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“La Casa di Ortega”, realised by the Fondazione Zétema from Matera, has been designed with the twofold objective to provide documentary evidence of the presence in Matera of the great Spanish artist Josè Ortega and to promote the rediscovery and the enhancement of the local craft tradition. The exhibition rooms house the works created by Ortega in the seventies during his staying in Matera, and then left to his friends of the “Circolo La Scaletta”. The 20 works are a sort of polychrome bas-relief which form the two narrative series of “Passarono” and “Morte e nascita degli innocenti”. Ortega painted these works with the help of the master craftsmen from Matera using the very ancient papier-mâché technique in an innovative way. These paintings are the thread of the project which aims to highlight the importance of the link between noble art and ancient trades. To emphasise this fruitful relationship, the rooms, divided according an ideal domestic purpose (dining room, bedroom, living room, kitchen) have been embellished with furniture and decorations made by local craftsmen. These fine manufactures frame the works of the Spanish maestro creating a sort of dialogue which attracts the visitor’s attention for the harmonious naturalness by which the parts interact. In this perspective the manufactures made by the ceramic artist Giuseppe Mitarotonda, who has been one of the closest collaborators of Josè Ortega, play a very important role. ortega

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“La Casa di Ortega” is situated in the Sasso Barisano in “Via San Nicola del Sole”, a street which follows the perimeter of the ancient walls of the town. The building, which dates back to XVII century, was built on an ancient Longobardic fortalice in an overlooking position with a great environmental splendor. In the late seventeen century the whole building was converted with the enlargement of the rooms on the east corner and the building of the entrance portal and of the balcony embellished by mullions. The house, following the acts of the redevelopment of the Sassi, was abandoned by the people who had lived in and remained uninhabited for over thirty years. In the seventies a part of the building was bought by the Spanish artist Josè Ortega and, after his death, his heirs authorized the donation of the property to the Fondazione Zétema with the obligation to house a museological center. Thanks to the recovery plan, now it has acquired a qualified cultural function being saved from deterioration and abandon.
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To create the series “Passarono” and “Morte e nascita degli innocenti” Ortega tests to give his panting three-dimensionality by using the papier-mâché technique. Together with “the papier-mâché masters” from Matera, the artist creates terracotta bas-relief and then he gets plaster casts where the paper impasto is moulded; then the works are fixed on a wooden framework and finally painted. Colours are very important in the art of Ortega. They are bright and expressed with clear and bold brushworks, which lend an aura of sacredness to a traditional poor and recyclable material. The chromatic choices take on a central semantic value: the white and the yellow, the colours of life and spring-flowering; the red of passion and tragedy, of the flag and the blood; the black of death and military uniforms; the violet of martyrdom; the blue of the fist and rebellion. The artist translates with a unique and unmistakable style the teachings of other well-known predecessors: the gloomy atmosphere from El Greco, some themes from Goya, the anatomical deformations from Picasso, the masses of colours and the lines from Mirò. The bas-relief tell about the conflicts, evil and dictatorship which in every country and in every time oppress humanity whose redemption occurs thanks to passion and fight in an unceasing sequence of cycles of death and birth.
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Tuesday to Friday only for booking (at the number +39 3669357768) in this hours: 11.30 and 12.30.
Saturday and Sunday: from 10.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. (ticket office is open untill 1.30 p.m.)

Casa Ortega is close on Monday (except on holiday)

Tuesday to Saturday, from 10.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. (ticket office is open untill 1.30 p.m.).

Casa Ortega is close on December 25th, January 1th and July 2th. 


Regular: € 5,00
Reduced:  € 3,50 (aged 7-25)
Free entries: children till 6

If you visit the Casa Ortega you can have the reduced ticket (€ 3.50) at MUSMA till the day established on your ticket.


How to find us
From Piazza del Sedile o da Via delle Beccherie reach Piazza Duomo.
Take the steps beneath the wall overlooking the Sasso Barisano and proceed along via Gradoni Duomo.
At the end of the descent, when the street forks, turn right (Via S. Nicola del Sole) in the direction of the Torre Metellana.

Follow Casa Ortega:
Casa Ortega
via San Nicola del Sole (Sasso Barisano)
Coop. Synchronos
tel. + 39 3669357768
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