January 24 - March 24, 2019

Padiglione 9A

curated by Giovanna dalla Chiesa

Fosco Valentini’s journey is an imaginary trek on the confines of Science and Magic, Myth and History, Philosophy and Religion, seeking the suppressed part of humankind, to achieve a unity ever poised between the remote past and the ongoing mutation towards the future that deforms and distorts its outlines. While at the close of the 19th century, thanks to the balloon the view of the world could be encompassed, growing increasingly remote, here the eye of the imagination rises above the ground to delve into other territories and planets, casting a bridge between far-off dissimilar realities that, through an effect of cross-breeding, intersect and combine in the constant metamorphosis of VISION.
Whether involving Paracelsus, Kepler or Spinoza, it is nonetheless always the figure of Fosco Valentini that appears like a demiurge, intercepting the levels of reference, breaking the rules, and shuffling the cards like a conjurer, to subvert the order of things and reveal the undecipherable and unfamiliar aspects of reality that, according to the artist, resemble, after all, the historical period in which we are living. Instinctively drawn to the optical processes that were handed down for ages as a magic and secret doctrine, Valentini reveals hidden figures, thanks to the extreme foreshortening of the vision or its mirrored reflection, either through anamorphic processes, or using lenticular technologies, adding extravagance and wonderment of perception and surprising its secret imaginary while sustaining at once the impulse to travel. Once again body and mind wish to meet and be joined, even at the cost of tortuous vicissitudes, ending a centuries-long separation, but first we must relinquish the old body to the earth like a foul slough that only prevents us from bounding into the cosmos, freely taking flight, like animal species without any knowledge, solely moved by our own regained life instinct.

This exhibition, at the former Mattatoio (Slaughterhouse) in Rome, is Fosco Valentini’s first true one-man show. A Roman, already transplanted to Switzerland in 1989, trained in the elitist circles of figures as opposed – and yet perhaps complementary – as those of Aldo Braibanti (philosophy, theatre, film, poetry, ecology) and Alighiero Boetti (extra-European cultures, Eastern religions, taxonomy, ars combinatoria, mnemonics, magic). It begins with the small pictures of signs urging to relaxation and leisure, pleasure and travel – already at the time shifting sheer consumerist hints towards a dream world – and then unfolding throughout the 1990s, with the portraits of memory, to approach in the 2000s the anamorphic pictures, the first videos and lenticulars, and the crucial turning point of the dialogue between word and image, where drawing takes over, becoming  the fulcrum of the artist’s imaginary; drawing that does not yield an inch to illustration, even when inspired by figures or episodes in history, but is sheer invention and conception in keeping with a unique method of interpretation where fragments of various times, of collective or individual realities, merge with those of his own memory and identity – real or merely conjectured –, constantly crossing the boundaries of the possible and the probable.
Fosco Valentini, among all the artists who adopted the lenticular, is the only one to draw directly without using photography, playing between surface and depth, with disparities recalling those of a hallucination.
The cycles devoted to the Somnium di Keplero (2012), Paracelso (2016), and Spinoza (2018), the Optical and the Pompeiani (2013), memorable for their diaphanous mobility, in entering our retina stimulate the subliminal memory of historical or archetypal images; video animation, drawn in pencil – Sol Lapis Philosophorum (2011) – stages the boundless extension in a backward journey towards the embryonic stage of humankind; the Solidi. Onde di probablilità (2018) – tribute to the Etica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata by Baruch Spinoza, of whom Valentini presents here the first book devoted to the philosopher by an artist (Fontana edizioni, Lugano) – represent the variable aimed at modulating relations between Passion and Reason; Il Fumo (Smoke) (2014) which, blown onto symbols of prohibition, erases their existence; the red LED writing that assures us that here everything is GRATIS (Free) (2013); the talking picture that, between anger and laughter, pronounces the sentence ”I am a free man”; the mystery of the stars and the cosmos that looms over everything contributes to shape an unstable universe, where doubt, melancholy, and human anguish face up to challenge, chance, and risk that the sacrifice represented by the artist’s dismembered body – Nulla succede per la prima volta (Nothing Happens the First Time) (2012) – may alone contribute to heal with the dissipation, the gap, and the compensation inherent to the “gift” performed through the ancient ritual of art.

Fosco Valentini (Rome 1954) trained in Rome in the years of the great debate between painting, Arte Povera, and Conceptual Art. His friendship and close collaboration with Alighiero Boetti and the philosopher Aldo Braibanti shaped his conception of art in the sense of a 360° opening onto various aspects of knowledge. He took part in the Surrealist-style ideological experiment of the Ufficio per l’Immaginazione preventiva created by Tullio Catalano and Maurizio Benveduti in the late 1970s, yet without giving up his interest in painting and the visual arts. In 1989 he moved to Lugano where he developed his own artistic transition towards a philosophy of vision, expressed in the complete freedom of the chosen means – ranging from anamorphic painting to video, lenticular technology to installations and traditional sculpture –, with drawing as its fulcrum.

The galleries with which he worked in Italy include: Galleria Alessandra Bonomo, Rome (1980 – 1985; 1996); Galleria Zona, Florence (1983); Franz Paludetto, Turin (1984); Corrado Levi, Milan; Pio Monti, Rome (1985); Marilena Bonomo, Bari (1989); Galleria Majorana, Brescia (1990); Galleria Brera 1, Corbetta - Milan (2010); Nowhere Gallery, Milan (2012); Galleria Toselli, MiArt (2013). Abroad: Galleria De Ambrogi, Basel Fair (1989); Hell, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Martigny (1993; 1994 - 1999); Hellbound 93 RMX, Veragouth Arte Contemporanea, Lugano (1998); Galleria Barbara Mahler (2000 – 2010); Kunsthalle Lugano, Lugano (2010 - 2011). He participated in the X Quadriennale Nazionale d’Arte: La Nuova Generazione (Rome 1975); and the 54th Biennale di Venezia, Istituti Italiani di Cultura in the world – Padiglione Italia, Kulturhaus Helferei, Zürich (2011).