fabio viale sets tattooed and carved marble sculptures across the tuscan town of pietrasanta

Feb 17, 2021

the tuscan town of pietrasanta has been treated to a public exhibition featuring the monumental works of the sculptor fabio viale. the artist, who is widely known for his tattooed marble sculptures, was invited by pietrasanta’s mayor to display a series of works conceived in dialogue with the town’s historic urban fabric. titled ‘truly’, the exhibition has been curated by enrico mattei, and was held across pietrasanta’s most picturesque public spaces, including its piazza del duomo and the 14th century church of sant’agostino. responding to the ongoing pandemic, fabio viale interprets the meaning of our period of enforced isolation, premiering — among other works — his sculpture ‘the three graces’ within the church.

in truly, an exhibition produced with the support of the galleria poggiali, viale responds to the new iconography to which we are all subject — face masks. the artist symbolically expresses the theme through the sculpture ‘the three graces’, set within the church of sant’agostino. made in white marble and featuring detailed drapery, the subjects depict three women originating from ghardaïa, a city in algeria. here the women wear the traditional haik, a loose, white, full-length garment wrapped around the head and body, leaving only one eye uncovered. having visited the city of ghardaïa on one of his frequent travels, viale says that he wished for the artwork to focus attention on the issue of denied freedom and, at the same time, on the clichéd perception of this idea that westerners have.

the positioning of ‘the three graces’ in the church highlights its mystical and symbolic energy, and further seeks to stimulate a conversation around the issues of personal, religious and meditative freedom. this idea is also reflected in its juxtaposition with ‘stargate’, a sculpture made out of arabescato marble from mount altissimo. comprising two monumental fruit crates joined together with a small gap left in between, the sculpture becomes both a passage and a boundary — themes associated with outcomes of new spirituality and emancipation.

‘underlying viale’s work, there is always a respectful knowledge of matter, a virtuous relationship between technique and poetry, materials and tools, man and nature that he has cultivated over the years,’ says sergio risaliti, director of the museo novecento of florence and author of an essay in the exhibition catalogue. ‘this is what has led him to perfect a creative process that has as its purpose, net of other considerations, the enhancement of the formal properties of the stone and the conceptual and figurative qualities of the human imagination.’

highlights of the works on view in the piazza include: ‘souvenir david’ — a monumental portrayal of michelangelo’s david upon which viale has experimented with a new type of tattoo for the first time; a large torso inspired by the ‘torso belvedere’; and an original work, a torso inspired by the ‘torso gaddi’ created in collaboration with creative director marcelo burlon. this marble surface is tattooed with burlon’s famous motifs, creating a dynamic combination of natural elements and contemporary stylistic expression.

see more by viale on designboom here, including a series of works made from polystyrene, rubber and plastics, and read our interview with the artist where he discusses his tattooed marble works here.

fabio viale, le tre grazie, 2020 marmo bianco (from left to right) 125x89x61 cm, 124x86x88 cm, 137x77x75 cm image courtesy fabio viale studio, torino

fabio viale, le tre grazie, 2020 marmo bianco (from left to right) 125x89x61 cm, 124x86x88 cm, 137x77x75 cm image courtesy fabio viale studio, torino

exhibition info:

title: truly

artist: fabio viale

curator: enrico mattei

location: pietrasanta, italy

produced with the support of: galleria poggiali

invited by: mayor alberto stefano giovannetti, and councillor for culture and tourism, senator massimo mallegni

dates: june 27 – october 4, 2020