Toledo Station
Metro Line 1

Oscar Tusquets Blanca | 2012

The project of the Catalan architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca also affected the area above, transformed into pedestrian zone and upgraded aesthetically.
The communication between internal and external space is entrusted to the skylight-structures-that, from the street, carry the sunlight in the rooms below.
On the first undergound floor the remains of the walls of the Aragonese period are integrated into the architectural design, while the cast of a plowed field of the Neolithic, found during the excavations of the station is displayed at the Station Museum, in "Stazione Neapolis" in the corridor connecting with the National Archaeological Museum.
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In the coatings of this first level black predominates, an allusion to the asphalt of the contemporary city, which enhances the appearance of large mosaics by William Kentridge. The first is a long procession of dark figures, many of them inspired by the history of the city of Naples, led through music by the patron saint, San Gennaro. The background on which all the characters seem to pace slowly is the project for the Central Railroad for the city of Naples, 1906 (Naples Procession) which is also the title of the work. The second mosaic, located above the escalators, is titled Remediation of the slums of Naples in relation to the railway station, 1884 (Naples Procession). This time the design used for the background of the work is the famous first project for a subway in Naples, created by the versatile Lamont-Young.
Going down to another level, upholstery colors change and we see a bright yellow reminiscent of the warm colors of the earth and the Neapolitan tuff, up to the level 0, or the sea level, indicated by the transition to spectacular mosaics of a blue which is becoming more intense as we go deeper. 
This brings us to a monumental underground room, dominated by the charm of the oval mouth of the Crater de luz, a large cone that crosses in depth all levels of the station, connecting the street level with the spectacular hall built 40 meters underground. Looking inside you can recognize at the other end the sun and a fascinating interplay of LEDs governed by the software programmed by Robert Wilson (Relative light). On the walls of the hall "underground" we can admire the Olas, waves in relief designed by Oscar Tusquets Blanca, while proceeding within the tunnel overpass, we are surrounded by panels of the Sea by Robert Wilson, By the sea ... you and me, this is their title, light box with LED light made using the lens.
Men at work, a series of photos by Achille Cevoli on the walls near the fixed stairs, is dedicated to the theme of factory work, a tribute to those who made the excavation of the tunnels and the construction of the stations.
The second exit of Toledo station in largo Montecalvario is also enriched with works of art by internationally renowned artists.
Two long light-boxes by Oliviero Toscani run along  the moving walkways connecting the two exits. The work, entitled Razza Umana, is part of a photographic study on the morphology of human beings. Many of the photos included  in the Neapolitan installation, in some cases depicting the faces of public figures, have been shot in the squares of the city, others in other parts of Italy or the world, “to see - as explained by the same author – how we are, what face do we have, to understand the differences.  We take somatic fingerprints and capture the faces of humanity ”.
On the walls above the long stairway that leads to the upper levels black panels are installed with mirror silver typefaces by the American artist Lawrence Weiner, one of the leading exponents of conceptual art, which has made of the graphic value of the word its privileged means of expression.  Molten copper poured on the rim of the bay of Naples (Rame fuso colato sulle rive del golfo di Napoli) is the epigrammatic phrase, in English and Italian, that Weiner offers us in this case and which also gives its title to the work.  In it, the figurative force of verbal expression is accompanied by the presence of the graphic sign of a curved line, which seems to recall,  synthesizing it, the shape of the gulf.
Of an intense theatrical dramatic force is the installation of nine large portraits in black and white made by one of the most charismatic personalities of the contemporary scenario, Shirin Neshat, visual artist and filmmaker of Iranian origin.  For this work Neshat has chosen for the first time in her career Western subjects,  related to the environment of the Neapolitan theater, particularly to the Teatro Nuovo which is located just a few steps from Montecalvario, and the Teatro Instabile.  Among them we can recognize the actresses Cristina Donadio, Antonella Morea, Giovanna Giuliani and the artistic director of the Teatro Instabile, Michele Del Grosso. The title of the work – for which Shirin Neshat has partnered with the Neapolitan photographer Luciano Romano – is  Il teatro è vita. La vita è teatro - Don’t ask where the love is gone and explicits as much the inspiration to the correspondence relationship between the theatrical fiction and real life, as the desire to represent, through nine different expressions of the body, the feeling of loss and separation.
The Flying - Le tre finestre, by Ilya ed Emilia Kabakov, in ceramic of Faenza, is a large, airy panoramic vision that sees human beings soar in the sky with flocks of birds and airplanes. The choice of the subject has been explained by the couple of artists in this way: “The main problem of the people who come into a subway station and go down under the ground is that they lose the vision of the heaven that is over their heads”. Their work therefore returns to the visitor, through the images of the art, the lost view of the sky, giving a sense of freedom and happy lightness.
For the station entrance level Francesco Clemente, among the leaders of the world's art scene since the 80s with the art movement of Transavantgard, has realized Engiadina, a spectacular work in mosaic and ceramic, more than sixteen meters long, depicting a mountain landscape crossed by a “Clemente yellow” ceramic band, on whose background there is a parade procession of more than forty female figures, inspired by ancient Minoan era images of dancers found in the island of Crete. “The title of my mosaic – said Clemente – refers to the Engadine valley in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland, attended by the philosopher Nietzsche and the artist Segantini. I chose this valley because it is the last place where the Mediterranean light stops”. To realize Engiadina the Neapolitan artist, who has been living in New York for many years, has worked with the master potters of Vietri sul Mare and with Bruno Amman, specialist in stone mosaic, that, to achieve the full range of colours and light effects and the refined work, has selected more than one hundred different species of marble from around the world. 

Text | Maria Corbi

Photo | Peppe Avallone, ANM archive