Alberto di Fabio, Photo Alessandra Morelli, Courtesy Alberto di Fabio ©
Starting from Rome at the end of the 80s with a collective exhibition at the Alessandra Bonomo gallery, he comes into contact with prominent artists such as of Sol LeWitt, Alighiero Boetti, Cy Twombly from whom he learns and receives support and encouragement. In the 90s, he meets several exponents of the American abstract expressionism in New York where he also meets Larry Gagosian, who buys four of his paintings. Since then he begins a fruitful collaboration with the American gallery owner, by whom he is still represented (solo show at Gagosian – Beverly Hills, 2004; London, 2002, 2007; New York, 2010; Athens, 2011; Geneva, 2014). His works have been exhibited all over the world, in museums, public institutions and private collections, at the Beijing Biennale in 2005 and at the Dublin Contemporary exhibition, hosted by the National Gallery of Dublin in 2011. Worth mentioning are also his personal exhibitions at Galerie Vedovi, Brussels, 1996 and 2003; Galerie Jan Wagner, Berlin, 2001; Briggs Robinson Gallery, New York, 2002; Galerie Steinle, Monaco 2005 and 2008; Mambo, Bologna, 2012; National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome, 2013; Macro in Rome in 2015.
Alberto di Fabio, Photo Daria Paladino, Courtesy Alberto di Fabio ©
Alberto di Fabio is interviewed by Editor in Chief Alice Zucca
You tackle the creative process in a cathartic way, starting from a horizontal movement, but that is able to initiate a series of vertical motions. A meditative evolution that through a meticulous and methodical commitment to the Cartesian approach (from the order and the positioning of the mosaic tiles, to the embroidery and the pictorial gesture) is almost a ritual that, starting from the investigation of what is not ordered – the ‘”Unknown”, the “chaos”, the “cosmos” – has a clarifying function, elevating the mind. An elevation through the path of connections with the harmonies of space and time. Being methodical, you climb that mountain (an element that is present since the beginning of your production), analyze its composition, studying the peaks on which you rest while climbing, trying to understand the physical and non-physical laws thanks to which they could support you up until the summit, from the which you can finally guess the mystery beyond the horizon, discovering that you are part of it. In a process that feels like something that would encapsulate the line of thought of Novalis, that looks at scientific progress, no longer just at the earth beneath our feet on which we walk and at that sky on our heads under which we stand, but at us becoming part of that earth, and us as part of that sky. Thus natural forms, biological structures, molecules, ecological and astral systems to the genetic structure of DNA coexist in your micro-worlds, that enclosing larger worlds from the object of the “artwork”, continue beyond it and from the physical media give a sense of harmony and connection, of a totalizing relationship between the spirit and the scientific reality. How is it that the deceives to us and the soul connects us with the quantum universe? Can you tell me about the creative process?
▲ Alberto di Fabio’s studio 2015 – Photo Giorgio Benni, Courtesy Alberto di Fabio ©
▼ Alberto di Fabio, Spazio Luce #2, 2010, Courtesy Alberto di Fabio ©
A few years ago at the CERN, the world’s largest laboratory for Particle Physics, where scientists use particle accelerators to conduct experiments to research high-energy physics, you’ve managed to gain unanimous appreciation for your ideas and for your artistic research by the most distinguished scientists in the world. Can you tell me about this rewarding experience?
I started drawing and painting landscapes as a child. Being born and raised in Abruzzo, the mountains represent for me the elevation from the earthly world, an image of purity, a divinity necessary for the elevation of the spirit. Later I devoted myself to reading scientific books, those of my mother Delia, teacher of science and mathematics, and of my sister Simona who studied medicine. From them I copied the cells and other illustrations of biology chemistry and physics. Through the visions of the landscape of the macrocosm I entered the “magma”. I was interested in mineralogy, in the composition of silicas, quartzes and gases. All these things gave birth to my love for science in relation to the spirit. In 2010 the astrophysicist Remo Ruffini found many similarities between my works and the world of contemporary quantum physics focused heavily on the discovery of the antimatter and of the Higgs boson, the God particle. Many of my cosmological works on galaxies are similar to the last photographs taken from the NASA telescope, Hubble. He put me in touch with many astrophysicists and then I received the prestigious invitation from CERN in Geneva to do an exhibition and a conference.
It was an occasion that did nothing but materialize the virtual dialogue that I had ideally established with the international study center many years before. At the CERN in Geneva there are the greatest mathematicians and astrophysicists… in the world. They are very interested in my work about our mind, about the hemisphere of imagination, spirituality and the perception of the invisible. Imagination and creativity are not a simple exercise, in fact we never develop enough the oneiric part of our brain. Einstein always said that when you approach the truth of a formula it always appears veiled by a new problem.
The rational hemisphere cannot solve the formula alone. A great and important astrophysicist told me: “we invited you here, to hear things that we mathematicians can’t see”. It was a very fascinating experience.
▲ Alberto di Fabio, Realtà Paralle, 2012 installation view at Galleria Nazionale D’Arte Moderna e contemporanea, Roma
▼ Alberto di Fabio in NYC – Photo Skino Ricci, Courtesy Alberto di Fabio ©
What are you working on at the moment?
News? Future projects?
I am dreaming of describing the existence of God with a mathematical formula… naturally painting it.
For the years to come I would like to be able to paint and represent antimatter. But unfortunately they are just dreams…
You are right when you say that the mind deceives us and the soul connects us with the quantum universe. How can we perceive and describe the invisible? Through the Elevation and Permutation of the spirit.
My works are like vehicles of consciousness that introduce us into a parallel, dreamlike world, and describe the moment when our mind becomes our soul. We, as human beings, are not made only of matter, we are not just physical, we are energy in movement. We are bodies of light composed of different layers that interpenetrate and rotate around the physical body.
I often paint in a horizontal position, as if it was a mandala. In this position I try to gather all the emotions of spirituality, science and art, the three elements of a prayer. They are like exercises of elevation and permutation for the knowledge and the revelation of the absolute dogma that I try to convey to the observer.
My dream precisely comes out through my forms, the many chromatic veils of colors and the subtle geometric dynamics between the individual elements, is to involve the viewer in the extrasensory kinetic visions that lead to a progressive loss of self-consciousness, a sort of visual trance, traveling to a dream world to parallel worlds far away in space and time, closer to the quantum essence of the Universe, to the perception of hearing and seeing the cosmic dance of the universe. Matter becomes evanescent and the mind finds a possible conjunction with the astral element.
We can witness a change in the state of the human from the physical nature to the ethereal, in a sort of permutation and elevation of the soul. My works are like prayers, infinitely repeated mantras. I often repeat the same formulas in order to arrive through the concept of cosmic dance to an absolute meditative state within which we are atoms and at the same time gods.
▲ Alberto di Fabio, Alba della Materia, 2018, Courtesy Alberto di Fabio ©
▼ “20 minerali blu” 2000, installation view at Universita’ Bocconi , Milan 2012, Photo Paolo Tonato
The seemingly irreconcilable formal contrast between an abstract and gestural quality and the substantial pragmatism inspired by the scientific concreteness represents the most intriguing and suggestive peculiarity of your artistic production, which ranges from astronomy to biology, from macro to micro cosmos, exploring the various realities that can be examined, overturning perspectives suddenly and fearlessly. There is a clear similarity between the utopian and visionary connotation that feeds your artistic research and the curiosity and thirst for knowledge that characterizes the scientific investigation itself. And it is precisely between the incessant desire to understand the laws of the cosmos and the awareness of the ineluctable epilogue that sees us turning back again into stardust, that you try to make the concept of eternity explicit.
But can one make the eternal visible?
“I believe in a cosmic whole. I believe everything regenerates. We will become atoms again, we will go back into orbit”
Thanks to biology, through reproduction, which is one of the key factors of life, we can manifest our existence in the world. And if the purpose of life is to survive forever, it is precisely through what is biologically similar to us and that we share with creation that we manage to leave a trace of ourselves forever, in an infinite cycle of regenerations so vast that it includes all of creation. This makes me think of some experiments made by De Dominicis, of the attempts of Volo, and, even more, of Dennis Oppenheim, who reproduced by intuition on the wall the same drawing his son was drawing on his back explaining that the sharing of biological elements was the connection and the contact between a past state and a future state. “As Erik runs a marker along my back, I attempt to duplicate the movement on the wall. His activity stimulates a kinetic response from my sensory system. He is, therefore, drawing through me. Because Erik is my offspring, and we share similar biological ingredients, my back (as surface) can be seen as a mature version of his own…in a sense, he contacts his own future state.” and viceversa him drawing on the back of his son: “I am, therefore, drawing through him. Because Erik is my offspring, and we share similar biological ingredients, his back (as surface) can be seen as an immature version of my own….in a sense, I make contact with a past state.”
In light of this what is this cyclical nature of connections for you? How do you see this future state? What is the concept of stardust? Can you tell me about your approach to science, to biology, in relation to your philosophy?
I am fascinated by parallel worlds and matter that we do not yet see and how to perceive them and how to represent them. I dream of becoming different matter. I dream that the soul can approach the Magnetars, the Black Holes. We will return to dust, to stardust, we are atoms. I dream of becoming dust again. When we will become dust of atoms perhaps we will be able to recognize the quantum God and enter into the magnetic forces in dimensions of space and time that are completely different from what we perceive now. The three major forces in the universe are gravity, electromagnetism and the nuclear forces. What will we know about black holes if we don’t go through them? It is a mental journey into infinity, the dream of returning to an atom.
Everything is created by processes, fusions that stretch between order and disorder, the forces of gravity of magnetism and uncertainty are always present in my cosmo-logical works, where the term cosmos must be understood in its etymological sense of kosmos, that is, in its double meaning of order and ornament.
A formal synthesis, where elegance and harmony must paradoxically be reconciled with the instinct and intuition of the brush-bearer, which is by definition something indeterminate and indefinable, it is an observational and at the same time visionary cosmology. The oneiric dimension, represents the conceptual means to understand laws that would otherwise remain hidden, while the physical and concrete means can be identified in a pictorial gesture.
The oneiric vision, that overlaps with concrete reality, is the mirror of an personal subconscious aimed at an aesthetic and individual liberation of being. The pictorial gesture is a spiritual gesture necessary to capture that cosmic breath, that divine breath that is the basis of the incessant origin of life. Painting as an expressive means to narrate a dream, and the dream as an ideal state to examine from another point of view the unknown universe, a red thread that connects art, science and spirituality.