Through a new lens: how Belmond writes local art histories

Working alongside Belmond, international art agency Artiq firmly believes in the power of art outside the traditional gallery space and its unique potential to convey local stories in ways that connect with global audiences…

work by Taormina-based painter Alessandro Florio at Villa Sant’Andrea

According to a recent report by Bloomberg, art and design are more important than ever to the post pandemic traveller. This doesn’t come as a surprise – after being confined to our homes for such a long time, the past few years have left us all searching for new experiences while having reinforced our appreciation for beautiful spaces. That, combined with art’s rise as an asset class, is compelling more guests to look at the art in hotels much like their wine menu; it’s a judgement of taste.

Hotel group Belmond has been working with Artiq to further connect with its locations and is fully embracing the power of art in this process as its global properties are taking on characteristics of cultural hubs, offering art not only as a luxury asset but as a means for their guests to learn about local histories and connect with local communities through a different lens, tapping into each destination’s essence and beauty.

Arial view of Grand Hotel Timeo and the Greek Theatre of Taormina

Image credit: Belmond

Taormina is a small town located on Sicily’s east coast. With spectacular views of both the Mediterranean sea and Mount Etna, it is an exclusive destination for visitors looking to immerse themselves in its rich history while enjoying the pleasures of this first-class Ionian sea resort which is home to two Belmond properties.

Grand Hotel Timeo, A Belmond Hotel, Taormina, was the first hotel to be built in the town, opening its door to guests in 1873. Perched high on a hill with stunning views of the valley below, the hotel is located next to the ancient Greek theatre of Taormina, one of the world’s best-known and most admired amphitheatres, built in the 3rd century BC and later transformed by the Romans to make room for games and gladiatorial battles.

Mimmo Jodice photography on the walls at Grand Hotel Timeo

Image credit: Belmond / Artiq

Today, Grand Hotel Timeo combines old-world grandeur with a cosmopolitan spirit. Thanks to the generous cooperation of Vista Mare and Gallerie Karsten Greve, Artiq procured a collection of photographic works by the iconic Mimmo Jodice. A contemporary of Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys, Jodice is an Italian avant-garde photographer who, since the 1970s, has pushed the discourse of Italian fine art photography. He has exhibited at the Guggenheim in New York and Louvre Museum in Paris and he is collected by leading art institutions and museums across the globe, such as the San Francisco and Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art and Milan’s Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea.

Belmond has now joined them as a collector of Jodice, with a selection of photographs depicting Roman sculptures in a mythical yet intimate way on display in the grand entrance hall. The installation tells the story not only of Italy’s fascinating ancient period in Taormina and the Mediterranean but also of Italy’s modern art history.

Down towards the coastline, Villa Sant’Andrea, A Belmond Hotel, Taormina Mare, has been enchanting guests since the 1950s. The beach residence, located right on the seafront, oozes old-world glamour and is quintessentially Sicilian. Artiq worked alongside the internationally acclaimed Eric Egan of L’Artigianato and the Belmond team to procure a fully bespoke art collection, highlighting emerging talent from the local area, resulting in an art collection that echoes the history and traditions of the region through a contemporary lens.

Taormina-based painter Alessandro Florio started his career as a tattoo artist but expanded his practice to include works on canvas. Nine original works by Alessandro were commissioned for the restaurant and lounge area. This body of work draws inspiration from eclectic sources, ranging from the art of the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, combining visual symbols and cultural references between Sicily and the Arab heritage in a playful, sometimes irreverent way.

By collecting from the past and the present, Belmond is preparing for the future. Established and emerging artists are presented side by side, ensuring the brand stays timeless yet relevant. And by shining a spotlight on emerging talent locally at this time will, in the future, tell the story of Sicily’s creative scene in the early 21st century in the same way that Jodice’s works are reminiscent of the modern era. It also opens up new funding routes to the arts as artists are being paid to show their work in new spaces and given platforms to engage with new audiences.

Collecting art is to write the history of a particular time and place. By collecting diverse art with local relevance, Belmond is forging a connection between its brand, its locations, and its guests, ensuring the opportunity for future generations to learn about their location’s artistic legacies.

Artiq is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our Recommended Suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Artiq / Alessandro Florio at Villa Sant’Andrea