Romolo Del Deo's new series of sculptures, Alchemia, seem to represent a ritual reenactment of the original creation itself. The sculptor has transformed the earth into art; much like the alchemists from the early Christian era sought to transform base metal into gold. Indeed, Mark Daniel Cohen in his essay in the March 1999 Review, covering Del Deo's exhibition at Bridgewater/Lustberg Gallery in New York says that:
Del Deo's citation of the alchemical heritage is evident in the works themselves, in their implication of element after element having been tested for its capability of transformation, for its viability in the making of art.
These figurative bronzes hold the power of unearthed antiquities. Fragmented, broken, distressed, they are, according to the artist, "forms and images that I imagine myself exhuming like archaeological finds..." But these fractured classical figures, beautiful and elegiac in their brokeness, are not unearthed artifacts. They are made now. And in the making the artist employs the broken image to examine the bridge between the past and present, between what lasts and what falls away, what is transformed in the process of artmaking, what begins anew. The viewer is reminded that what is present before him isn't everything, that in whatever is here now, there is the powerful presence of what is absent. In these figures, their posture, their gestures, in the graceful, careless drape of their garment, Del Deo expresses the deep sadness of that reality. Yet, Cohen says, "what counts principally for the viewer is what counts most in figurative sculpture – the gesture of the form." And there, there is clearly hope in the striving stances and gestures, the straining toward heaven and freedom from earthly origins.
Del Deo uses a reductive process in his making his figures. "I cast a figure [whole], then I begin removing pieces, break off an arm, shorten a let, that sort of thing. I also my leave some of the rough edges on a particular figure." Sometimes he uses acids to age the piece. The pieces range in scale from the monumental to the miniature. They are clothed in patinas of blue, green, red, yellow and brown, colors evocative of the mellow atmosphere of a Mediterranean landscape. Most pieces are modeled directly in was with no preliminary medium. These sculptures are created in the true lost wax process, like the work of the Greeks and Etruscans. In bot process and form, Romolo Del Deo calls us to look again to our classical past, to our inhumane history, and to our struggle and survival, broken as we are. Poet and art critic Mark Doty has said..."The sculptor seems an archeologist of a kind of ancient emotional history whose precise meaning we'll never know." But we feel it as if it were ours. For as Cohen suggests, "The striving stances and gestures of the cracked and piecemeal forms convey to the viewer, carried across the feelings enacted by the postures, the emotions causing such gestures, causing such emotions in the witness – as figurative art will do."
Romolo Del Deo has been sculpting since his childhood in Provincetown when he studied under a number of sculptors, as well as his father, painter Salvatore Del Deo. When he was 18 he traveled to Pietrasanta, Italy where he was able to focus on marble carving and bronze casting as apprentice to Rin Ginnanini, Professor of Sculpture at Carrara, Italy. He attended Harvard College where he studied under Dimitri Hadzi and the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy. He now lives and works in New York.
His sculpture has won awards from the National Sculpture Society, International Sculpture Symposiums in Italy, and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. He is represented by the Bridgewater/Lustberg Gallery in New York, and has had recent sell-out exhibitions both there and in Denmark. His work is included in many private and public collections, including the Municipal Artistic Archives in Carrara, Italy, the Museum of Outdoor Sculpture in Fannano, Italy, and Smith College Museum of Fine Arts in Northhampton, MA.View more of Romolo's work on his web site (will open in a new window).