Over the last two years I have worked closely with the artists of Aleph Contemporary, London. It’s been such an exciting and enriching experience to get to know each artist and interview them about their technical process, concepts and the evolution of their work. In these conversations, the story of making, creativity and struggle become poetic wanderings, rigorous theoretical exchanges and new discoveries.
Here is one such example written about the delightful simple beauty of artist Jacopo Dal Bello.
Berlin based artist Jacopo Dal Bello is a contemporary master. From paintings to beautifully designed assemblages and sculpture, Dal Bello’s pictures and objects often begin with found elements, transformed through the process of imagination and experimentation. In these constructions, pale arrangements of paper, text, pigment, and discarded personal belongings are artfully juxtaposed to create a place of memory and poetic evocation.
For the artist, not only has Arte Povera inspired his way of working but as well Berlin’s culture of recycling and reuse has informed the use of often enigmatic fragments within the mnemonic compositions. Dal Bello notes he takes advantage of Berlin’s frequent flea markets and the local habit of leaving one’s unwanted items on the street for others to take as they please. This inclusion of the ordinary object or material with historic references to old masters, and traces of life lived and vanished allows Dal Bello’s work to take on a narratival aspect that lies between truth and fiction. He notes: “The found materials bring forgotten and discarded elements to the same level of the painterly gestures and baroque fragments, and function as a re-evaluation of the way we look at and consider our surroundings, by challenging the rigid structures through which we interpret and categorize the world. All these different elements share the same potentiality for meaning.”
Dal Bello also holds an interest in the Fluxus movement, particularly the multiciliary approach. Indeed, before he began making visual work, the artist created sound pieces and has developed as of late a new “convergence with my visual work, both in themes and techniques.” As well, Dal Bello has been increasingly inspired by Pataphysics for “its iconoclastic approach and embrace of contradiction.”
Disruption and iconoclasm may be one element of Dal Bello’s work, but what distinguishes his approach is the ingenuity that we find in the construction and juxtaposition of form in every piece regardless of genre. In some of Dal Bello’s works, wood cabinets and vessels recall the wonder of the Kunstkammer, a foray into the mysterious and wonderfully populated artist or collector’s studio, an intimacy and richness revealed, traces of history, making and idiosyncratic collecting captured. Still others use drapery and found objects combined with gestural drawings and paintings, and imagery of the old masters.
The mark of the artist is found across canvas, paper, and textile delineated in rich expressive lines and shapes — a view into the alchemical process of making art. Abstract form reveals itself in pairings of texture, line, and abandoned materials. Paintings appear as if somewhere between contemplation and finish, exposed canvas, swathes of paint and mark making creating a musical beauty that lies between balance and imbalance, structure and the dissembled. Dal Bello’s remarkable work possesses a mystery bound within a simplicity of form and arrangement, a pared down beauty that also evokes a complex sense of memory and storytelling.
Rosa JH Berland