Gino de Domicicis

Italy is the land of saints, poets, and navigators. The saint is a model of salvation. The poet celebrates the beauty of the world through art. The navigator discovers terrae incognitae. Gino De Dominicis plays all these roles at the same time.

In this display of the artist’s work, a single spotlight, placed in the middle of a supporting structure, provided the only illumination. The light was turned toward the spectators, who entered near a wall upon which a huge drawing had been rendered. The drawing is a variation on one from 1980, Urvasi e Ghilgamesh: two profiles facing each other, one presumably female, the other male, one linear and fluid, the other slashed and bristling. On the opposite wall, to the left of the spectator, was an oval mirror, reflecting everything save the image of the observer or that of any other analogous human presence: a test for vampires.

The saint tells us that salvation lies in the immobile fixity of two royal figures that face each other without interpenetrating. The poet tells us that the essential stroke of the drawing, its brilliant delineation, is only an element of a broader and more complex structure. This other structure makes use of simple theatrical mechanisms and banal tricks, so that it is necessary to believe and not believe, to assume a skeptical stance in order to be open to its theatrical charm. In this way, one can push one’s thoughts beyond the image and haul them alongside the notion of thinking as a concrete process. The meaning of the art, immaterial and impalpable, is suspended in the misleading penumbra of the theater, which we have entered voluntarily in order to allow ourselves to be astonished. It is the theater which, in our avid belief, we have helped to build, and which now excludes our participation. The navigator tells us that the point of arrival is deceiving: in effect, we have never moved from whence we departed. It is not a question of a new continent or a new planet; we discover simulations which we want to believe in and respond to, because we have helped to create them. Indeed, in the work that simulates a point of arrival, there is no place for us; seeing, observing, impassioned or distracted, ingenuous or blasé, believing or agnostic—we are not there. We remain forever in wonderland, unable to go back through the looking glass.

Thus desire remains the only patron of the space that is not oriented to any time. At the edges of the work, in front of the mirror that doesn’t reflect, the one who has undertaken the voyage once more receives true immobility and distance. The flickering profiles of Urvasi and Gilgamesh acquire the smile of false consolation, because even if it is certain that the voyage has not taken place, it is equally certain that all return is impossible, is precluded.

As usual, De Dominicis’ impulse is a negative one. He is dealing with an all-encompassing assumption which resembles a cosmology, and his latest work could be described as apodictic. As in the work of Edgar Allan Poe, these expressions are carried out in the spirit of doom. The double is revealed with great clarity: the double Urvasi and Gilgamesh, the female and the male, the fluid linearity and the cutting slashes, the lucid stroke that marks the figures and the opacity of the background, light and shadow, the luminous source that delineates the drawn image and the light of the mirror that gives access to the reflected image, the light that radiates outward to illuminate the other and the light that absorbs into itself the light of other things. And finally that place where we are not, that image devoid of us; it is we who observe it with our glance, to push the deception to its limit.

Pier Luigi Tazzi

Translated from the Italian by Meg Shore.