Ivan Cangelosi




MUSEUM OF THE WRITING AND OF THE SIGN – Strada da Bertolla all’Abbadia di Stura, 200, 10156 – Turin

PALERMO F.C. MUSEUM – “Renzo Barbera” Stadium. Viale del Fante 11, 90146 Palermo

GALERIE IMMOBILIEN – Landstraßer Haupstraße 74, 1030 – Vienna. 

ATELIER – Heiligenstädter Straße 5/10 – 1190 Vienna

It is ancestral the relationship between art and Writing – intended as the materiality of writing and not only its content -, moreover in the way in which this relationship is traditionally considered as the noblest, that is literature.

Let us consider the depicted nature, at first pictographic in order to seek the correspondence between thing and sign, then ideographic when it is the notion that must be expressed, that characterizes the beginnings of writing, according to a line of continuity that in the history of the universal civilization put together the Ancient Egypt to the present China, where people still communicate by ideograms. The turning point in the evolution of writing, it is when the focus moves from sight to sound, freeing it from the need that it shared at most with art: the representation of the world.

 Hence, a gap of intents, protracted until art, or at least that one recognizing itself in the so called “Avant-gard”, placed itself on the same level of the writing, even denying its depicting purpose. After Cy Twombly, for whom the manual writing, often asemantic (that is bereft of verbal meanings), becomes a reason for specific informal reflection, Joseph Kosuth pushes his Conceptualism to go beyond art, searching in the “Writing” the negation of all its aesthetic ambitions.

 Which is the position, with respect to these ineluctable precedents, of the “neo-amanuens” art of Ivan Cangelosi, amazing in his contriving images, perfectly figured through manual transcription of entire literary works, as it would be the case of a tapestry? In a way not only manually, but also intellectually fine: the writing cannot be merely form, as Twombly would say, not merely content, as Kosuth would state, because the Writing has a form, and every form, as it has been shown by the Avant-gard, can be “aestheticized”. Therefore, the conciliation Cangelosi proposes submits the prerogatives of literary textuality to compliance with other textuality to live with, those of figurative art. The work of Ivan Cangelosi is therefore innovative, essential in its complex language. In fact, he seems to be able to grasp the essential core that lies behind a thought. An operation of a great linguistic ability, opened moreover to infinite developments.

Prof. Vittorio Sgarbi – Historian and Art Critic

In Ivan Cangelosi’s works, it is clear the presence of a brilliant and meticulous art. A new way of expression takes the form of a tapestry made of an embroidery of words. Entire novels and famous literary texts become, thanks to Ivan Cangelosi, marvellous artworks. These majestic artworks are the result of a long and meticulous work, of an unique charm and a totally original touch. A creativity where literature and painting merge, by creating something absolutely new, original, strongly contemporary, where the handwriting, and the letters that compose it, are at the same time substance and color of the artwork.

Ivan Cangelosi’s works demand, from those who observe them, an intellectual approach as well as a sensual one. In fact, the pleasure of their vision does not only regard the senses but also, and perhaps above all, the mind; ‘cause it is purely intellectual the pleasure to know that that picture that you are admiring and appreciating for its subject or its color, is actually much more than this: it’s an entire novel of 400 pages, or even 800 pages (such as the famous Thomas Mann’s novel “Buddenbrooks”) entirely re-written by hand within the space of a painting. The eye and the predisposition of the soul “feel” the artwork; the intellect transcends them both towards a higher and more complete pleasure.

Literature and visual arts then become one. A technique that reminds of pointillism  where every detail is the result of a delicate and refined mind, ready to interpret any text in a visual key, turn the word into color and the color into images that evokes the depicted literary text. That’s why it becomes essential in this kind of work, the preliminary relationship between the content of the novel and the subject portrayed in the painting. The comprehension of the artwork will truly be complete only if one has previously read and thoroughly understood the literary text depicted in the artwork.

I would dare call Master Ivan Cangelosi, the portraitist of literature, the visual “Fairy-Taler” of the best literary works. His works show a complex personality which seems to be dwelled, with equal force, by instinct, passion, anarchy and foolhardiness, on the one hand, and rationality, discipline and exactness on the other. A dual, tormented personality, where the opposites find a sublime synthesis in artworks made by a complicated, rich and detailed line, made with incredible care, precision, method and patience. An art, that of Ivan Cangelosi, who deserves the applause of the world. In a context where it is difficult to emerge,   Ivan Cangelosi’s works are unequivocal, as it is unequivocally his great originality.

(Alessandro Costanza, critic and art historian -Monographic Catalogue Art Project 2016)

When you look at the artworks of Ivan Cangelosi, it is hard to believe that they have not been painted. Closer you look, more astonishing becomes what is in front of you, that is that every picture, every   portrayed image consists of thousands, even millions of tiny letters. And it is not simply the arbitrary distribution of letters but a translation in images of entire literary texts, novels in particular, hundreds of pages long.

What is amazing, even more than the enormous technical effort of rewriting by hand thousands of words, hundreds and hundreds of pages, it is the fact that before our eyes, these letters, words, sentences, suddenly have a whole new meaning . The entire literary text is here, before us, turned into picture. It has not lost its aura, rather it has become something else.

Ivan Cangelosi, with his handwritten paintings, succeeds in making an extraordinary operation: he combines literature and art; more precisely, it turns literature into visual art. He therefore establishes a relationship between two intellectual and spiritual fields that only human beings own, and in this way he makes it clear that literature and art are our highest forms of expression.

Ivan Cangelosi enchant us with his works in a unique way. On the one hand, he leads us to the origins of writing, when it still was a category of art and as such it legitimized itself outward, beyond its content; on the other hand, it gives birth in us, in respect of the books that we see depicted and that we also probably love, new unexpected associations. Associations produced by Ivan Cangelosi through a refined embroidery of letters of those that are considered modern tapestries. His art, although contemporary, is not subservient to the spirit of our time. Without following fashion trends, he represents the temporal flow of the Spirit. He has chosen a clear way to do art and has decided to follow it to the end, without hesitation or “squinting” temptations toward the laws and methods of the art market.

The definition of our way of being is art. The purpose of evolution is the beauty. In this respect, Ivan Cangelosi’s works bring us much closer to this goal.

(Otto Hans Ressler, Art expert and writer. Director of the Auction Haus “Ressler Kunst Auktionen” in Vienna)

It’s a new art, that of Ivan Cangelosi. An art that translates the acient amanuensis technique into suggestive images. His ability to transform the word into image makes him a truly art innovator…


(Josè Van Roy Dalì – Effetto Arte, February 2015)

Words that become images, shapes and volumes. Ivan Cangelosi’s ability of visual translation is here expressed at best, in a riot of originality and technicality.


(Dino Masarà about the work “La corda pazza (Sicilitudine)”. Effetto Arte – May 2015)

in the age of technology, of the storage via cloud, where do we place Cangelosi? In a transverse space, whichcannot be defined as anachronistic but, on the contrary, which ponders about our days and looks towards the futurein the direction in which knowledge will always look. […] A long process in which the blank space is covered withhandwriting, which invades and wins every millimeter, shapes and representations which portray the sense of thechosen text. Reading and vision come together, they merge, becoming aesthetic essence altogether. The ink is the medium through which the translation is done, genius and conceptualism are the solid foundation to which everything is anchored

(Azzurra Immediato about the work La corda pazza (sicilitudine).” Catalogue of the exhibition “The new goal of the contemporary.” Farini Gallery, Bologna. P. 24-25)

Ivan Cangelosi’s artworks lead the viewer into a fairytale world, where the subjects portraied take on traits and shapes recalling the collective memory. The artist shapes figures that inhabit the work, taking care with meticulousness of every detail. He lingers with the precision of a miniaturist on every single part of the painting. These artworks are able to bring back to memory a heritage that belongs to a family collective imagination.

Salvatore Russo about the artwork “La corda pazza – (Sicilitudine)”, Annuario delle Eccellenze, pag. 279 – June 2015

About Ivan Cangelosi's Art

The idea behind Ivan Cangelosi’s art is that of combining literature with visual art through the transformation of the novels (and literary texts in general) into figurative art.

In other words, Ivan Cangelosi, through the whole rewriting by hand of the texts, turns books into paintings.

World-renowned literary masterpieces, fully rewritten by hand, turned into paintings. Embroidery of letters, lights and shadows that take shape inside the perimeter of a single space. And then … the imagination that becomes image. Artist Ivan Cangelosi in his work combines art-with-art in a mix of literature and painting. His inspiration is sublimated in a pictorial concept entirely dropped into images and shapes composed of literary verses, as if to suggesting the idea of a continuity of feeling, seeing and touching, totalizing the emotions of the observer. Ivan has a degree in Political Science and lives in Vienna. In his works, pen and ink are the tool used to embroider the texture of the paintings, modern tapestries woven through a busy hub of lowercase letters, two millimeters large, a technique that reminds of the ancient amanuensis art.

Thus, the most famous classics like the “Divine Comedy” by Dante or “The Metamorphosis” by Kafka, have been transferred on canvas in their original language by the brilliant skill of the artist who puts and camouflages them in the overview of a single painting.

“The idea was born six years ago, while flipping through my university notes – he says -. That page, at times written in a smooth and uniform way, at times scribbled and full of little darts insinuating through the lines while connecting two notions, seemed to me aesthetically beautiful. Hence the idea that the novel could be not only read but also looked at and admired as a whole, in a single act, indeed as you would look at a painting.”

Sabrina Macaluso
I Love Sicilia, May 2014