On the occasion of his show at Monitor Lisbon, “The Lobster Loop” and his solo presentation within the Drawings section of Artissima 2017, we interviewed artist Tomaso De Luca (Verona, 1988).
Tomaso is interested in the critic analysis of the political structures in which materi – also are embedded. His sculptures, drawings and dysfunctional architectures destroy and recompose reality, by reducing it to its constitutive pieces, which are then reconfigured in a new, unexpected order. The process of appropriation of reality leads Tomaso De Luca to question the position of the subject. The artist’s work focuses on the performativity of body in the architectural spaces and in its relation with objects. The choice of specific materials seems to b e dictated by more than just functionality: he portrays the body by exploring its connection with surf aces – progressively more functional, obedient, smart and comfortable – as if, after all, we are all somehow striving to b e loved by objects. Within this discourse, materials and forms emerge as a political matter, which is sexualized, racialized, eroticized and profoundly embedded in structures of power. In his recent production De Luca has been questioning the so called ‘machine’ of Modernism – a functional machine which reflects on its own operating principles. Employing aesthetic standards that belongs to art and architecture from that p eriod, the artist reduces time (historical, institutional,intimate) to a spatial element, and investigates the need of complexity as a f orm of resistance in the contemporary discourse.
Carla Ingrasciotta: Your art deals with notion of identity. In your research you aim to free subjects and objects from their standard functions in order to question their forms and relations. How do you translate this idea into your art?
Tomaso de Luca: By trying to mirror reality through a specific thing, a specific gaze, an object, an archetype, a story. My work is a continuous research on otherness, a transformation of the work of art in a multiplicity, a hypertext, that leads the viewer to… nowhere. But in order to get to that specific nowhere, one should pass through every layer of my work, fall in every single charming trap I set up, and hopefully will end up covered in “mud”.
My work reminds me of a silver pot, its reflecting surface which disrupts the surrounding reality. I wonder if anyone can, at the same time, be the teapot, the surrounding room and its reflection, one’s own gaze and oneself?
C.I.: Could you tell us about your recent show with Monitor gallery, Lisbon? Which are the artworks you’ve presented on this occasion and what was the creative process behind it?
T.D.L: The idea for the show started from a dialogue between Andreia Santana, André Romão and myself, after Monitor gallery brought us together to collaborate. We started to think about the show as a novel, a book that can be walked through. We invented the plot of a sci-fi novel, where New York City’s administration, due to the gentrification processes of the last 40 years, decides to abolish public and private space, and turns the whole city into a gigantic dive bar. We started to exchange emails with short narratives about the three of us meeting in one of the bars, named The Lobster Loop (which also could sound like a syndrome). The works I presented were a materialization, if you will, of the characters of my writing.
The two sculptures named “Cokehead” and the drawings on casted resin “The Visit and I Drink Because of You” and paper “Falling”, portray the perspective consumers of the bar. These uncanny heads with long noses seem to consume not only drugs and drinks anymore. They’re sniffing the space itself, architecture, furniture, they consume the space, when everything else is gone. I tried to push even further the anxiety of my generation, the questions about what and how we consume. The work “B.B.B.B.R.R.P.P.S.S.S.V.”, inspired by a drawing by Archizoom, is the impossible architecture of the dive bar, which becomes an unattainable sanctuary.
C.I: How is your typical day as an artist?
T.D.L: Happily there are no “typical” days. I read, write, draw and make sculpture as much as I can every day.
C.I: What about your experience within Artissima? Any tips on the Turin art week you’d like to share with us?
T.D.L: The experience this year was great, I’m really glad João Mourão and Luis Silva invited me to take part of the section Disegni, it was exciting. In the fair, besides the high quality of the galleries proposals (showing some quite incredible works, like Beverly Pepper at Kayne Griffin Corcoran), I think the show Deposito d’Arte Italiana Presente was an interesting (anti)display, where the artists’ works were vividly present. Good job!
Unfortunately my experience in Turin was extremely brief this time, I didn’t manage to see many of the shows around the city. I’ve been to DAMA, where I enjoyed Anna Franceschini’s screening and performance, curated by João Laia, and the works by Sebastian Burger at Tobias Naehring .
C.I: Your were born in Verona, studied in Milan but moved to Rome where you developed your artistic career. What do you think about the art scene in the city? Do you perceive Rome as one of the main Italian contemporary art destinations as Milan and Turin are?
T.D.L: Even if I left Rome two years ago, I am quite positive that it still has plenty of shows and chances to offer to anyone who’s interested in contemporary art. So yes, sure, why shouldn’t be compared to Milan or Turin?
C.I: Any upcoming project we could look forward to seeing?
T.D.L: Actually I’ll be calm for a while now, I’m going back to NYC until January, so I will take this precious time to keep studying and working.