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  • Writer's pictureRomina Rosso

In Between - Fabio Viale


Fabio Viale, In Between.Venere Italica at Royal Museum Turin 2021 credits Sofia Caprioglio

The Royal Museums of Turin are hosting till the 9th of January “In Between”, the first solo exhibition in Turin of Fabio Viale, one of the most famous sculptors in the contemporary international scene.

After the solo exhibition at the Glyptothek Museum in Munich (2018), the exhibitions at Venice Pavilion in the Biennale (2019) and in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow (2019), in 2020 Fabio Viale was celebrated in the capital of the artistic works in marble Pietrasanta with the exhibition Truly.

Viale is an expert marble sculptor and an illusionist of the texture, able to transform the marble in Styrofoam, paper, tyres, and plastic. In 2002 he achieved the fame thank to the work Aghalla, a small boat carved in an entire block of marble, and launched in the sea in front of the quarries lunensi and took in a tour in several Italian cities and abroad.

Viale, since his first works, involved his art with the masterpieces of the classical art, creating perfect copies of famous sculptures as The Venus de Milo, the Laocoön and His Sons or the works of Canova, in which the artist overwrites new values with the removal of a part of the composition (emblematic is the Pietà of Michelangelo with the Christ chiselled away) or his process of tattooing, realised with a technique invented by the artist.

In the last years he developed the subject of illusion on marble of material as tyres, wood, Styrofoam and paper. The extraordinary quality of the works attired the attention of the international critics and created a group of followers of this technique.

The growing success and the numerous requests of his works took to a creation of a complex atelier, where close to the work of highly skilled assistants was strategic the used of new technologies as digital automation.

His artistic work starts in the Carrara quarries, place where the block of marble is selected and where the first artistic idea took place.

In the case of a replica of an existing work present in a museum or a cast or a common object, it is created a 3d virtual model through the Photogrammetry technology with high resolution pictures.

In a workshop in the quarries, the block of marble is placed in a computerized numerical control machine, a robot with axes of several dimension controller by the computer, that shape a rough version of the model inserted. This helps to cut 70% of the initial work, but detailed work as to sharp the corners, to create deep cavity or the drapery of the sculpture are not done by the machinery, they need to be handmade.

The next step is to bring the block in his studio in Turin, where the artists and his assistants will work in the most complex stage of the work.

After have done the cavity and clean the surface, the sculptor has to work to the skin of the sculpture, the last two millimetres in which the artist defines the volumes and details of the anatomic part.

Hand drills, hydraulic cutters, chisels , metal tips and files are used by the sculptor to define the shape till the small details.

The last stage is the finishing of the surface texture, that gives the grade of smoothness and opacity of the surface, this is the vibrato that will give expressivity to the work. This stage is the most delicate and decisive to the final result.

In the case of the tattoo sculptures, the process is similar to the human tattoo. It starts from the draft in the surface and inserts ink into the surface via a single needle or a group of needles as in a normal process of tattooing.

Fabio Viale, Portrait Credits Manfredi Giachini

This work is really long and tiring as no errors are allowed.

At the end of the process is applied a protective stabiliser for the colours.

The exhibition In Between in Turin explains in a contemporary way the lines and the subjects of the classical art with the eternal’s model of beauty and it was taught to make interact the urban and public spaces with the museum one.

In front of Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace of Turin) in Piazzetta Reale (External court) are displayed several famous classical sculptures.


Fabio Viale, Souvenir David 2020, detail, credits Nicolo Campo, DB-Studio
Fabio Viale, Souvenir David, 2020, credits Nicolo Campo DB-Studio

Souvenir David depicts the face of the David created by Michelangelo, symbol of the intelligence and courage of the citizens of Florence, transformed by Viale in a monumental mask of David in which the artist used for the first time is technique of tattooing.

The marks realised in the marbles by Viale are a personal combination of the more actual tattooing fashion style, from the one inspired by the Japanese criminal world to the new one inspired to the south American and Trapper culture.

The artist said: “I am started so many years ago, realising these tattooed sculptures with a person called Nicolai Lillin, who wrote a book that was the base for the movie by Gabriele Salvatores “Siberian Education”. He introduced me in the Russian criminal tattoo world, that is a world of symbols, crosses, pistols, extremely rich of histories. This aspect, I thought, that can give a meaning to the work. My desire is that the marble becomes skin and that the tattoo shows more this aspect of metamorphosis”.

Fabio Viale, Venus de Milo, 2021, credits Nicolo Campo, DB-Studio

In the External Court there is a copy of the famous Venus de Milo with tattoo of the Russian Mafia where the tattoos are a code pass it on to the next generations.

In the court is also display the iconic and dramatic sculpture of the Laocoön, that in the original included also his two sons attacked by giant serpents. The sculpture was found in 1506 in Rome in the Esquiline hill and identified with the work described by Pliny the Elder and attributed to the Rhodian sculptors Agesander, Athenodoros, and Polydorus.

Viale tattooed in the Laocoön the symbols of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The Japanese tattoos are one of the finest and more beautiful in the world, colourful and full of different shadows.



Fabio Viale, Laocoön 2020, credits Nicolò Campo DB-Studio
Fabio Viale, Laocoön 2020, tattoo detail, credits Nicolò Campo DB-Studio

In the Laocoön we can see a tiger symbol against demons and disease, it is connected with the autumn and is considered the centre of strength and courage.

Fabio Viale, the Belvedere Torso, 2020, credits Nicolò Campo,DB-Studio
Fabio Viale, the Belvedere Torso,2020, tattoo detail, credits Nicolò Campo, DB-Studio

Another tattoo of the yakuza is in the Belvedere Torso, probably depicting the Greek hero Ajax the Great, who in his back had tattooed a carp symbol of fortune, tenacity and perseverance, discipline and obedience, and water symbol of change and accommodation to life.

The last sculpture in the court is the Kouros, the Gaddi Torso, thought to represent a centaur, copied by many artists for his remarkable anatomical rendering, considered so perfect that was never completed with the missing parts.

Fabio Viale, Kouros 2020, credits Nicolò Campo, DB-Studio
Fabio Viale, Door Release, 2021, credits Nicolò Campo, DB-Studio

In the Main Court of the Royal Palace is displayed the work Door realise, the hand of the colossal sculpture of Constantine the Great decorated with Russian Tattoos.

Fabio Viale, The Venus Italica 2016, credits Nicolò Campo, DB-Studio
Fabio Viale, The Venus Italica 2016, tattoo detail, credits Nicolò Campo, DB-Studio

In the Main staircase of the Royal Palace is possible to admire The Venus Italica, symbol of the ideal neoclassical beauty with her back tattooed with cherry blossom that in the Japanese culture are the emblem of courage used by the samurai, by the yakuza and by Viale as a representative of women.

In the Swiss Guard Hall was exhibited Cupid and Psyche, one of the most famous works of Antonio Canova, inspired by the myth of The Metamorphoses of Apuleius. Viale with this sculpture open a bridge between the West and the East and give a voice to the women. Only Psyche had tattoos with traditional Afghan marks.

Fabio Viale, Cupid and Psyche, 2021, credits Nicolò Campo, DB-Studio

The sculpture was removed on the 13th of December to be replaced by The Three Graces.

The sculpture depicted three women reminder of the Greek myths and the masterpiece by Canova, but revisited by Viale as three women sitting in a bus stop in Ghardaïa as the sculptor saw in one of his travels in Maghreb.

Fabio Viale, The Three Graces, 2021, credits Nicolò Campo, DB-Studio

Ghardaïa, is an Algerian city of prevalent Muslim faith, were women dressed up with the traditional haik, a rectangular white fabric covering the whole body except for one eye, that makes think about the personal freedom. Viale created in this work a visual and semantic connection between the personal protective equipment (PPE), as the mask, and The three Graces, underlining the symbology of the veil and the new relationship base on adaptation and hesitation with people with covered face.

In The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (Cattedrale di San Giovanni) in the beautiful chapel of the Holy Shroud is displayed the work Souvenir Pietà. The artist shows the body of Christ taking by the Piety by Michelangelo, torn from the embrace of the Virgin Mary and suspended on black marble base.

Fabio Viale, Souvenir Pietà Cristo, 2004, credits Nicolò Campo, DB-Studio

Only in the tragedy of his martyrdom, the body seems left to a higher will, accepting a sufferance that becomes a metaphor for the human condition and for the salvation of the world.

The last sculpture of the exhibition is in the Royal Armory and it i

, an ancient armor in pink marble, perfectly wearable, made on the basis of a high-resolution three-dimensional scan of the body of the famous Italian rapper Fedez, which it is loaned to play on the theme of heroisation of the public figure.

Fabio Viale, Lorica, 2021, credits Nicolò Campo, DB-Studio
Fabio Viale, Lorica, 2021, detail, credits Nicolò Campo, DB-Studio





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