Meeting with Fabio Viale
interview Alessandro Calabrese, photo courtesy Fabio Viale
Fabio, you’re a marble working virtuoso using languages from different spheres. Looking at your works you can’t help but notice a mixture of elements that are part of the history of art and other related contemporary forms such as tattoos. How did you come to this solution, and what relationship do you have with historical art?
I really like the Greeks. I find that their abstract sculptures can be defined either from a formal point of view but also from a perceptual point of view, just going to Greece and visiting the ruins we understand that those works could have only been made under that sky, they were a faithful mirror to a world that today we can imagine what it was like through what’s left of it. My sculpture is born from a similar principle, I work using the words that my time has given me.
You made the first marble motor boat, entitled “Ahgalla”, which won you the Premio Cairo. Was this the turning point of your career or looking back you see your path as just homogeneous growth? Do you think that your early underground career culture has given you a “push from below” and helped you out?
I do not think we can talk about the term career like we do in sports. My work has always been this: I get up in the morning I go to the studio, I dust myself and go home. The awards, exhibitions, small successes often lead to envy and negative energy, but it’s part of the game and it’s better to win than to participate. In the studio when you decide to take or make new roads daring yourself to achieve something new, you’re happy and you understand that you’re on your way.
Tell us about your creative process: Do you usually have an image in your head and work on how to achieve it? Or do you have a concept in mind, an emotion you want to express and it takes shape along the way?
Everything comes from a stimulus, from a necessity … Each sculpture has its own history, its own anecdotes, I like that they are there but I also like that the sculpture has a life while you’re making it … There are certain pieces that can take everything out of you, that don’t work, the ones where the image in your head, the one you want to achieve, never emerges. These moments are when you realize what you do is not a pleasure but a struggle… The sculpture is always a question, you must alway be on guard.
When someone says “contemporary art” it’s easy to connect to conceptual art, while your work seems to aim at involving and impacting the viewer more. Today, what can the public expect when they go to art galleries?
There isn’t an audience at galleries anymore… Now only critics ad artists go to exhibitions… The public, the masses, are now resigned to the concept of contemporary art, the sensation of boredom mixed with sadness that invades you when you go into those white rooms… It’s really rare to get excited! Then, if you paid for the ticket you might be angry, and then next time just go to the movies. My work is very different for that reason.
We know that you’ve displayed in galleries such as Sperone (New York), Gagliardi and Domke (Turin) and Poggiali and Pitchforks (Florence). What is the role of art galleries and what is your relationship with the city in which you reside, Turin, in terms of visibility?
The galleries were places where you went to see the work of an artist, now they’ve become more like a fair or a public exhibition. They are still and will remain a place where you place a spell on those who come in, like in a church, the viewer is seduced, he is convinced that what they are seeing is real and making the magic of art possible. And there are also those that translated the work into money, they can afford the realization of art and this is no small thing. In recent years I have not done anything in Turin … I tried to take part in Artissima but have been excluded and I think it will continue that way for quite some time.
Many artists entrust the realization of their works to others while you are a sculptor with “hands on the marble”. What do you think of this process and how important it is to work directly to the achievement of a work?
I believe that knowing how to do things with your own hands is the basis in creating a creative piece of work. The more you
do, the more it improves. The craftsmen are good people who suffer from the subjects that artists impose. Often they make them reluctantly, but it’s their job. What I do is on another level, it has nothing to do with the craft, but now there is no longer a culture that is able to see the differences and stimulate this approach.