Representation and representation by Nicolò Scibilia

They are compact bodies, white skins. They are suspensions and embraces, crossings and landslides. Everything returns. Thus that superimposition of planes: those frames inside frames inside frames, or that man upon man upon man, like the faculties of the mind or the infinite pockets of the ego. Ibsen described man as being like an onion. You seek the soul, the authentic nucleus, peeling layer after layer (the ego, the id, identities, the super-ego). Instead there is nothing at the centre: only the last leaf.

These figures are found continuously in the works of David Dalla Venezia: that bespectacled man, that distant woman, those white books that have never been written or have been written but are useless. That recurrence is a prop, it is making that void, that nothing, familiar, that always changing and unacceptable future. Like a ditty, says Deleuze, that a child sings in a dark room for reassurance, to give himself rhythm, a scheme that “springs from chaos to a beginning of order in chaos, and risks falling apart at any moment”. That chaos which is the absence of support, in other words, a continuous fall. And indeed, from the very first works, individuals fall, also literally: prae “forward”, caput “head” 1, therefore with the head forward, alone in the black scenario or else followed and buried in books, or else ripping each other to pieces with other “selves”, because the is no unity even in that drama, just a continuous devouring of the self, lacerating oneself in guilt, in ones own unaccomplished drives. Despite the clear, precise, limpid form the author knows, like Calvino, that we do not see the world from over the banister, as we did a hundred years ago. Now we see the world “falling down the stairwell” never stopping for a moment.

In the most recent paintings, however, there has been a change of direction, already anticipated in some previous works in “Sacra Conversazione” form. That figure, “his” bald bespectacled figure, takes up a pose. He is there, between the real frame of the painting and the painted frame, proud and martial with his standard which contains, almost deriding us, a fluttering, scarcely hinted landscape. He seems to be withdrawing from combat (life, sex, falling) and becomes an icon. He finally declares his art: here I am, look at me, left profile/right profile. Lower down, there, small and blocked in a spasm, there is another one (more similar to the author) who seems to rebel, who pits his own agitation against that immobility, that exiting from the world. Adismantled relationship, like he who as been left behind, he who stayed on “this side” of the frame, condemned to life. One of those many selves who, on other occasions, stands one on top of the other and on the head of the “principal character”, sill and inert, and who launches an attack, identify the objective or seems just about to take flight. Or leap into the void.

So, we return to that falling. Falling and happening 2, this time too in a literal sense: falling, falling towards, which means sinking into the becoming, where everything reveals itself. It means plunging into that cone of light that makes being apparent, that allows it in the “here and now” of reality, and of the psyche, and which, transfigured into art, makes it “always happening”, rescuing it from happening. And this is the potent paradox of figurative art: going beyond representation, representing it.


1) The Italian verb precipitare (to fall) has its roots in Latin, likewise the English verb to precipitate. 
2) The Italian verbs cadere (to fall) and accadere, from latin: ad-cadere “fall-towards”, (to happen) both have similar Latin roots.