Gino de Dominicis

Galleria Pio Monti

Gino de Dominicis’ work takes the space itself as its subject, examining it along three different lines—physical, projected, symbolic—that interact simultaneously.

On the level of immediate observation, one is struck by the unusual division of space in the gallery, which is cut from floor to ceiling by a section of a steel cage that isolates a portion of the room. The space created inside and outside the barriers is the physical level on which one relates to this enigmatic and disquieting work. It is presented as a void, but set apart. The immediate question, then, is who and what is behind or in front of the barriers? The antithetical relation between the two opposing elements of the banal and the sublime, the spectator and the artist, separated by the cage, creates a tension that is made apparent by the division that separates them: the obstruction or gate or barrier. De Dominicis’ object, then, defines itself as a dividing line, subtle yet heavy, between two possible residences, but whether one views it from one point or another, what remains is a sense of vertigo. We are in the realm of the metaphysical, where encounters are cloaked in mystery. Every spectator who walks into the gallery enters a place of absence and silence, in which one feels that the possibility of any kind of event, any materialization in the physical sphere, has been sucked into a white hole.

But calm, and silence, surround the high point of revelation. The appearance of the barriers is like the stunned silence which follows the unmasking of a sham: the separation between the two spaces is real, but it can be broken, thereby allowing a spilling over or invasion from one cage to the other. The object seems to be constructed according to a precise design, an exact geometry of intersecting lines, but the opposition established between the horizontality and verticality of the barriers is placed in crisis by the opening up of an elliptical space, which breaks the harmony. It is as if someone were behind the barriers and had forced them open to get out, but one doesn’t know if the goal is to be inside or outside. A hole suddenly appears at the center of the system, which negates the rigidity of the separation of the two spaces; the equilibriums totter. This breaking of a rigid, logical and rational plan verifies itself through a fracture, produced by a force or tension, that demonstrates the fragility of order. And so the barrier’s role as exact indicator of the space is replaced by one with negative connotations, that of being an obstruction between the two residences. Within that space lies the error of calculation, the false move, the unforeseeable, the trap, all of which bring down the certainties inherent in euclidean structures. What emerges is the falsehood implicit in every attempt at order, the ambiguity of the rule.

Yet another ambiguity exists on the symbolic level: what is the space from which we are fleeing, when we go from one space to the other? Given its regularity, the interrupted design establishes on its own the concept of transgression; the static antagonism between two portions of space introduces a spatio-temporal hypothesis of hardship. A nearby ladder is a clue to a past trespass, or an invitation to participate in a current psychodrama: we are left with the uncomfortable choice of deciding which of the two areas constitutes the cage. One is led to believe that either side could be the illusion, and that some one has already found a way out and is, indeed, already free. This certainty, however, remains disquieting, without any real possibility of being verified.

Ida Panicelli