Imagination is more important than knowledge.

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Art often blends the technology of today with the traditions of the past. Zagami has found inspiration for his thoughts and processes in this blend of the past and present. This combination has allowed Zagami to make connections to the future through various media.

What People Are Saying About Zagami’s Art

Dr. Kenworth Moffett

Director, Museum of Art

Director’s Statement

Although still a relatively small city, Fort Lauderdale already boasts many very good visual artists. Salvatore Zagami is one of the most accomplished of these. I noticed his sculpture when I first came to live in South Florida in 1989. The Museum of Art was able to acquire a large example of his work. Mamey 1, in 1993, a piece that has been much admired. Also a Zagami sculpture provided the frontispiece of the Museum’s “focus on Fort Lauderdale” group exhibition in 1992. So it is fitting that this first museum survey show of Zagami’s work be presented by the Museum of Art. We can all be proud that such an original and ambitious artist lives in our community.

Laurence Pamer

Curator of Exhibitions, Museum of Art

Zagami: A Quarter Century of Sculpture

As a sculptor, Salvatore Zagami’s main intent is to make us think, to raise new questions in our minds. Not that Zagami will provide answers to these questions; he is averse to assigning specific meanings to any of his pieces. Yet his works, often confrontational and emotionally gut-wrenching, demand that we stop, take notice, and contemplate.

Since the early 1980s, Zagami has been stimulating thought by juxtaposing or combining seemingly diverse, unrelated forms in a single piece. In Man’s Best Friend, for example, a dog’s muzzle replaces the breasts of a female torso. The immediate effects are absurd, outrageous, off beat. Yet such surreal juxtapositions evoke thoughts about serious contemporary women in male-dominated societies? Are men today reluctant to unleash women - who they sometimes have considered mere accessories - and to allow them to be independent force in society?

Zagami can even take something as innocuous as the ubiquitous “smiley” face - which has adorned countless buttons, T-shirts, and bumper stickers - and by replacing its eyes with human skulls, create a disturbing image which addresses the loss of security we have experienced recently in the modern world. Can we trust the smiling face which seems to beckon innocently? According to Zagami, by crating startling visual associations, he hopes to cause “the spectator to reach into his inventory of thoughts and then provoke some kind of referencing, either to himself or to society or even to the artist.”

Zagami’s work has not always been so provocative. In the early 1970s, as a sculptor fresh out of college, he used traditional media such as clay, plaster, and marble, and much of his work was abstract and thus more impressive for its spiritual rather than thought provoking qualities. Soon he discovered the possibilities of plastics. First, while it was in a liquid state, he swirled plastic with vibrant colors; then, when it solidified, he sculpted and polished it into massive rock-like forms, which he describes as “an integration of painting with sculpture.” Later, using a similar technique, he chemically “drew” colored lines in clear plastic to create three - dimensional, encapsulated spaces. These plastic pieces were experiments with pure form and color.

Although abstract work appears in Zagami’s oeuvre as late as 1987, around 1980 his sculpture started to become more representational. “Technique became secondary,” he explains. “Now I was interested in conveying concepts, sparking ideas.” He continued to work with plastic, but it now took on the look of steel, and he began to use a variety of media. In Crossing, he incorporated a found object - a traffic sign - with other sculpted forms, such as disembodied hands pierced with oversized bolts, to evoke religious connotations and to allude to the restrictions imposed on the individual in contemporary society.

Where do these quirky, unconventional associations come form? "Every sculpture has a point of departure that I come off of"' Zagami explains. “There are just certain things, events, everyday stimuli that cause the fleeting thought, the birth of the piece. But he doesn't begin sculpting spontaneously. “I have a thought about a piece” he continues, “but I don’t start it on the first day. It has to haunt me for a while. If it continues to haunt me, then I do it.” In his twenty-fifth year as a professional sculptor, Zagami continues to create stimulating work which, in turn, haunts us, his audience, long after we view it.

Sal Zagami

City Link
Jan 29 – Feb 4 2003

“I’ve worked with all media to find my personal expression,” says Fort Lauderdale’s Sal Zagami ,who now prefers to work with man-made materials. I like plastics, because of their versatility, and steel. I believe art is an expression of man. If you take a piece of marble, the beauty in it comes from nature, not the artist.”
Of his sculpture ”Jawbone,” which features a plastic bird, Zagami says,” I can make plastic look as technical as possible or as if it has the same qualities as clay,” says Zagami ”The material allows me to do it.”
For “Numerologist,” a mixed media sculpture of a male nude, Zagami was exploring his interest in numerology. ”It’s almost a satire,” he says, ” because we’ve all become numbers these days.”
The New York state native came to South Florida in 1971 to attend Marymount College (now Lynn University ) in Boca Raton. He became affiliated with the Carone Gallery in Fort Lauderdale after graduation.” I was represented by Matt Carone for 22 years, ”Zagami says.” I had a show with Roberto Matta in 1978. I can’t tell you how lucky I am. Carone had a great effect on my understanding of art.”
Last year, the artist opened Zagami Fine Arts in Fort Lauderdale. Today he says he is more concerned with promoting other artists than himself. It’s his goal to make the space a mini-museum by showcasing local and international art created from an inner need rather than a commercial motive. He also teaches ceramics and cinematography at Cypress Bay High School in Weston. "I’m someone who wants to advance the arts,” Zagami says. There aren’t a lot of people who want to do this. Maybe I can make a difference.”
Lately, he has been making forays into digital photography. ”What I like best about it is the immediacy of the concept,” he says. "I like spontaneity in art.”

Forum Artis

Contemporary International Art Magazine

Jan 1995 #6 USA (pg35)
Salvatore Zagami

Artist statement: my recent sculpture is a combination of state-of-the-art techniques, an integration of plastics and metals creating a material illusionsism as well as an intellectual statement. The imaginary deals with fragmented and figurative symbols that provide memory recall and cross-referencing which stimulate a variety of responses at different rates of comprehension.
Short biography:
Originally from upstate New York, Zagami has lived and worked in Florida and Venezuela. His work has been shown by Ivan Karp, one of New York’s most prestigious art dealers. He has had one-man shows in nationally and internationally known galleries, such as the mach Gilman gallery in Chicago, Carone gallery in Ft. Lauderdale, and gallery "G" in Caracas, Venezuela. Collectively Zagami’s sculpture has been exhibited along-side such contemporary masters as Roberto Matta and Conrad Marca-Relli. In 1983, Zagami was recognized by the president of Venezuela for his sculpture at the New Outdoor Museum – Andre Perez Mujica. Lowery Sims, curator of Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, awarded Zagami first prize in the 1986 "all Florida show" at the Boca Raton Museum. In 1988,his work formed a part of Broward County art in public places collection. In 1991,Salvatore Zagami received a $15,000.00 award from the South Florida Cultural Consortium and the National Endowment for the Arts, the largest local grant ever awarded to visual artists in Florida. The Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art and the Norton Gallery of Palm Beach have also exhibited his sculpture. In addition, Salvatore Zagami has been a teacher, juror and lecturer in the south Florida community. He now resides in Ft Lauderdale, Florida.