They call him ‘The apostle of Caravaggio’ and he is one of the greatest copyist painters in the world as well as an original author. Calogero Termine, a Sicilian artist from Sciacca, is a prodigy. His exceptional curriculum includes exhibitions in different parts of the world, praise from critics and a collection consisting of famous works inspired by the most famous masters of the past such as Titian, Leonardo and Raphael. Sicilian Secrets interviewed him.
There’s something authentic in every forgery.
– The Best Offer
Q: How did you approach your art style?
A: I studied at high school, then I attended political science at university and finally, I worked together with a professor of sociology. One day, it happened that I was in Palermo, and I knew that an exhibition entitled ‘Genius and Passion’ was underway. Some works from the 1600s Neapolitan-Palermo school were collected, including masterpieces by Spagnoletto. I have had a passion for drawing since I was a child and initially, although I was already used to make copies, I like painting as a hobby without thinking that it would have become my job. I took part in some exhibitions, but the real leap took place in 2001.
Q: What happened in 2001?
A: I was in Vienna, and I started to copy live the paintings of Titian, who indirectly was the teacher of Caravaggio. Perhaps for the colors or who knows, for the setting of the works, I made two copies: the Madonna delle Ciliegie and the Zingarella.Something interesting happened there. The museum was always crowded so I began to be contacted by my first clients and understood that the art of copy in a museum sprinkle some ‘salt’ on the location. I noticed that people, if there was a copyist painter, would be interested in stopping to look at the work he was copying, attracting the curiosity of visitors.
Q: How do you choose the subject of a copy?
A: Once I have passed the step of having studied in depth how the great artists used to prepare the canvas, I (almost) never had the opportunity to choose the subjects, my clients did it. I have received requests from some churches or, for example, in 2017 the Anti-Mafia Commission wanted a Nativity for Pope Francis, and so I was inspired by Caravaggio! Furthermore, in 2010, on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the death of Michelangelo Merisi, an exhibition was organized at the Scuderie del Quirinale – open 24 hours a day – and I, in parallel, in Sciacca, made a copy of the Nativity stolen in Palermo in 1969.
Q: Calogero Termine and Sicily, what is your artistic bond?
A: A Sicilian artist who has many similarities with Caravaggio is Antonello da Messina: both pay attention to psychological and artistic details, they look for the immanent reality. It’s enough to look at the Annunciation who is waiting for the announcement of the Archangel as well as the Nativity of Caravaggio: both women are real, true.If a client wants a copy of an artist like Antonello da Messina or Caravaggio, who has also been to Sicily, if I am free to decide, I generally suggest a subject who can express humanity.
Q: What is the value of a copy?
A: I am sure that, as Plato said, ‘you learn if you copy’. Copying is like learning a poem by heart, the ‘grammar’ of painting stays inside.In the copy there is a real value if the copyist painter has the goodness to study the period of the artwork, the materials used and the political period to understand more of the artist and his life.
Q: Thinking about the future, what are the projects of Calogero Termine?
A: I will spend a period in Belgium and one of my ideas is to do something for Caravaggio’s Nativity, who knows…maybe one day it will be found again. Moreover, I want to export Mediterranean painting to Northern Europe: only those who travel the world can fully appreciate light, sea, sky and our countryside. I dream of having here the same light that we have in the South, with a contemporary and modern interpretation as Lo Jacono and in some cases even Guttuso did in the past.