Claudio Diatto, Turin 1953.
After the degree at "Accademia Albertina" Art School, Diatto attends the School of Architecture at the Polytechnic Institute of Turin. At the beginning of the eighties he is on a training process in France: first in Antibes at Fersen Gallery directed by the American Judith Fox, then in Paris at Le Breton Gallery in rue Dauphine, eventually in Nogent-le-Rotrou at Saint-Jean National Museum.
Since the nineties he has been living and working in Dogliani, tenaciously looking for an iconic code inspired by the rythm of Langa's landscape.
This complex path, always pursued by the artist with a deep passion, merged in 2009 into the paper cut series of the Fertile Hands cycle: valuable papers first cut and then painted. Because of these papercuts, in 2011 he has been invited to two solo exhibitions in China, in Beijing and Tianjin.
Through joyful and colourful neopop pictograms, the content of Diatto's works aims at reinforcing the concept of art seen as a therapy against angst and as a recreational attitude to convey the inalienable relationship between Man and Nature.
POETRY OF SHADOWS
Shadows have been fascinating Diatto for a long time. From the eighties on, he started feeling and responding to the personal need to simulate shadows on canvas.
At the beginning of his work the shadow is a mellow one, just outlined, merely suggested. It underlines forms, it moves them from the background and leaves them floating in the space. With the transition to Diatto’s “ingenuous” period, the shadow becomes sharper and more and more geometric, let’s say more “ingenuous” itself.
During the last ten years, the realization of this need led Diatto to approach Tom Wesselmann’s teachings, Roger W. Sperry’s studies and Betty Edward’s theories. All these ideas stimulated, encouraged and supported him in his own research and pushed him to develop his skill to emphasize through his works the intuitive perception of contrast between shape and shadow, and between fullness and emptiness.
Cutting out the pictorial form is a natural evolution of this path, the answer to the need of bringing the form out of the two-dimensions of the canvas and to provide the pictorial fiction with a dignity tied to reality.
By cutting into the space Diatto creates a shadow that is clear, sharp, real, that is not only the shadow of the object, but also the shadow of the story: a shadow which is another story in itself. From this perspective, the shadow becomes to Diatto more important than the cut itself, and the cut becomes in a certain way functional to the shadow that it casts.
In the end, emphasizing the shadow is the answer to another call: the need of representing the dreams that anyone pursues, the hopes that we all nourish.
There is the little man who captures the moon and the stars and there is the dreamer who loves his mermaid. And there is the overall shape that allows us to capture the fleeting shadow so that it can keep on existing for a long time, evolving and changing in front of us, in front of our eyes.
© Raffaella Gallo, 2012
POETRY OF SYMBOLS AND FORMS
The butterfly, the lovers, the fruit basket all are signs and forms of a speech. The star, the moon and the little man all are signs or symbols of a speech. These are the forms and symbols that together create a long story, a tale which is as long as life itself. A single tale, a single text which has countless variants that Diatto has been making during his life, with obstinacy, or let us say, with method. And Diatto has always been working with method and living with method. When I say with method I mean by setting a problem, the different ways of research, the path to follow in the research. Behind the seeming diversity there is a pillar in Diatto’s thought, a pillar he never gave up on. And this is not only about the colors he uses. Of course they are important, an artist could be tempted to say: colors are all. But for Diatto it is not like that, it is not simply like that. For Diatto the research, the path to discover seems to be predominant (we will further on go back to the topic of the path, which is so important in Diatto’s work). It is a research that prevails on what has been searched, as if in the forms, in the symbols and in the colours, Diatto has been looking for something else.
It is plain that Diatto’s painting – and this word, painting, is by itself misleading, because his art is not only about painting – captures us beyond the simple esthetical considerations. Those obviously are not irrelevant, but are not enough. What captures us is the method. It is what we catch together and through the method.We were dealing with the forms: the butterfly, the fertile hand, the fruit basket or the lovers are for Diatto “noble holders” of the tale that they contain, a tale which is always the same and always different. The little man, the tree, the moon all are symbols, characters of a human play that “keep on repeating as a mantra” in a narration which is always new. But it is in the woods, which Diatto defines as the “main symbol”, that we find a summary of his poetry. It is in the forest, in the trees’ texture, that we can find the meaning and the reasons of the research, that we can find the method. A forest is thick, matted, and can either be cozy or scary. In the woods, trees come up, grow, die, the branches interweave and create an overall, wide pattern. A forest is a text. After all, the etymology of the word “text” refers to the Latin verb “téxere” which means “weave”, and this leads to “textus” which means “fabric”. A text/forest as a set of threads, of pictorial textures and linguistics lines help us to “not lose the thread”. And it is in the text/wood that Diatto places the little man who constantly unravels a red thread and through that thread holds the moon and the stars. It is in the woods, the “main symbol”, that the little man, as a Homer’s hero, tells us the essence of Nature, the last protector of a saviour dream in which man can rediscover his place in Nature itself. But the Nature Diatto refers to is not the one prevailing in a certain kind of [Italian] communication, in which anything lately has become “eco”: “ecocompatibile” or environmentally friendly, “eco ambientale” or environmental awareness, “eco turistico” or ecotourism, a communication where trash itself has been transformed into “ecoballe” or ecological bales. Diatto’s Nature is not a convenient Nature or an in-fashion one. On the contrary, his little man in the woods shows the material dimension of natural experience. He shows an individual experience that transforms itself into a collective one. In the woods the little man tries to put together spirit and material, individual research and shared values, because the forest is a text in which to look for meanings, a text is a forest where one can find values. Forests are, in these Diatto works, the essence of Nature, the one that we are wilfully outraging. That forest, that little man in the woods both tell us we are tied to the same destiny (here is again the thread’s topic), that we will save ourselves or we will die together.In that forest one can find oneself or get lost. Because it is in the woods that there are those that Martin Heidegger refers to as “holzwege” or “blocked paths”, small tracks that begin and end in the woods and that we have to follow, since we are in the woods. A forest is Life and the holzwege represent our search for the meaning of life. The holzwege are our soul’s paths, they are doubt and faith, fear and happiness, reason and instinct. Diatto’s holzwege are the research, which is clearly an individual research, because Diatto’s little man is alone and everyone has to go his own path, but this doesn’t mean that it is a solitary search. The little man goes into the woods, enters and walks, a walk that sometimes means losing himself. But, as Descartes said, if we walk in a straight line we will be able to get out of the woods. And if to do so, to get out of the thick forest we will need guides and guardians, we will have to carefully look around, to look inside ourselves. If the awareness, the sense of which path to take, rises from an individual search, then in the precious words of Plato, who answered to those who asked him who were the Guardians’ protectors: “Themselves, because before guarding the others you have to learn how to guard yourself”.
© Carlo Turco, 2012
Copyright © Claudio Diatto
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