of Alchemy (Mutus Liber) from the XVII century, and by its enigmatic invitation: “pray, read, read, read, reread, work, and you will find”. Cagnetti would embrace this simple but significant commandment by investigating with increasing passion and devotion the major metallurgic and goldsmith’s art pamphlets, both ancient and modern.
An initiate’s path towards the absolute
Hence the artist’s choice to leave the hectic life of the city to return to his home town and to dedicate himself completely to art by living in an almost monastic way. He begins to combine theoretical learning with experimentation in order to concretely verify the ancient mettallurgical techniques, which up until then remained at the level of thought. After several carefully conducted attempts based on very important scholarly studies, Cagnetti tries to blaze new trails of research by adopting a completely personal approach which is both technical and theoretical. He obtains highly successful results and fine-tunes innovative technical discoveries that spur him to increase his experiments and to focus on the application of elaborate methodological procedures. In fact, some of the results of his scientific and experimental research have been published in the prestigious International Journal of Material Research. His study-laboratory is thus transformed into an Etruscan tomb, silent and far from the noise of the world. There he travels his initiate’s path towards art and beauty and also through pain and solitude. In fact, a serious accident changes his way of being, thinking and perceiving reality, and further heightens his sensitivity. He is never compelled, though, to turn back or to renounce his vocation.
Today, Andrea Cagnetti’s works have been displayed at several national and international art exhibits and have caused a media sensation all over the world. Countless articles, reviews, and television appearances have been dedicated to him, which highlight not only the talent and the unique style of this artist but also the value of his research studies. In the past few years, some of his works have been acquired by important museums and private collections.
MORE ON AKELO…
Andrea Cagnetti, who works under the name Akelo, is an old
soul living in the 21st century. He lives in a private world
where he can deeply focus on his passion of creating beautiful
golden jewels wrought with 3,000 year-old techniques as well
as sculptures at the forefront of cutting-edge art. Through a
ritual of intense meditation and experimentation, Akelo can be
considered a “renaissance” man in every way.
He was born in 1967 in Corchiano (in the province of Viterbo), which is built
upon the ruins of the legendary Etruscan city of Fescennia. Akelo’s education as
a teenager and young adult would carry him closer to his destiny of becoming a
master goldsmith and artist. In
school and after his formal education
ended, he focused on Greek and
Latin literature, on alchemy and the
tools and techniques of goldsmithery
Of all his singular experiences, Akelo credits
the revelations inspired by “The Secret Book”,
written by a mysterious alchemist named
Artephius about whom little is known. Legend
has it that Artephius was part of a spiritual
brotherhood devoted to unraveling the
mysteries of the hidden world. His life and
work were a great influence for Akelo as they
illustrate the commitment he needed to create
his own body of work.
After a successful career as a graphic
artist living in the hustle and bustle of
Rome, and after many years of studying,
Akelo returned to the little village of
Corchiano. He left city life behind to
fulfill his destiny as an artist. The peace
and quiet of Corchiano allowed to him
focus on his work.
Akelo’s body of work is based on myths, legends and symbols, taken from an
ancestral repertory and elaborated through a personal cryptic language drawn
from a knowledge of alchemy coming from his in-depth studies of ancient texts.
Today, his art moves between two poles. On the one hand, Akelo creates jewelry
and objects in gold of marvelous
perfection, and on the other hand,
powerful sculptures in metal.
Two poles that outwardly seem worlds
apart and irreconcilable, but in reality
united by the same subtle guiding
principle: miniscule particles, which are
detached from the material of the infinite
cosmos. Or maybe these particles can be
seen as mysterious tiny meteors vibrating
with energy, looking for new spatial
relationships, harmonious to read, located
in some remote angle of the universe.
In the golden works by Akelo, these particles
are microscopic in dimension. He gathers them
together to create original and unique works of
art, which are inspired by
ancient civilizations but
at the same instant
In his sculptures these same particles, now of
macroscopic dimensions, after a prolonged wandering in the fantasy of the artist,
give life to an ever more complex reality.
The sculptures project themselves – rotating in a magical dance – in every
dimension, going one way unexpectedly, then testing the profundity of unknown
dimensions. They thus manifest the secret “soul” of things, each one different,
each one filled with the subtle breath of creation and of life. And in their
roughness and elegant nudity, they recall the stringent rules of divine rationality
that govern everything.
Akelo’s works of art have been shown in various national and international
exhibitions, with his work being widely acclaimed and highly esteemed by the
media throughout the world. Moreover,
several of his pieces have become part of
the permanent collections of important