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.
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
FORMACIÓN / FORMACIÓ / FORMAZIONE / EDUCATION
2010 MA Visual Arts, University of the Arts Londra, UK
EXPOSICIONES INDIVIDUALES / MOSTRE INDIVIDUALI / SOLO EXHIBITIONS
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
EXPOSICIONES COLECTIVAS, BECAS Y PREMIOS / EXPOSICIONS COL·LECTIVES, BEQUES I PREMIS / MOSTRE COLLETTIVE, BORSE DI STUDIO E PREMI / GROUP EXHIBITIONS, AWARDS, CURATORIAL PROJECTS (selección / selezione / selection)
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, Artuner.com
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