Alessandro Di Cola: Sutured Images
By Paul Gost
Alessandro Di Cola is an artist whose work captures memory, color and imagination and stitches it into a sublime moment for all eternity. Since his graduation from the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, the Italian painter and sculptor has shown his work at festivals and galleries around Italy, including the GlobArt Gallery and the Crocetti Museum. His work first appeared in the U.S. at New York’s Broadway Gallery in their September 2012 chapter of the Artists at Home and Abroad series, which features collections from up-and-coming artists. Most significant is that his work explores issues of materiality and the horizon with a deeply felt emotional undercurrent.
Di Cola’s work includes both paintings and sculptures that, despite their apparent lack of complete or distinct images, still seem to burst with life; di Cola attributes this effect to the idea that his pieces are “imbued with the nuances of the infinite.”
He compares his works to old pictures that have “passed through the wallets of several generations” but still retain their “essence,” a reminder of what they once were along with the changes they’ve undergone with time.
Works like Papaveri are rich in texture. Split between a pale whitish grey and a deep forest green this work is reminiscent of Mark Rothko’s “multiform” paintings. This one is stitched or sutured with red fleck in the center that fade out over the right bottom half of the painting. It is a near literal sense of sky and earth. Like his other works, this piece focusses on emotional and spiritual expression and seeks to achieve a representation of the sublime rather than a realistic portrayal of nature.
Di Cola’s works share an affinity with past color field painters but are wholly contemporary with his use of washed-out color on a stitched, jute canvas. The vast differences among these choices in landscape depicted in di Cola’s paintings highlight the artist’s cyclical and everlasting representation of life regardless of setting.
His abstract representations of these various scenes indicate a higher beauty than the mind can firmly pin down and one that is granted equally to many different aspects of life. To find out more about his work and themes, I sat down with Alessandro for an interview:
Paul Gost: How long have you been painting? Did you always know you would be an artist?
Alessandro Di Cola: “I’d say since I was very small!’ My attention has always verged towards drawing, – shapes, imagining, perceiving things differently from how they actually looked.
Did I know I would be an artist? Well! I’ve never really stopped to think about it. I can only say, now that I have, I realize that that one is an artist in thought and intuition … everything else is pure being.
PG: Tell me about your process, do you create a painting in one sitting or over time?
ADC: My pictures, like most of my sculptures, are born from and are expressions of the sensations and mood of the moment since tomorrow might be different or be perceived, felt differently. I don’t like long processes. Metabolization times might be long, becoming one with the feeling, making the sensation ‘mine’, before beginning a work.
PG: Your work is rich in texture and minimal in color, there is also a deeply emotive quality to them. What is the message behind these works?
ADC: At the base of my pictorial works there is a focus on “image retrieval”, “stitching” together the pieces as in old photographs that are torn, peeled or faded. I want to create a meeting point between sky and earth both real and reflected; to stitch together a memory made up of colors that have almost completely vanished but are still discernible in their transparency. The message is definitely that we need to “mend” what was worthy, important, underlining the idea of “rebuilding.”
PG: There is a earthy quality to your works. What relationship to nature does your work have?
ADC: I believe the relationship of my works to nature is in their likenesses, with nature in the foreground, a nature which must continue to exist through time and that needs, at times, to be rescued.
We are part of this world and are aware of its importance.
courtesy of the artist
Di Cola’s enthusiasm rather than hesitance in showing the backbone of his canvas, as seen in his emphasizing the stitching rather than hiding it, brings to mind artists such as Alberto Burri and Robert Rauschenberg, whose revolutionary use of unexpected materials and similar eagerness in showing them off in their work indicated a preference for using common, everyday materials to depict larger themes and deeper meanings.
Similar to the bare bones style found in his paintings, di Cola‘s sculptures are forms stripped down to their own essence, thereby eliminating visual distractions that take away from the true focal point of the image.
The careful elimination of heads, legs and arms from individual works allows viewers to focus on the still movement of the body parts remaining. Sculptures of faces with only aluminum wiring to outline the back of the head that was once there draw our attention to the passage of time as the faces begin to appear more like death masks that remind us again of the cycle of life.
The themes and forms found in di Cola’s work are shared by several of his contemporaries: di Cola’s face sculptures are not dissimilar from artist Suzanne Fortin’s similarly grim African-inspired works on canvas. The world, as depicted by di Cola and his contemporaries, is one of reflective sensitivity that places its focus on the everlasting wheel of life and its moments of beauty.