TOD’S | Velasco Vitali
With boundless energy and determination, Italian artist Velasco Vitali (born Bellano 1960) disembarks in Brussels during Uptown Art & Design.
For more than 20 years now Velasco Vitali has studied extensively the theme of lost (ghost) cities; painting them, sculpting impressions and creating monumental installations inspired by the often desperate situations that led to their abandon. Among these art installations, we find “Branco” (translate: pack). The central figures of this exhibition are dogs, desolate individual members of a disoriented pack of strays that invade the space, depriving its visitors and its occupants of their usual space. These dogs, who’s destinies have always been inextricably bound to Man’s, draw the viewer’s attention to the most problematic and desperate aspects of the human condition, from loss of individual identity to the hopeless adventures of mass migration. Velasco’s vision of the world clearly raises questions regarding mankind’s individual and collective identity, the meaning of existence and social destiny. The artist refrains from realistic description, he puts forward neither interpretations nor judgments and he follows no storyline; he limits himself to staging a fascinating and alienating visual creation, to encou-
rage contemplation, generating new sense and meaning.
For many years Velasco has had a predilection for sculptures of dogs, molding and assembling them with a great variety of materials. A fundamental starting point for this prolific and ever more articulate creation of canine figures is without doubt Alberto Giacometti extraordinary, rickety, scrawny, stray dog (a bronze statue from 1951). This dog, rightfully described as the most important dog in the history of art, is deeply intriguing and disturbing.
Vitali’s animals are almost always life-size, synthetically realistic though with considerable freedom, their postures convey tension through studied deformities; at times they are almost pathetic or dazed. Made of sheet metal (with the welding clearly visible), with metal skeletons (or metal mesh) covered in lumpy white plaster (or plaster bandages) or else black traces of tar, or other materials and colors. Even in bronze but with a mutilated surface. Each one of these dogs seems to have a soul of its own, indeed it seems to be ‘lonely as a dog’ and conveys an estranging feeling of plastic solitude, no matter what position it is in. This plastic solitude persists, even when the artist brings together a pack of dogs, as in this installation. We never see dogs running or in an playful stance: these beings are resigned, bewildered and disoriented; each dog was given by the artist the name of a lost city, strange and exotic names such as: Carregine, Tungsten, Mohenjo-daro, Bannack, Suakin…