Gabriele de Santis


How will 2015 be preserved and then portrayed by time? What will remain of its language, its symbols and its aesthetic? How will the filter of time represent this historic transition? These are all questions that are hard to answer today. We lack the necessary critical detachment, for we are too closely involved in the creative and constructive process to understand what might become iconographic. Yet Gabriele De Santis’s poetic vision appears to insist on these themes, with no fear of direct confrontation with the present and with its consequent reinterpretation. The artist does not take from the past, nor does he nostalgically quote from existing sources, but rather adopts the lexicon that accompanies us all, every day, and he creates a lean, alluring portrait of the contemporary world.

The revolution of the transmission of information in our times thus becomes the primary theme of Gabriele De Santis’s work.The hashtag, which is used to group themes on social networks, where news is increasingly conveyed, has come to the forefront in his works. Carved into blocks of marble, this symbol has become a sort of contemporary hieroglyphic and the opening sign of a modern system of writing that he crystallises in the toughest material, on which the effects of time appear only slowly. But it is also the material that forms the city – commonly referred to as ‘Eternal’ – where the artist lives. Two very distant symbols are thus brought together to create a deliberate oxymoron that is designed to highlight the process of evolution to which the world is subjected.

But Gabriele De Santis does not simply capture the quintessential symbol of instant communication, for he also encroaches on the sphere of the transmission of emotions in our digital world. Smiles and winks made by combinations of characters appear on marble diptychs and on canvases with wheels on the back, showing how the poetics of feelings have changed. In their immediate and relaxed manner, emoticons now embody what just a quarter of a century ago would have been expressed by a torrent of words.

This incessant movement is what the artist intends to capture, showing it also through the use of popular logos that he takes on loan.The Nike jumpman logo – also known as the silhouette of Michael Jordan dunking a ball – and the three parallel stripes of Adidas are recurrent symbols in the artist’s work, and the images of a society that is constantly forced to perform and always give its best. Gabriele De Santis shows how, both physically and metaphorically, the pillars of history are moved on roller-skates, raising a toast to the present only to start off again on their next rapid march (That’s how’s gon’ be, young, wild and free. Not gonna slow down. Up to the max, until we crush, we’re not gonna stop now, 2014).The titles of Gabriele De Santis’s works open up a new world of the imagination, and a new layer of interpretation: irreverent, playful, often in the form of personifications, they characterise the works by shifting them onto a higher narrative plane.

Gabriele De Santis questions the codes and all that surrounds us in our everyday lives, on which our time and our consciousness travels, and on which our relationships are based. Which is to say, the translation of a system, the construction of an iconography of the contemporary world and of an aesthetic of the present.

Ilaria Gianni


Social media, writing symbols and brackets are an integral part of Gabriele De Santis’s art, and in his works we find a whole range of signs that are typical of sites like Facebook,Twitter and Instagram. Incorporating unusual juxtapositions of skateboard grips and wheels with more traditional materials such as marble and canvas, De Santis raises issues concerning movement and the instant nature of communication. But there are also themes such as the ambiguity of symbols, the precariousness of human connections and the notion of intimacy in an increasingly digitised world.

For De Santis, the quintessential symbol of data communications is the hashtag coupled with a word, which is generally used on social networks to group together subjects of common interest, earmarking categories within a far broader range of subjects or comments on the Web.

The use of this symbolism is completely contrary to the slow effect of nature, which is inherent in a material like marble.This dialogue, or rather oxymoron, is heightened by the inclusion of skateboard wheels on the back of his canvases. In De Santis’s view, this is quite simply “a metaphor to explain the constant evolution of ideas and movement around the creation of a work of art.” Both the gradual changes affecting marble and the immediacy of symbols taken from the world of skateboarding point to the concept of interrupted movement, ultimately referring to how the world around us is constantly changing.

Many of De Santis’s recent works transform popular culture into something amusing, such as the use of famous song titles, such as Can’t take my eyes off you, creating a playful cross- reference to the imagery of the work itself. But there is more, for sometimes the reference is to the very nature of human beings: “I am interested in anthropomorphising works of art, giving them human attributes,” explains De Santis, “for this allows them to have a personality of their own.”

Gabriele De Santis


Gabriele De Santis, Roma, 1983. Vive e lavora a Roma – Vive y trabaja en Roma – Viu i treballa a Roma – Lives and works in Rome


2010 MA Visual Arts, University of the Arts Londra, UK


2016 TBA, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo,Torino

2015 TBA, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Madrid

TBA, a cura di Adam Carr, MOSTYN, Llandudno

TBA, Galerie Valentin, Parigi

Upbeat Heights, JuneFirst, Berlino (doppia personale)

If you have got the feeling jump across the ceiling, Limoncello, Londra

2014 On the Run, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Londra

Dear Los Angeles, ICI in LA, USA

(performance in collaborazione con Alex Ross), L.A.

The Dance Step of a Watermelon While Meeting a Parrot for the FirstTime, Depart Foundation, L.A.

Drop it like it’s hot, Galerie Valentin, Parigi

Dear Michael, Frutta, Roma 2013 Which came first, the dice or the dots? Hmmm… the donut, Limoncello, Londra

Commercial Road Project #6, con Ruth Proctor, un progetto di CURA, Londra

Looking for a madeleine in Baalbek, Galerie Diana Stigter Backspace, Amsterdam

2012 Suck My Disney, Frutta, Roma


2015 Why we expect more from technology and less from each other (Verena Dengler, Florian Meisenberg, David Renggli, Gabriele de Santis), Wentrup, Berlino

Italian and British artists meet Milano, a cura di Pietro Di Lecce, The Workbench, Milano

To rectify a situation, Valentin, Parigi

TAVERNA – We are Open (Icastica 2015), a cura di Ilaria Gianni, Fraternita dei Laici, Arezzo

Un Nouveau Festival, a cura di Florencia Chernajovsky, Centre Pompidou, Parigi

Oh, Of Course, You Were Berry Picking, coorganizzato da Rosa Tyhurst, Drei, Colonia

Fantastica. The way we make art, BeatTricks, Milano

Milk Revolution, a cura di CURA, American Academy in Rome, Roma

2014 SMALL Rome, a cura di Adam Carr, Frutta, Roma

The Go-Between – una selezione di artisti emergenti internazionali dalla collezione di Ernesto Esposito, Museo di Capodimonte, Napoli

La Gioia, a cura di Carole Schuermans, Maison Particulière, Bruxelles

Athletic Valentin, un progetto di CURA, Galerie Valentin, Parigi

Frieze Sculpture Park, Londra De Generation of Painting, Fondazione 107,Torino

Un Rumore Bianco, a cura di Andrea Bruciati, Assab One, Milano

Speedboat, a cura di Alex Ross, Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, NewYork

Dreams that money can’t buy, un progetto di CURA, Independent Space, MAXXI, Roma

Borders, a cura di Adam Carr,

OnTheTip Of MyTongue, a cura di Marta Silvi, PalazzoTrinci, Foligno

Arte Coni 100, a cura di Maria Alicata e Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, varie sedi, Roma

Playground, a cura di Maria Alicata e Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, Casa delle Armi, Roma

Yeah and look where it got us, Mon Chéri, Bruxelles

We’ve Got Mail, a cura di Adam Carr, Mostyn, Llandudno

2013 Private Collection selected by #1 / Anneke Eussen, Tatjana Pieters, Gent

Mappa, page 2, a cura di Adam Carr, Nomas Foundation, Roma

Chinese Whispers, CURA, Basement, Roma

Wanna be a masterpiece, a cura di Ilaria Marotta, ISCP, NewYork

Footnotes, a cura di Valentinas Klimašauskas, CAC, Vilnius

Fessure, a cura di Ermanno Cristini, Museo della Ceramica di Cerro, Laveno

2012 We will disappear you, a cura di Adam Carr, Frutta, Roma

Metamorphosis, a cura di Andrea Bruciati, Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Udine, Udine

Art-o-Rama, Marsiglia Re-Generation, a cura di Ilaria

Gianni e Maria Alicata, MACRO, Roma

Tutti al Mare…, Frutta, Roma Premio Moroso per l’arte

contemporanea 2010, Menzione speciale, GC.AC, Monfalcone

2011 On Stage, a cura di Andrea Bruciati, Verona

Hear Me Out, a cura di Cecilia Casorati e Claudio Libero Pisano, CIAC, Genazzano

Remake Argonauti, a cura di Andrea Bruciati e Alice Ginaldi, Galleria Metropolitana, Gorizia

Beyond “Liminal Experience”, a cura di Francesco Scasciamacchia, Vault, Prato

Il Ramo d’Oro, a cura di Andrea Bruciati e Eva Comuzzi, Fondazione Giovanni da Udine, Udine

2010 Premio Moroso per l’arte contemporanea 2010, a cura di Andrea Bruciati, GCAC, Monfalcone

Il Raccolto d’Autunno Continua ad Essere Abbondante, a cura di Chiara Agnello e Milovan Farronato, DOCVA, Milano

To be destroyed, 10 Floors Project, a cura di Lucy Woodhouse e Huw Chaffer, Londra

Seven 7 artists | 7 curators, a cura di A. Grulli, C. Corbea, F. Pagliuca, L. Bruni, M.Tagliaferro, M. Farronato, N.Trezzi, Conduits, Milano

La Danse Macabre, a cura degli studenti della John Cabot University, coordinati da Ilaria Gianni, Nomas Foundation, Roma

2009 Emotional Community, a cura diTeresa Macrì, Monitor Gallery, Roma

Mi ricordo di noi, a cura di Lorenzo Bruni, Dryphoto Arte Contemporanea, Prato

Usine des rêves, a cura di Cecilia Casorati, 26cc, Roma


Artwork in Exhibition