Pietro Roccasalva was born in 1970 in Modica (Italy). One of the first exhibition he took part of was in 1991. The show was organised by “Movimento Culturale Vitaliano Brancati”, an art group born around the “Sicli newspaper”, whose first President was the painter Piero Guccione. He studied at the Brera Academy of Fine Art, were he graduated in Painting (1). He lives and works in Milan (Italy).
Roccasalva thinks of himself primarily as a painter, although he often uses other media such as installation, sculpture, performance, film and photography. In his work painting is indeed the constant center of an ever-expanding constellation of different elements. These elements can be seen as stages that are formally autonomous, but are also part of a greater situation or process: in the context of the development of the Western painting tradition, it corresponds to the setting, the first phase of a process that leads to the creation of a paintng.
An internal logic in his oeuvre makes the switching of different media inevitable, and makes it also possible for certain themes and images to be recycled: a work bears often traces of something that has preceded it, in a constant referring to iconographies which repeat themselves in various ways and generate new situations. Roccasalva’s work embodies multiple references – ranging from art history to philosophy, from literature to cinema – in relation to the circumstances and contingencies that he encounters in each new context (2).
Pietro Roccasalva describes his working process as “the opposite of collage,” by which he means he allows internal elements of the image to rise to the surface. Painting is essential. His painted figures show traces of religious iconography, modernist collage, and digital distortion, which collectively lend them a sense of simultaneous familiarity and strangeness.
For example, in Il Traviatore (2011), a waiter carrying a silver juice press on a silver platter faces the viewer head on with a solemn gaze emanating from his Byzantine, elongated face. Fascinated by the contradictions inherent in painting’s ability to freeze time and movement, Roccasalva believes “the only chance for painting is to recuperate its power of simulacrum.” (3)
Pietro Roccasalva, in a few years, gave birth to a work that is a true system of thought, a system in which public participation is relegated to the concept of contemplation. The only way for the spectators to take part in the artistic process is the “rapture” in the viewing time, because art is something on its own. The artist denies, in this way, an entire season of the Contemporary Art that put the active public in the middle of the entire process. (4)
L.A. GALLERY: David Kordansky
Pietro Roccasalva had solo shows at Kölnischer Kunstverein (DE), Le Magasin in Grenoble (FR), GaMeC in Bergamo (IT) and Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice (IT). His work was part of group exhibitions at David Roberts Art Foundation in London (GB), Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm (SE), Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (USA), MoMA PS1 in New York (USA), MAXXI in Rome (IT), Kadist Art Foundation in Paris (FR), S.M.A.K. - Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Gent (BE), amongst many others. He was invited for the Venice Biennial in 2009, the second Torino Triennial in 2008, Manifesta 7 in 2008 and the Prague Biennial in 2007. In 2005 he won the Furla Prize for the Art (5th edition, "Follow Your Shadow").