alessio delfino

Alessio Delfino « Reves | Dreams »



8 November – 6 December 2014


“Notte delle Arti Contemporanee”

8 November 2013 | from 6pm to 12am

Alessio Delfino, Italian artist, French by adoption, declines the Body, in the cycle that bears the title of Rêves/Dreams, both as a surface that unfolds in the process of its becoming in space and as a film that appears in its disparity. Unveiling, and therefore Apokalypsis, and at the same time fluid, transparent and light veil, in which the weight of bodily physicality becomes light, writing… handwriting. The photographic language thus rejoins the Greek etymology of phòs-photòs and graphìa, profiling itself in the continuity of the drawing, in the recurrent abstraction of the sign. Withdrawing from the representation of the body in its fullness, the author does not cease instead to open it in its movement, track, memory, desire, path of acquisition and knowledge. If we can talk about the nude, about his work, however, it should be noted that the absolute nakedness that we face is that of the disappearance of reality, expressed in the narration of its folds. In his scenarios, which are structured as sutures of situations oscillating between sleep and wakefulness, Alessio Delfino makes the woman dance, on the fluid screen of his imagination, as an essential figure of the origin, arborescent, genealogical, generative nucleus referring to paracrystallographic morphological characterizations. In the work, reference is made to the principle of the feminine as Venusian myth, as archetype of creative fertility of being, as conjugation of Eidos with Eidolon, of idea with image, of form with content.

This undecidable photographer has identified in the female body, certainly not a sacrificial victim, but that his semantic field in which the prophecy of the Delphic oracle can resonate, the light of truth and knowledge. Eros and Thanatos, original and destined energies, do not cease, in every phase of the work of Alessio Delfino, to meet their gaze, to combine the desire for beauty with the desire for knowledge, with the lights and shadows of Being. In Rêves the artist creates a photographic set that responds to an imaginative and projective phenomenology of dreamlike sign, aimed at transcribing, in a visible scenario, of unspeakable beauty, but also of disturbing mystery, the invisible universe of latent thoughts, the waves of deep associations, the escapes from reality in the visionary wanderings of the mind. Attracted by unexplored temporal vortices to remote areas of a subliminal space, to elusive dimensions of being, creatures, beautiful bodies, melting their soft limbs into each other, give rise to a mutant from the tentacles of jellyfish, by the tattooed skin of a snake, with hypnotic eyes, petrifying like the look of Gorgon: materialization not far from the rosy luciferin fantasies of the Anglo-Saxon brothers Jake & Dinos Chapman.

Outlining an arc, between apex and fall, the creative drive of Alessio Delfino seems to prelude to the destructive, to presage, in the inextricable fusion of limbs and wombs, even of Eros and Thanatos, the return to an involutive, preorganic, inanimate state, of cemetery warning, underlying the symbolic scenario of the Vanitas.

In the movement of the female body, the artist draws the idea of Metamorphosis, the form of Time, the pitiful and pitiless folds of existence, the changing appearances of the same reality. Shining and disturbing is the cycle, on display, entitled Metamorphoseis, 2007, in which Delfino gives body, between myths and rites, to a physical non-place, to that female mutant he assumes, from subject to subject, grandeur nature, the likeness of eleven goddesses of Olympus, all uniformly covered with a golden patina, in which a professional, psychic, astrological, human-too human experience is fatally inscribed. Through the Beauty of Woman, the artist himself becomes the object of his desire.

The images, starting from their persistence on the retina, penetrate, giving themselves as imperceptible vibrations in space. The naked body of the woman, caught in the performativity of the dance – initiatory journey, archaic ritual, scenic moment, epiphany, depending on the various cycles of Alessio Delfino, not excluding that of esoteric sign-theosophical – does not cease to enter a liquid space at enne dimensions. The memory of movement, of one or more bodies in space, is perceived, in his photographic work, as in listening to a musical text. The resonance of the beginning enters the flow of the composition, to be fulfilled in the final, while moving a return wave that stimulates the emotional intelligence of the whole. The photographic representations of the movement, of this researcher of Beauty, through technological innovation, are given in the instantaneity of a vision of the symphonic order. The viewer, in front of a work, which is difficult to perceive as photographic, captures the mnestic traces of a body taken, from shot to shot, in the mode of an oxymorically motionless movement. As in the melodic structure of a musical scale – in the span of one or more octaves – the poetics of Alessio Delfino comes from the declination, ascending or descending, of a still image, a succession of poses, frequencies, intervals, pauses, breaks, silences.

His photographic process, starting from the end of the nineties, is embedded in the metahistory of a kinetic image, real or virtual, which finds its antecedents in Muybridge and Marey, and its artistic expressions in the movements of Cubism and Futurism. His Rêves cycle is the first radically digital process, which began in late 2012. An immediate visual impression seems to return the physical totality of the body or of the bodies, in their movement in space, while, at a closer look, you can find surprising points of contact with the process of synthesizing the cubist image. In fact, by deconstructing the compositional structure of parts of the body, in which appearance and disappearance are interpenetrated, it is discovered that Delfino returns the optical effect of the transparency of the limbs, putting into practice the mode of fusion. There is talk of interpenetration and fusion, never of overlap, the result of which would be the opacity and heaviness of the contact points. To better visualize this parallel, it would be useful to refer, by way of example, to Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso or to Jeune homme triste dans un train by Duchamp. He distanced himself from the compositional elements of cubes, triangles and edges, of these masters of the avant-garde, to focus, in reading, circles, lines and sinuosity, of this contemporary photographer, there are further similarities and responses in the sought neutrality of tonal values, in the abandonment of the perspective yield to the benefit of the graphic-painting, tapestry effect, in the resorption of the figure in the background, intention and outcome supported by the use of a cotton-based watercolor paper. The artist in fact talks about desaturation of color, deconstruction of the structural structure in the direction of a narrative.

Delfino pursues, in the digital printing process, areas of uniformity between the image and the background, obtaining the result of an attenuation of the contrast of chiaroscuro, a diffusion of luminism on the tactile film of the support. From a real body comes the reality of an imaginary body that opens in a fan, blooms in a corolla, thickens in a trunk, explodes in a star. The legs flex, sometimes, in the void, hands and arms row in space. The straight hair, in the wind or falling, mimic the fluidity of the watercolor, redesign the skyline of a continuum of visage/ paysage, now thickened scattered.

Entering visually into the agglomeration of digitally modelled bodies, one could also read a sculptural intention never dormant, dating back to the times of Hasselblad, square photographs, silver salts, black and white, when the artist, at the beginning, late nineties, he worked on the radical search for abstraction and modelling of headless figures, strongly chiaroscuro and very high definition. Alessio Delfino does not cease to put into practice the conditions of possibility of a gesture of photography that is measured with the temporal dimensions of Krònos, as unstoppable sliding, and of Aiòn, as absolute immobility, crystallized in light. The Greek Vision attracts the dance of life in a path of knowledge, immobilizing it under the gaze of the Gorgon, who magically appropriates, as in love and war, in gamos and polemos, the object looked at. It is not the gaze of the woman who dances, the star that springs from Chaos, as Nietzsche wants, that bewitches and seduces, but that of the artist who, like the gaze of the serpent and the seer, portrays her, capturing her in the image, incinerating her in desire, making it implode, irrevocably, in the seriousness of his work. As we read in Derrida, Alessio Delfino seeks the conditions of the possibility of intersection of looks with touch, in order to inaugurate, visually, a contact, a meeting between an ego and a you, between a self and another, between its identity and otherness. Even at the material level, his work stimulates, synesthetically, a phenomenological reading, spatialized, slipping between the visible and the tactile. Pausing on the Bataillean threshold of prohibition and transgression, parading before the observer a pale and silent procession of conceptual statues, of mental figures, the artist alchemically practices eroticism as an ascent and a descent from the celibate machine a possible Duchampian Great Glass. Once again Eros and Thanatos, still visions of Greek sculptures touched by a blind, suggestions in front of the cracked beauty of ruin, still Bataille who writes Eroticism can be said to be the approval of life right up to death. It is not to be excluded that the artist lets emerge, from the depths, his Apollonian aesthetics, his nymphs: remote resonances of myths, figures, symbols, drawn from the genetic heritage of the Western imagination, analyzed by Aby Warburg. Or, as neuroaesthetics, biochemistry, cognitive psychology claim, his images could come from the mnestic recording of a neural network of engrams, presenting themselves, unexpected, as intermittent holograms. A particular connotation of Alessio Delfino’s work of art is to extend the representation of his vision of the world to the dimension of sleep. Lucid Dream, in Anglo-Saxon literature, which, in the research of scientists such as Frederik van Eeden and Stephen Laberge, elaborates its syntax and semantics of the dream, taking the name of onironautica, that is, it explores the dream lucidly, conforming it to its own desire. Speaking of hypnagogical activity, it is not the Freudian interpretation of dreams or the Jungian interpretation of archetypes, which involves the artist, but the creative process of the dream activity. In fact, as Giancarlo Pagliasso writes, the ‘dreams’ of Alessio, through the bizarre body architectures with which they are presented, are actually metaphorical exercises or figurative devices to talk about the physical substance of the work (art).

As in the process of expansion and compression of anamorphic illusionism, so the unfolding of the reiteration of the body, in the movement of dance, tends to recompose in the uniqueness of the subject. In the circularity of his poetry, recur the reversibility of the one in the multiple, the inextricability between knowledge and desire, the passage from light to shadow, the confluence of the aesthetic sense in the ontological. Close your eyes to see beyond, to see the Nothing: indistinguishable with open eyes. Walking through the superb ruins of the gaze, touching with the desire unattainable Greek sculptures, crossing memories d’antan et de nos jours, of the past and today, Alessio Delfino, retired in his atelier, does not cease to Photographing with closed eyes, Daydreaming… Photographier les Yeux fermés Rêver les Yeux ouverts…

Viana Conti


Alessio’s Dreams

The works that Alessio Delfino proposes to us as an expressive figure of his ‘dreams’, through the series of his latest photographs, can be referred to the scope of the dream somatic sources, those that Freud calls hypnagogical? To some extent yes and no, to want to understand what the artist says about the ability to store, even visually, the smallest details of the objects in the state of souplessewhile, having to keep a vigilant attention to the features, this precision of detail is eroded into a perception sometimes indistinct and little cluttered.

Similar to the observations on the etiology of the dream by the father of psychoanalysis, Delfino’s rêvées images merge into “multiple similar or completely identical objects”(1), but otherwise do not concern internal sensory stimuli in a state of relaxation but the careful and objective intention of the wake.

They are more daydreams questioning the ‘night’ of Mnemosine instead of sounding the hermeneutic of its diurnal aftermath upon awakening.

However, the compositions, of small format, seem to activate the same rhetorical ingredients found in the unconscious dream work. Meanwhile, they are concretions of bodily postures – the artist always interacts with nude models, preferably female figures – united together on the basis of a selection of different movements that he extracts, thanks to digital instrumentation, from samples of poses almost always exceeding one hundred shots in each work session with each subject.

Each single shot depicts a position of the body of the model, which essentially works as the starting theme of the ‘dream’, which will conform in the final image ‘condensing’ in a «collective person»(2) several other moments of its position differently according to the indications of the artist. Like a conductor, he articulates the motor sequence according to a defined path, following it and fixing it, station by station, through the camera in successive snapshots.

From this material, Delfino comes to the final structure of the ‘dream’, choosing the plastic combinations that best suit his idea of expression and making a ‘harmonious’ recomposition of the various figures in a complex or ‘drawing’ of unexpected and singular set.

The use of cotton paper to print photos also contributes to making the contours of the figurative allotrope as if they were drawn in pencil or pastel, So much so that the imaginary construct seems to fade towards the opaque shades of the background as if to make evident the uncertain and mysterious texture, for the vigilant mending, of the paths of the dream logic precisely.

Even temporally, the constructive dynamic put in place by the artist is inherent in the discontinuous work of the dream in linking situations. In fact, every reconstituted figure ‘merges’ in itself, in the hic et nunc of the resulting definitive and unique artifact to be exposed, different temporal scans, partial moments of life that appear still identifiable, within the ultimate amalgam that historically conforms them to the poietic decision of the author, only after careful and accurate analysis.

The “rebus” effect, which circulates within this series of photographs, instead resides in the difficulty in many cases to place ‘morphologically’, that is, contextually to the ‘bodies’ of belonging, significant anatomical parts (buttocks, breasts, sex and limbs), fluctuating now as signifiers ensnared in the orgiastic reciprocal inertia to any possible epidermal surface.

Wanting to psychoanalyze the Delfino himself, it is consequential to link the metaphoricity of condensation, which proposes to the viewer, as an allusion, behind the mirror, to the infant’s desire for total fusion with the mother’s body.

By continuing this easy approach, the true message of the artist could then lie in the allusion, by translation, to the fetish character of the work, through which the polymorphic child perversity finally finds a socially ‘presentable’ address.

The china of this game, even fun if practiced on the surface, can not be traveled all the way, however, because precisely the details, seemingly marginal of the anatomical parts connected with the insistence of desire, make us aware that a movement action is just noticeable compared to the latter.

Here then these metonymic components, while referencing through the visual synecdotes in which they are embedded in favor of the artist’s willingness to rebuild the body of his model, On the contrary, they testify that this is a secondary objective compared to its real intentions.

Alessio’s ‘dreams’, through the bizarre bodily architectures with which they are presented, are actually metaphorical exercises or figurative devices to talk about the physical substance of the work (of art).

This physicality (or ‘skeleton’) of the work is allegorically suggested through the formal remodulation of the kinetic continuity of the naked body of the models, carried out by emphasizing and ‘exposing’ which is composed of the two basic tropes of metaphor and metonymy.

In addition to the paradigmatic value for the grammar of the unconscious, which also Lacan on the trail of Freud has taken to illustrate the wanderings of desire, metaphor and metonymy have always been the backbone of the paraphernalia ‘linguistic’ with which artistic expression has given support to the imagination in its effort to materialize in shell form.

Now, with the Mannerist drift of Conceptual, as it was during Postmodern, contemporary art seems, because of the prevailing appropriation and quotation, to have taken leave of the instance of creation of new imaginary sense, limiting itself to a ‘sensible’ illustration of reality, in which minimalism and emphasis coexist, understatement and shouted expression, in short, the resurgence of a neo-baroque rhetoric of form and content.

Alessio Delfino’s aesthetic proposal seems to go in the opposite direction to this majority current of cloying ‘repeaters’ of the existing, his ‘dreams’ allude to a possible horizon of meanings certainly ‘metaphysical’.


Freud, Opere, vol.III, tr. it. a cura di C.Musatti, Torino, Boringhieri, p.38.


GianCarlo Pagliasso

8 November – 6 December 2014; Thu – Sat. 15 – 19 or by appointment

franzpaludettotorino – Via Stampatori 9 (Piazzetta Viglongo) – 10122 Torino

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