Patrick Tuttofuoco | Like They Were Eternal


Schiavo Zoppelli Gallery is pleased to present its second solo show by Patrick Tuttofuoco (Milan, 1976).

Like They Were Eternal, the artist’s latest work, focuses on a more intimate dimension, with a meditative approach. The show is a study of time and space through a new awareness, with Tuttofuoco venturing an interpretation of these concepts that allows one to experience them in a new and more fluid way. An immersive installation, it proposes eliminating and possibly blending into a single experience our mental framework of linear time, the dualism between soul and body, life-on-earth and afterlife and the suspended present time.

In recent years scientists and philosophers have theorized that time does not exist outside of human experience, or, rather, that it is divided, chaotic, broken up. Its passing, in other words, is not absolute, but depends on the state of the observer. And yet, while physical time may have collapsed, it remains, along with space, the main reference point for the human condition, for our existence in the world. Man is a sort of time machine, he generates it in its succession of instants, actions and events, determining its existence, through the memory and the yearning for the future.

In order to share his vision, Tuttofuoco, has chosen his own family, the people with whom he has the most direct and strongest bond, the people who, more than anyone else, are the symbol of the urgency of interaction between individuals.

The show opens with a photographic portrait of the artist’s family, an installation on wallpaper that embraces the walls of the gallery’s foyer. Among the figures featured in the image, which is the same used for the 1999 work Family, there are children now grown up, grandparents, aunts and uncles who are no longer with us, and a now much changed Milan in the background. Tuttofuoco gives us access to his dimension, a time established by his memory and by his emotions. A dimension that visitors can keep and preserve, by taking with them one of the posters with the text by writer Umberto Sebastiano.

Freddy Boy follows, in which the colored neon lights, which draw the outlines of upside-down humans, are the representation of the souls that pass from the real world to the afterlife, in the famous Book of the Dead of ancient Egypt. This work is the “memory” of a cousin who passed away too soon, who has become the representation closest to the artist of the connection between the earthly and the otherworldly. The boundaries between transcendence and immanence blend together, there is an alternative dimension where the limits of time and space become fainter, there continues to be a flow, a movement, a transfer of energy. If the work’s vertical development recalls a transcendent and spiritual approach, horizontally it becomes the symbol of a material dimension. The lights go from a warm to a cold color, signifying a dispersion, or, vice versa, an accumulation of energy. The two axes generate a cross: its center represents the encounter between materiality and spirituality, which is nothing if not the human dimension.

Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pietà is the inspiration for the sculptures No Space and No Time, which depict the artist’s wife and son, held in an embrace while asleep. While the works look to classical sculpture, invoking its aesthetic standards and rules of style, they nevertheless give rise to a series of dualisms and dichotomies. As with Michelangelo’s Pietà, on which the artist worked inconsistently (the anatomical elements of Jesus and the Virgin Mary seem to belong to different periods), Tuttofuoco’s sculptures are distinct yet in dialogue with one another, the bust and face one piece, the legs the other. Two separate works which become one.
The distance from its classical reference also occurs through the use of methacrylate. The use of color, an iconic element in Tuttofuoco’s work, highlights the dualism between classicism and modernity. And, despite the use of innovative techniques, 3D scanning and computerized numeric control machines, the sculptures are created from a single block with the process of “in levare” that was the quintessence of Michelangelo’s method.

In the series of hand-drawn works Like They Were Eternal, the simplicity of gesture stands in contrast to the advanced technology always present in his sculptures. The drawings still speak of transience, while the mirrored frames generate a sensorial movement and create the illusion of a black hole on the walls, inside of which the drawings, with the warmth and softness of artist’s touch, generate hope.

On the walls, Time Capsule, three large prints on mirror-finished steel, develop from some photographs taken by Claudia Ferri, in which Tuttofuoco, through the representation of the body, its gestures, and that of his children and wife, has built circular forms, almost of the Ouroboros: the hands are joined and create a form that embodies this idea of the cyclical nature of time, the idea that man, through his existence, becomes time itself.

The aesthetic suggestions, the sensations, the reflections that Patrick Tuttofuoco’s works are capable of provoking in those who view them, find an echo and resonance in a musical track that hangs over the exhibition space like a cloud. The piece, made in collaboration with the musician Nicola Ratti and the writer Umberto Sebastiano, dissolves the voices of family and friends who repeat the phrase “You and me always and forever” into a single flow, played on a loop, like a mantra that once again calls attention to the power of relationships. Meetings, connections, joyous attempts at fusion. You and me, forever: a promise that is impossible to keep and which precisely for this reason should recited, sung. Because to eternity we counterpose the tragic and beautiful destiny of our biological forms, and only art can succeed in stopping our mystery in time.