On the outside, Four Points looks exactly like what it is, a hotel. In front of the sea of Aci Castello, it has a pleasant and original architecture, on several levels with staggered wings, the result of the imagination of the architect Willi Ramstein. When you cross the glass sliding doors, though, it is clear that this is not a hotel like the others.
When you step into the hall, the first thing you notice is the long white wall shaped by Agostino Bonalumi (1983), forming the background of the reception desk. A little further on, a large space welcomes the bar and a tub full of greenery, next to which two glass elevators are set in lava stone walls decorated by Urano Palma. In front of the elevator doors, the first thing you see is “Contaminations” a large canvas by Mark Kostabi and Enrico Baj (1992). If, on the other hand, you decide to take the stairs, you will find yourself among the works of the FON art gallery, the exhibition space of the Oelle Foundation, where at the moment you can see, among other things, some works by Nobuyoshi Araki: 19 “Flowers”, floral compositions from the very early Nineties, and twelve large-format works of the recent series “Araki Paradise”, still in progress.
Four Points was built by Agatino Laneri and inaugurated in 1983. Today it is owned by his children Ornella, Fabio, and Nicola and, since 2017, it hosts the headquarters of the Foundation, the creature of Ornella, a hotelier by chance who has decided to reunite her passion for contemporary art with the hospitality business.
Suites and works of art
Ornella Laneri walks fast. She has the unhesitating stride of the determined person and she never stays in one place for long. In all senses. While she was telling me about the Suite of Love, the Foundation’s most recent project (a suite, inside the hotel, intended as a residence for artists, the first of which has been the Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, whose shots will be exhibited until next July 15), she was already out of the suite to tell me about the Horto, the first synergic vegetable garden in a large hotel, a project for which she won the SMAU Milano 2017 Innovation Award.
Among low bushes of herbs and an avocado tree, she explained to me that the sounds we hear are precisely those of the “garden”, captured thanks to an innovative machine designed by her son Michele Spadaro, a sound engineer. The data of light, temperature, wind, and humidity are captured and transformed into sound impulses, always different.
All guests can visit the Horto, whose products are used in the kitchen by the chef of the restaurant. It is also possible to book a “table in the Horto”, a sort of chef’s table moved between lettuce and mint bushes, where you can choose which vegetable you prefer on the menu.
To sleep in art
It is also possible to visit the art suites or decide to sleep in them. The “ONE-O-ONE Contemporary Art Suite” of which I wrote earlier, where at the moment there are a thousand Polaroids, 27 unpublished photographs selected from Araki’s production of the Eighties and Nineties and the entire 1996 series entitled “Suicide in Karuizawa “; and the Phil Stern Suite, named after the American photographer who stayed there for about two weeks in 2013, when he returned to Sicily for the first time after landing in Gela during the Second World War.
The occasion for his return after 70 years was the inauguration of the personal exhibition of unpublished photographs on the war on the island. Stern took advantage of this to visit the places where he had been, a journey resulting in the project “Phil Stern. Welcome back to Sicily ”promoted by Ornella Laneri together with Ezio Costanzo and Carmelo Nicosia.
Let’s go to Catania
Stern’s shots and those documenting the journey are collected in the Pavilion dedicated to him, 700 square meters that the Foundation has created inside the Museum of the Landing in Sicily 1943 in Catania.
Here there also are historical illustrative panels, posters, and a collection of photographs depicting the young Phil and some of his shots taken during his later photographic career. After the war, Stern specialized in photos of Hollywood stars and portrayed, among others, James Dean, Frank Sinatra, and Marilyn Monroe.
The harbor is not far from the museum and so I easily reach Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Terzo Paradiso, still an initiative of the Foundation. The work is set up on a barge moored at the very long pier Molo Foraneo di Levante, from where the entire skyline of Catania opens up to view, with the always smoking cone of Etna in the background. The installation is the first and only one created with plastic waste recovered from the sea and made in water, bringing the theme of marine pollution from plastic waste to the fore.