“I see my role as one of cultural protection as well as creation … I’m a custodian of memories as well as an artist.”
~ Paolo Sandulli
For our second collaboration with Le Sirenuse, Positano’s ethereal cliffside hotel, we drew back the proverbial curtains of the hotel a little bit farther to focus on more intimate vignettes.
The focal point of one of these vignettes is Paolo Sandulli, a Campanian painter, sculptor, and poet who embodies the spirit of the Amalfi Coast with his whimsical works. He is a longtime friend of Le Sirenuse’s owners, the Sersales.
Since 1993, Paolo has worked and lived in nearby Praiano out of a medieval watchtower perched above the expansive Mediterranean. “Torre Assiola” has limestone walls almost 10 feet thick, guarding the bay from invasions for centuries. Paolo carries on this legacy, protecting the bay in his own way by channeling its ancient energies into his work to celebrate its culture.
“If there’s a force in my work,” Sandulli reflects, “it’s largely thanks to the place where they’re created.”
Le Sirenuse and Tombolo commissioned a painting by Paolo that was carefully packed up and shipped to New York City. Once there, it was scanned in high definition, digitally deconstructed and then pieced back together to map onto the pattern pieces of a shirt.
The carefully engineered shirt derived from Sandulli's painting is a joyous celebration of the Amalfi Coast. It features one of his characteristic bathing beauties swimming among Mediterranean dolphins that dive out of one pocket and into the other.
In June, we were given the opportunity to present Paolo with the shirt that we made from his painting at Torre Assiola. It was the happy culmination of a creative process that spanned months, mediums and an ocean. We were joined by our photographer, Paloma Saint Léger, and two Italian models who featured in our campaign, Martina Taglienti and Matteo Fiorentino.
Paolo’s works take many forms, but one of the most striking is his famed sea-sponge heads, which are inspired by the ladies of the Aragonese court sculpted by Francesco Laurana in the 15th century. His clay busts approach ideal female beauty with “a touch of irony and modernity,” in part achieved by the extravagant sea-sponge wigs he affixes to the heads. As part of the collaboration, Paolo created a charming sponge head especially for us that even wears a miniature 'Le Sirenuse x Tombolo' shirt.
As our visit concluded, a rare June storm rolled in and drenched the dry landscape along with Matteo’s change of pants and shoes for his flight home to Milan (sorry again, Matteo!). We bid our farewell to Paolo and made our way back up to the car park. Torrents of rainwater poured down the steps as we clambered our way back up using garbage bag ponchos to protect our precious ‘Paolo Sandulli’ shirt samples.
Paolo’s work expertly walks the line between character and caricature, all while channeling the sentimentality and wonder of the Amalfi Coast. We invite you to enjoy a peek into Amalfi life through the inspired gaze of a quintessential local and a magical hotel.
Explore the rest of the Le Sirenuse x Tombolo capsule below.