Curated by Serena Trinchero
“Be patient, for the world is broad and wide”
Edwin A. Abbot’s Flatland
The drawings of Raffaele Di Vaia affirm with a wry smile the limitations of people and their inability to understand the whole. Even the artist’s attitude towards the works exhibited in FLAT is to test and probe the physical and the mental by pursuing a line of enquiry where impossible seriality and endless cataloging aim to prove that nothing is more inscrutable than that which is always with us.
Di Vaia’s works might best be described as wound around themselves. They cling to a self-referentiality that almost cancels out the scientific nature of the artist’s working method – a situation, which constantly puts the viewer in a kind of crisis with images that, thanks also in large part to his literary references, always reveal a dual nature. The new works differ from previous works by focusing more on the real (as there is a focus on both sky and earth). Though he definitely maintains the strengths that have always characterized his works in the medium of drawing by depicting representational subjects.
The biggest challenge in his new work is the attempt by Di Vaia to catalogue the stars – a paradigm of an impossibility that over time has stimulated people to make new discoveries regarding our consciousness. Bodies (2016) is a work that was initially inspired by the constellations and the legends of stories pertaining to women who realized over time how to associate the color of the stars to their old age. The works consist of a single mark on a void – a black sheet of paper. This mark is accompanied by the name of the star according to the artist’s cataloguing technique, which was inspired by Johann Bayer who was a German astronomer and author of the first star atlas between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. One question that results from analyzing Di Vaia’s process relates to the relationship between cartography and the human experience. Which one comes first? And what is the relationship between plane geometry and the three dimensional world? Edwin A. Abbott (1838-1926) attempts to give an answer to such questions in the mathematical fairytale titled Flatland (1882) in which he describes a revealing encounter between a pentagon and a sphere. This description resembles the way Di Vaia transforms a place into a language and an abstract space with its own laws. This formal exercise carried out by the artist represents the visible and is thus a means and an agent that provides the ability to track, like in a game for children, endless new constellations. New drawings and new stories are born from this illusory scientific study.
A point, the minimum degree of representation, is the zero from which everything is generated and departs. It is the primal drive that reveals its true nature through painstaking technique and observation. Zero (2016) is the scanning of one of the stars that make up Body (2016), a point that shows its internal explosion. Similar to that of an atomic structure, which also reveals an explosive force that opens the field to new speculation, to a new infinity that one can fathom.
Every series, every attempt, even if unrealistic, emerges like a speculative journey. A situation that is similar to that which happens in Da Plaza Constitución verso calle Garay (2016) which is a work by Di Vaia inspired by L’Alph. The work, made up of sections of a map of Buenos Aires (Plaza Constitución in calle Garay), traces a path on the wall that the viewer is invited to follow, one that separates two points of the city, which is only permissible to imagine – a path that by synecdoche attempts to represent a map of the entire world. The starting point being a starting point from which all things are returning and to which all things end as in The Aleph by Borges: the beginning, the whole thing, the end.
An interesting coincidence occurs, therefore; between the point and the infinite, between the minimum and the universal. The more the artist underlines the incapacity to generate something new and to understand the whole, the more his trust in reducing the artistic gesture to a minimum allows one to contemplate the infinite possibilities of drawing. And once one has accepted the illusionistic rules of illusion and language that govern the game of representation the drawing has the possibility of becoming another universe. Every work is in relation to one another in an continuous and swirling concatenation that leads us deeper and deeper into the infinite. Every vision, every repetition is like an anchor in a wall, which is also akin to an enless imaginary phrase where Di Vaia entrances and traps us with no way out.
October 28 – November 17, 2016
mon-fry 10:00 am – 9:00 pm – free entrance
SRISA Gallery of Contemporary Art – Santa Reparata International School of Art
Via San Gallo 53r, 50129 Firenze