Photographer: Federico Ghiani @ghianinson
We met with Francesco Vullo, a young artist with extraordinary critical sensitivity and original analytical skills on the aspects and contradictions of a society dominated by the power of social media, by an immense aesthetic cult, and dualism between fragility and strength, without falling into clichè.
He comes from Palermo, emblematic of diverse and profound culture, deep-rooted in those who breathed those centuries of history but well integrated with the contemporary language of a generation that has established new communication codes, like the Millenials.
Inside his office, a post-atomic shelter in the heart of Milan, he tells us the elements at the basis of his research, which is currently focusing on sculpture and installation. Ordinary objects, stolen from their original context, take on a symbolic value, conveying multiple meanings according to a new collocation or to the viewer to recall different feelings and emotional states.
His extraordinary technical ability is instrumental in showing dynamics such as the emotional sphere of the human being and his/her relationship with the surrounding natural environment. This is a direct consequence of the relationship with his homeland, Sicily, which becomes food for thought, highlighting a visceral bond as strong as complex.
The series Environmental Alteration belongs to this current. Here the artist can give a sensation of natural softness to rocks, apparently in disharmony with the true nature of the object, representing them as they were bearings squeezed by cable ties on a steel beam. They are the cuticchi, the typical rocks blunted by the sea, which he collects from the Sicilian coasts. Their natural shape, obtained through sea erosion over the decades, is in net contrast with the rapidity with which human intervention can modify the environment disruptively and irreversibly.
After The Night rotates around the figure of artisans, which is in deep crisis nowadays, and the value of passed-down traditions. These are realities that we are not used to anymore, owing to the emergence of large distribution and mass production. A broken circular saw, found by chance in a locksmith’s workshop, is restored with the traditional Japanese technique of Kintsugi, symbolically associated with rebirth. The cracks on the sawblade are repaired and embellished with Urushi lacquer and 24-carat gold through a long and meticulous process. Behind the saw blade, the two names of the previous owners are engraved, a detail that tells us the story and the object’s journey over the years. It is a metaphor for the passage between generations, a heritage of knowledge and traditions.
Ourself is a travertine marble column, a symbol of balance, stability, and security, and it is in contrast with the tape for packing with the inscription FRAGILE. The reels of duct-tape commonly used to identify fragile objects become essential elements to balance the structure and support the marble weight. In this way, two elements coexisting in human nature, strength and fragility, become part of the same object. These two factors become integrated and complement each other.
Overthinking is a trap used for the hunting of wild animals. It symbolizes a shared psychological state in this time of identity crisis. It has the shape of a speech bubble as a reference to overthinking. The alteration of an existing model gives a new identity to the object while still maintaining its primary meaning with its sharp tips. It is the perfect representation of a mental state: a constant and continuous stream of thoughts that traps the mind and puts it in a state of confusion.
According to Francesco Vullo, each material has its reason for being, like the details never left to chance. Each element has something to tell, while the aesthetic shape contributes to defining its content and adds value: beauty.
In his Hourglass, which represents the ineluctability of time, the lower bell is trapped in a concrete block. The sand going down represents the past, transferred into a defined physical space. A time that you cannot change, in contrast with that object that you can actually flip and reset. You cannot change your past; you have to accept it.