Lillo Messina was born in Messina on the l9th of January and spent his youth in a location situated on the Paradise beach.His link with the sea, a strong and physical presence, was made stronger by a family tradition: his grandfather, his father and his uncles were all men of the sea. In the same city he began his artistic studies, in the Art Institute, continued later in Reggio Calabria.


He moves to Rome and frequents The Academy of Fine Arts, to study pointing. His teachers were first, Pippo Rizzo and later, Mino Maccari. While he followed his academic studies, he began his artisticresearch. Here we find his first Roman pointings, bringing us to fragments of pastures, landscapes,figures, urban scenes, still lives, where the light penetrates the image, firing the contours of the froms and the colours.


He has his first personal show in the Galleria San Marco in Rome, and the critical text of the catalogue is presented by Renato Civello, who captures in a direct manner the significance of theseearly works. 'Singing with colour on the reluctance of the forms'. An auroral innocence of being which pushes him towards an innovation which does not refuse the past. His concept of pointingflals in the area of European figurativism.


He participates in the 1Oth Exhibition of Figurative Art at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni of Rome, organized by Durbé, Ferrari and Menna.


He tokes part in the II National Exhibition of Figurative Art Italian Works in the Palazzo delle Esposizioni of Rome.


He begins a long series of personal exhibitions which brings him cycle. They are the Black Cathedrals, Totems, Magic Mirrors. In the presentation of the catalogue for the exhibition at the Galleriad'arte Moderna of Grosseto, Ugo Attardi writes "(...) running and shouting is that which brings us right to the struggle, it tells us of a destiny full of efforts and one perceives the passing of Time, themutation of the material and of the spirit. Everything happens and figures under and against a sky without past and future limits: idea-image. a feeling of greatness, of certainty and delusion'. Andagain di Genova, in the same catalogue 'from the Medioeval period and after pointing struggles aguinst monsters. Firstly against the conditioning monsters of conscience, then also against the oppressive monsters of society. Overall the lines along which this struggle occurs go from Bosch to Ernst, and from Goya to Picasso. The pointing of Lillo Messina struggles more againstinternal monsters than those of illuminism against the monsters of political power, both religious and economic. So it is not against the dream of the reason created monsters that Messina intends tostruggle, but against those monsters which lurk in the profound 'id', avid residues of the Medioeval which are difficult to obliterate form the level of consciousness. Hieronymus Bosch is the distantroat of the work of Messina". In the same year he participates in the 10th National Exhibition of Figurative Art: Italian Works, again at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni of Rome.


Messina has a personal show at the Galleria Ciovasso of Milan.

Emilio Sidoti, in his presentation in the catalogue writes '(...) the colour always shows the affective component of an artist and it is the faithful mirror of his spontaneous sensitivity. This applies alsoto Messina. His colours are very inviting and joyous, not with standing the dramatic intentions of the author, they tell us immediately that Messina is not one who says no to existence. In the same year he exhibits at the Galleria Schreiber of Brescia.Writing in the newspaper of Brescia Elvira Cassa Salvi says: "In that very actual zone of a new form of pointing both lucid and surrealistic, in conflict with a world in the grip of a technological enigma, both, vivacious and joyful, in contrast with that sense ofnigthmare and heavy threat, above all from the void spaces. Messina manages to represent, in an unusual manner, modern alienation. Not yet thirty, he reveals an uncommon capacity forclarity, of imageful evidence".


He is invited to participate at the Xl Premio Nazionale Capo d'Orlando and aiter to Turin for the exhibition 'Cento Pittori per il Socialismo' organized by Mario De Micheli.


He has a personal show at the Galleria I1 Molino of Rome, another at the Galleria Valguarnera of Bagheria, and yet another at Catania at the Galleria Il Punto. The works of this period are of a desperate surrealism, coloured by the graphic tradition and it is right that this is so, given the ageof the artist, which does not give him yet means to express the feeling of love-hate for the world. It is for this that the exhibitions of Messina now have an element of irony which liberates theagainst of first contact. Evidently the Sicilian artist, away from his roots has found against the negative aspects of the technological civilization. if he had pointed red sunsets of Sicily, the mountainscoloured by bunches of ginestre, he would have used the samechromatic gradation which he uses today to render lightening quick the anxiety which oppresses them.


He exhibits at the 'Nuova Pesa' of Rome, a prestigious gallery of the Seventies. It is an exhibition rich of works of a large dimension based on the theme of ecology, among them of particular interest and disturbance, a series of nine pointings mensuring 50 x 70 cm., each linked to the other, representing a single theme: in theporpose iconography, the living being, whose segments go together with the products of the most aseptic design, having still a human nature, but they are already marked in a irremediable manner by a series of mutations imposed by the environment. A kind of continuation of the discourse poltronuomo proposed by Alberto Savinio, the spectacle of a form and of a substance acquired frombeings which have become monuments to themselves, adorned with legs and arms on the domestic pedestal of a grand armchair of those years. In the rendering of Messina the man-individua spreads himself, he stretches himself, like obeying a duty according to the always more rigid ritual, also if attractive. He must considerhimself to be the individual most relaxed, in the best armchair, in the best house, in front of the most fascinating coloured screen, across which, in order not to think, pass vague images of remoteworlds. But underneath he knows that in the same house, in that near, at the other side of the city or the globle another being, millions of others, are stretched out on similar armchairs, in front of similar screens, on which pass only ephemeral colours.


Apart from various shows in various Italian cities, he exhibits for the first time at the Bedford House Gallery of London. Max Wykes Jyoce in the International Herald Tribune "... strange, yet perfectlyconclusive way of pointing a landscape, at times meadowy, at times marine, where now appear volatile and animalesque beings, thenhumanoid shadows. Unusable machines, apparently abandoned, or their components, violently attack a sweet green landscape. Thesecomponents circulate in an able manner to arrive at a satisfactoryvisuality that suggests an interdependence and mutual indifferencebetween all its elements. A metaphysical form of pointing which creates curiosity, though always remaining inside the traditional Italian Philosophy. He participates, aiter this, in the exhibition 'Giornate Italiane a Mosca e nell'URSS".


He is invited by the critic, Giorgio Seveso, in collaboration with the Galleria Ciovasso of Milan to participate in the exhibition "Trent'anni dopo - Pittori Italiani per la Resistenza'. Giorgio diGenova inserts the work of Messina in the book 'Le realtà del Fantastico (L'Arte in Italia dal Dopoguerra ad Oggi)". Editori Riuniti. In the same year he participates with three works of a largedimension in the X Quadriennale d'Arte di Roma, at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni.


This is a particularly active year, rich in personal shows held at Lamezia Terme, Livorno, Mantova, Roncoferraro (MN), Parma, Milan and at the end, for the second time, in London. Persenting the artist, Pierre Rouve writes 'Messina remains insidethe confines of reality: the excessive dose of reality is injected arcoss a hypnotic calligraphy; that which is pninted acquires a new significance through the way in which it is pointed. Exactnessgenerates nightmares. Isolation conceives the desolation. All thevital illusions are absorbed hy the unnatural hardness of the natural things. "La varie vie est absente", from this combination of broken images at low tide 'when the water recedes'; Rimbaudmeets Eliot in the "desert land" of Lillo Messina which is also hisprivate 'season of inferno'; unnatural nature".


An exhibition at the gallery Il Grifo in Rome, in the presentation from which Mario Lunetta underlines "(...) a form of pointing, only in appearance contemplative, that of the Sicilian artist; a form ofpointing in reality generously coid. A concept both creative andanalytical, which is required of every intellectual operation worthy of the name. Because one sees how, from pointing to pointing, Messina questions the certainties acquired in the preceding phases, at a formal level on the lines of an interrupted alteration of the guined harmony". He has a personal show at the Centro d'arte Condor of Palermo.


After showing at Bologna, in the Galleria San Paolo, and aiter wards in Rome at the Galleria Il Grifo, he begins another intense period of confrontations, giving numerous personal shows in many cities, among which are Bologna, Cosenza, Reggio Calabria and Città di Castello.His artistic personality is clearly mature, across the colour which underlines with its incisive sensuality the imponent element of the from, being the only voice for this, the symbols of the universe ofMessina are, at the same time, hoth calm and disturbing.


He is commissioned to do a work for the Gas Condait trans-mediterranean which is later illustrated in the magazine published by ENI. The sea, already present in his works since the middle of the seventies, becomes always stronger, like a narrative element. Above all it is the poetic element which separates the artist from his linkwith the preceding symbology of a surrealistic character which Messina pointed betwecn the sixties and the seventies. A surrealism,which through its own personal code, had brought him torecount, across a kind of element of the bizzarre and exaspiration, which never gives place to emotional chans. The sea moves thefilters of his pointing, as if it pushes him, always more insistently, to focus his eye and his hand beyond, to look for and to find who knows what state of the saul, what image, or what element which is lacking. Now it is the sea which the absolute protagonist.


The gallery, Ca' d'Oro of Rome houses a personal exhibition. Franco Solmi, presenting the artist, writes "this fascinating voyage can go from the regions of an antique myth, and almost uncap true oble, to the lost beoches of the present, wherever the relics of an immense and superh technology find themselves trapped, generating forms of devilish mechanisms. This is done by presenting the nightmare of crystal skies, of lucid seas, of mineral lights, of earthwhere the green is impregnated with violent yellows, and full ofhidden reds. The earth of an island, I would say, on which the favlour of a fable permeates, thick and glassy, like in the pointing of popular legends".


He is invited by the Centre Arti Visive Modigliani of Scandicci (Fl) to the exhibition "Omaggio a Dino Campana - Sulle orme della chimera". In the same year he participates in the exhibition of art "Pittura nell'area meridionale" held at the Museo Civico of Rende (CS).


He tokes part first in the exhibition "Voglia di Pace Autori contro la violenza" in the County Council of Marzabotto (BO) and Sesto Fiorentino (Fl), and later in the Painting Competition "Le città della Magna Graecia" Rossano (CS).


After participating in the International Competition of Painting and Graphics Ibla Mediterraneo, at the County Council of Modica(RG), the County Council of Alia (PA) puts on a personal show in the County Library. After he takes part in the I Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture in the Mediterranean, at Riposto (CT).


He taìkes part in the exhibition "Presenze Siciliane" at the Monumental Complex San Michele a Ripa in Rome, organized by Claudio Strinati, Sergio Rossi and Gianfranco Proietti. The gallery La Gradiva of Rome houses a personal show entitled 'In viaggio con Ulisse'. They are essentially pointings of large dimension, a sweet adventure between metaphor and reality. It isarcoss the symbology of this mythalogical figures that the artistexpresses himself. But it is a mythology which transcends the mythology itself, considered from the classical point of view. It is a mythology of the daily life where "the heroism comes from the rael which entraps it (...) heroic because this is the doubt which hammers the soul, the eternal mysterious sphinx, the impossability of reconecting the economy of the visible, not with standing whetherfamiliar or etherodox, to the preordinated convivents of the cosmic mystery; as Civello writes in the catalogue. It is here where thehero of Homer and that of Dante are identified with Ulysees ofJyoce. The eternal wandering to return to ones native land, the first to know which pashes one beyond becomes the wandering inside ourselves to try to find the truth, the island-buoy, which justifies our daily being. All this across pictorical images which technically, with a more profound reading, cannot be consideredonly related to the question of hyper-realism. Domenico Guzzi writes: "(...) We will not be right in evaluating the image of the pointer according to the rhythm of certain hyper realities. And here our thoughts turn not so much to the Americans, but rather to the Germans of the group "Zebra", which whilemaintaining an objective relationship, they have not made them into an element exclusively obsessive. For reasons of local culture - in a word - of European sensitivity. Messina belongs to that areaof artists which we could be tempted to describe simply as artists of the truth. Always, of course, passed through the filter ofintellectual analysis". In writing about the exhibition Dario Micacchi speaks of pointing of subtle phases from one state of mind to another state of mind: neat cuts of sagomes and colours which irradiate light in the cosmic light. The eye of the pointer is penetrating, obsessive, teaching the pieces of grass and the flowers growing between onesotne and another; the objects leit on the sand or on dock, the lacerated or new cord, the seagulls high in the sky and the seagulls in turbans which pose here and there. The vision is nett and neo-metaphysic. The sense of time which is poinful; the nostalgia of an uncontaminated age which is quite strong".


The gallery Ca d'Oro invites the artist to the IV Salone D'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea "Arte Roma '92" for the realization of one of the Wunderkammers, called 'I1 mare nella stanza', which atierwards is presented in one of the rooms of the gallery itself. The pointer realizes a few works created deliberately for an evinronment, a refined and curious play between objects of amarine metallargic nature (portholes, brass handles, iron getty holos) and pictorial images. Over this sort of osmosis a particular relationship is installed between the work and the maker where the three-dimensional play assumes the quality of something live and real, thanks to the recouperation of these elements and of their use.And it is also clear, the voice of the artist himself, in the catalogue, presents his own poetic component, and affirms, what is the island buoy, what it represents. It is a landing, a possibility of ransom 'alongthe route incised by the mind to cancel the grey and the fear".


Undoubtedly the preceding personal show of Lillo Messina has represented an enormous advance ahead of the artist in his research. The impact with the chromatic acceleration is strong but this does not signify a break with his artistic past. Instead it puts in evidence the common thread through all his work. If the beginnings were characterized by 'sing with colour on the reluctance of the forms', now this reluctance becomes other forms to which, like all the forms in the imagination corresponds to anacceleration of the emotions which in a space free from the reassuring coordinates of our reality, finds continuous breath and not a block. An acceleration which is also intellectual, and which,if before seemed to look for the true, then comprehended that ones owntrue, as Strinati declared, is the truth of vision.


He exhibits his paintings at the M.G.P. Arte Contemporanea. In this exhibition space the coreographer Atha Atziioannoy realizes a dance performance where each dancer symbolizes an island, which is painted on the dancers' costumes by Lillo Messina. The dancers display their quest for their own shape and colour through gestures and movements that compose and recompose the spacial symmetries of his works.


He participates in the exhibition "The Painted Island: Sicily, Fifty Years of Nature and Landscapes" that takes place in Rome, at the Risorgimento Museum. The municipality of Piombino, together with the Centre of Cultural Activity, organizes a monographical exhibition devoted to Lillo Messina whose title is "Sea 'beyond' sea". It takes place in the rooms of Palazzo Appiani and includes about fifty large-scale paintings. In his presentation of the artist, Aldo Gerbino writes: " Lillo Messina and his memory are led by a sort of yearning for emersion. A watery nature pushes him and sweeps him away joyously and playfully with its biological fragments made of unlikely radiolarians and pigmented organic objects, arranged by an invisible though wilful hand in the whirlpool of chaos. This yearning finds its substance among these engendering elements, in this magmatic ancestral spiral, charming flame that rises between the sky and the sea. This is what peoples the longing that lives and smoulders in the heart of this Mediterranean artist."


He exhibits his paintings at the Conference Palace in Montesilvano. The title of the exhibition is "Mirabilis Insula Picta", that is, Painting as the Island of Wonders. Here astonishment rises as well as the moment of suspense while approaching the paintings, the physical sensation that one feels while moving from one island to another as if flying, alighting now and then. It is a calm and quiet flight. The seer's impact of Lillo Messina's painting is first physical then intellectual. He tells us about his need to keep on searching for his own island that is not to be found yet and that, perhaps, he does not want to find. And he does it through the rigour and sharpness of his images. The longed island is the island that is not meant to be. His painting openly unfolds like a journey. But if the journey involves a return to the originary place, to Messina this return means to reappropriate former certainties now filtered by experience. At present the artist is more daring in the layout of his paintings, as the subsequent exhibitions in Rome (2004) and Castrovillari (2005) show. His works are focused on the detail rather than on the wholeness. By doing this, he wants to suggest something beyond the canvas. He now neglects easily defined shapes and the island becomes more and more abstract. His chromatic sense gets new, as in the oranges and purples, his set of colours widens up perhaps to give this endless journey greater breath and strength.

© Daniele Pecorelli 2014