MARCO BAGNOLI - "The Wheel of Time"

Exhibition by Marco Bagnoli, Italy "The Wheel of Time" at the National Gallery of N. Macedonia - Chifte Hammam Skopje, April 23 to May 5, 2024 - exhibition that officially announced the decision of the OSTEN Board ITALY to be the "Country in focus" of OSTEN BIENALE Skopje 2024. The exhibition was curated by Zerintia, Contemporary Art Association Odv ( in cooperation with Osten Biennale Skopje - with the support of the Italian Cultural Institute from Belgrade ( and the Italian Embassy in Skopje. The Ambassador of Italy in the R.N.Macedonia H.E. Andrea Silvestri opened the exhibition.

The Seven Sleepers in Skopje

It happens that time has a will of its own and can lead things into unexpected spaces and cause artistic events to arise in unlikely directions. This is the case of Skopje, where the Seven Sleepers by Marco Bagnoli for The Wheel of Time found hospitality and prominence on the dome of an ancient Hammam.
Sleepers rotate on domes that become sailing ships.
They taxi into a Macedonian sky to offer possible orientation.
Lunar lights for those who have lost the stars while traveling.
Bagnoli draws on an ancient legend that tells of 7 young men from Ephesus who, to escape Christian persecution, on the wings of a miraculous event slept - unaware - for more than two centuries in a cave; only realizing when they woke up that they have traversed such a long time.

The theme that recurs in different cultures: in the Christian, in the Muslim, in the Celtic environment, and also in Malaysia - according to Massignon* - is a myth that has its origins in the great migrations, when the exiles on their journey to the south, driven by the cultures megalithic of the north, no longer recognized the stars they referred to orient themselves in the deserts after the equator.
"...Of the parts of his book, I especially love the "Seven Sleepers" series. And not only because it deals with a sacred legend that acts as a hinge between Europe and Asia, radiating to the West and the East, from Christian-Catholic and Christian-Orthodox literature to the Koran and beyond, the power of multiple messages: the defense of one's beliefs, the testimony of faith at the cost of one's life, the centuries-long wait in a prodigious sleep, the awakening, the disorientation, the happiness, the second immediate and definitive death, in a scenario that contrasts the mountain cave and the built city, the darkness of the walled cave and the light of the surrounding countryside, the place of sleep-death and the widespread continuity of life, with a single being - the dog - charged with the marvelous task of mediating between contrasts by keeping watch" - as Cristina Acidini, an art historian writes in La Ruota del Tempo catalog edited by Antonella Nicola and Sergio Risaliti, Maschietto Editore, 2013. 

It captures well how in Marco Bagnoli the art of half-sleep is a gateway to a metaphysical other which also resonates under the domes of the ancient hammam and tells us stories that from Ephesus lead to an Indian Auroville - a crossroads of knowledge and citizenship - towards gardens of ancient chess.
Archetypes of gold and silver, they dance with the Arabian phoenix, seeking through art a unity that can transcend the gray boundaries traced by the narrowness of men...
“In an unprecedented poetic-scientific re-foundation of making art - as Germano Celant writes well - which professes the unity of cultures, to suppress every boundary and every distance, and give back to aesthetic investigation a simultaneous presence of all the polarities of feeling and perceiving”
*Louis Massignon, Parola Data – Ed. Adelphi.
**Germano Celant, MARCO BAGNOLI, Skira 2018.
Here are the words of the Director of Osten Biennial Skopje, Kornelija Koneska:
“I experienced Marco Bagnoli's exhibition "The Wheel of Time" at the National Gallery of North Macedonia as an emotional journey through the intersection between art and time. Placed in the historical setting of the Chifte Hammam in Skopje, Bagnoli's work resonates deeply with the surrounding environment, creating a dialogue between past and present.
Bagnoli's mastery lies in fusing: light with darkness, past-present and future, geometric precision with organic form, thus inviting the viewer to contemplation. Each piece seems to breathe with its own rhythm, echo in its own sound, and perform its own dance, but a cohesive narrative still emerges, guiding viewers through the labyrinth of time. Marco Bagnoli's "The Wheel of Time" is a thought-provoking exploration, beautifully set within the timeless walls of Skopje's Chifte Hammam. An experience that lingers long after you leave the gallery.”

Text from the official newsetter of the Atelier Marco Bagnoli | Photo: Mert Rasim, OSTEN Skopje