contemporary art cultural architecture cultural heritage digital photo art experimental photography fine art Francesco Mercadante Italy painting photo art



// Francesco is both a painter and photographer, born in Cutro, Calabria, Italy. He has always had a strong love of the arts and has taken his artistry into his photography. While we previously featured Francesco´s rendering of the eternal city of Rome, this time he has shared his artful photographs from the series “The holy crucifix of Cutro and Christian piety”.

Francesco says that the passion for photography has accompanied his life, marking the passage of time, ever since at the age of about nine years old he became “friends” with a blue bicycle, Rondinella, a gift from his father, and a Kodak Instamatic, with which he went on “solitary escapes, in nature, over the countryside to capture “glances”, imagine, dream …

Francesco has taken part in several group and solo exhibitions. His photographs have been selected by Vogue Italia, and his photographic projects have been published in Italian and international magazines. His artworks have been acquired by museums.

“My photography wants to tell the story of the things I think and see. For me, photography is an existential necessity.”

Francesco Mercadante

What draws you to the arts?

“Reggio Emilia welcomed me from 1988 on, and in the following years, perhaps my love for photography was “hidden” in painting, among the colours, which play with shadow and light. It is always nature that, still today, I go looking for, or maybe it is she who calls me, among country paths, in our plain: expanses of meadows, skies, trees, streams, old abandoned houses… for me they are harmony, landscape architecture, “furnishings of the Earth”, fragments of life and lives. They have stories to tell and are much more than places: they evoke atmospheres, in an aura that intimately “breathes”, simply like this, in small steps, with many projects and dreams “in the drawer”, Libera-Mente opens up to the present, to the future, to life: to the “possible”… seizing moments!””

What do you like best about your project of documenting in an artistic way the procession with the crucifix of Cutro that you have shared with us?

The feast of the Holy Crucifix every seven years attracts a large number of faithful who come to Cutro from all over the world. So I, too, return to observe and photograph the bleeding wounds, the crown of thorns, the three mysterious expressions, the shining tear falling from the nose. As I photographed the sculpture carried in procession through the streets of the town, in each shot a vision was created within me that took me back to the moment when the sculptor, Fra Umile Pintorno da Petralia, in 1936 carved and sculpted that wood with his own hands, to which today we approach with such respect and emotion to contemplate all its poignant beauty.

Francesco presents an artistic rendering of a traditional Christian procession that takes place in his home town Cutro.

The statue of the Crucifix of Cutro is the work of the Sicilian sculptor, Fra Umile da Petralia and dates back to 1630.  It reflects the characteristics of the representation of the drama of Christ on the cross according to the dictates of the Counter-Reformation period. Fra Umile’s wooden statuary also reflects the Franciscan culture of the period and is motivated by the depiction of Christ by Spanish sculptors and painters. The Cutro Crucifix has three facial expressions: smiling, agonised and dead. This is a sign of unparalleled sculptural skill and an emblematic humanistic power of vision of a life in its various moments. The Cutro Crucifix goes beyond all epochs; it is a narrative testimony to the piety and poignant tenderness and emotionality that grips the human soul when faced with the act of the Crucifixion. And Cutro is devoted to its Crucifix, and since 1861 the feast has been celebrated there. So every year there is a minor feast, while every seven years there is the so-called ‘great’ feast, indicating it as an extraordinary event. (Extract translated from Italian from a publication by Giuseppe Condello, Frate Umile da Petralia e il Crocifisso di Cutro. Segno storico e segno teologico, published by Youcanprint, 2013)

To read the full text you can visit Francesco´s website. In summary, the history of the feast of the Cutro crucifix procession dates back to the 1800s. According to a story passed down from one generation to the next, when in 1854 a drought struck the village of Cutro, it is said that prayers of the peasants in front of the crucifix for rain, and the longed-for rain arrived. In 1857, on the other hand, there was too much rain, and after the peasants had prayed to the crucifix the rain is said to have stopped. In this farming society consequently religious faith was taken to ensure protection from calamity, and so a tradition of processions arose, and it is now closely tied to the cultural heritage of the people of Cutro.

Click on the photos to see a larger image with its title. Some images may be cropped for layout.


We strongly encourage you to take a look at Francesco´s website to also see the paintings and other photographic projects. You can also check out his Instagram page.