1969 – 2007: Il ritorno alle originiBack to his origins (1969–2016)
He was at the height of his expressive force. His interest in architecture and his need to experiment required wide spaces and intense landscapes characterized by Mediterranean colours. The land of his childhood became his Promised Land, a place to return to, perhaps the land of his dream. It was not an easy choice, it matured gradually inside him. In the meantime, he often worked referring to architectonic environments: mosaics, sculptures, murals, frescos, where the element of mankind strongly dominated the scene. In 1969, Nik and Hiske arrived in Santa Barbara, in the Vallata del Torbido, few kilometres from the town of Mammola, where Spatari was born. Here they discovered the ruins of a Carthusian grange dating from the 10th century, and they decided to renovate the ancient settlement converting it into a park-museum-school-laboratory. It was a pioneering adventure, in an enchanting and aggressive South, which, at the same time, was primitive and hostile. However, their challenge continued. Paradoxically, his Dutch partner Hiske was the prop of the couple, and she was the one who supported Nik in the realization of his project. The Santa Barbara project developed among brambles and thornbushes, supported by the contribution of voluntary workers, but also hindered by bureaucratic obstructions. The artist-architect fought with the determination that only a person who strongly believes in art and in its cathartic and liberating function may have.
He devoted most of his energies to the development of MUSABA: a project of meetings, internship, projects and environmental, architectonic and artistic works. In 1973, Nik and Hiske inaugurated the event “Struttura Ambiente”, which was to become one of the main features of the history of MuSaBa. Their aim was to enhance land and environment through sculpture-structure. Spatari was the main producer of the monuments designed by artists throughout the world for the new Artistic Park. His artistic-architectonic skills and technique allowed him to transform drawings and models into structural monumental works (made with “poor” materials”) of unusual beauty and which were in perfect harmony with the surrounding environment.
At MuSaBa, they organized, with Pierre Restany, an international meeting on the relationship between art, architecture and environment, where some of the main contemporary artists took part. He involved Zevi, Bonito Oliva, Gallo, Portoghesi, Burri, Schifano and Rotella.
He took part in the 10th Quadrennial in Rome and had solo shows in Toronto, Montreal, Amsterdam, London, Brussels, Kopenhagen, Zurich, Geneva, Venice, Milan, Turin, Bologna, Florence, and Palermo. From varnish and enamel, he moved to nitre, which was more suitable for the frottage technique and for his new subjects. In this period he worked on big canvases, i.e. “Cavalieri extraterrestri” (Extraterrestrial Knights) and “donne-idolo” (Idol-women) from the Sumerian mythology.