Gianluca Esposito and Fabio Maria Alecci have combined their respective artistic research and professional backgrounds in a single space, giving life to the PRIMA STANZA HOME GALLERY, an eclectic and hybrid space that is simultaneously studio, home and gallery. An extended Wunderkammer in which artists and visitors are immersed and which has one of its strong points in the plural, magical and fantastic figure. We interviewed them to find out how this project was born, how it is evolving and how their works and their experimentation, which at times also meets fiber art, coexist.
How did the idea of opening a HOME GALLERY in a small village in Central Italy come about?
The Prima Stanza Home Gallery represents the conscious translation into a project of a formula experimented in our last months of residence in the capital, when due to a series of fortuitous vicissitudes we found ourselves permanently inhabiting what until recently was simply our studio and the permanent exhibition space for our works.
The total immersion in the places of creativity, the need to adapt them to the often prosaic tasks of daily life have enlightened us about the natural continuity between the two areas although we tend to place a specious caesura between them: after all, the home is always a place of self-representation and self-narration, even more so for those who deal with art.The fact that in the construction of this hybrid space we still made use of the attitudes, practical skills and visions underlying much of our professional research showed us how fluidly we can move between the two spheres, how much life flows physiologically into work. and vice versa and how the possibility of sharing this dimension with others without mediation could nourish the work itself, strengthening our identity as artists.
The move to the small village of Vitorchiano, induced by the profound transformations produced by COVID in our lives and beyond, allowed us to start from scratch with the clarity we had acquired and to look for a space that had the potential to develop this intuition.
The HOME GALLERY phenomenon is growing almost everywhere. What is the difference with an artist studio?
The main difference perhaps lies in the mental freedom to which the opening of private spaces for exhibition purposes forces you, the implicit possibility of experimenting in a more casual and informal way with new display formulas which are coherent and effective without betraying the need to be able to “inhabit” a place.
The intimacy that is produced in the relationship with the guest/user then allows us to mutually break down a whole series of superstructures more quickly and guarantees that the meeting takes place first of all on a human level and only then on a professional level…Or perhaps it would be more correct to say that the two levels overlap almost automatically, regardless of whether they are “expert” visitors or simply curious.
Not that this is not possible in an artist’s studio, but we believe that welcoming our associates into our home represents an even more generous and honest way of making our work known… I would dare say even more courageous: if it is true that the house tells about its owner it is also true that it is not he who decides to what limits this story should go, even if most of the time we are convinced of the opposite.
Let us also consider the fact that the visitor finds himself catapulted into a surreal dimension that simultaneously participates in different natures: it is a gallery, but less formal than a gallery, it is a studio/laboratory, but also a place for the organized narration of work, it is a house in which the works are inhabited and integrated into everyday life…A home gallery necessarily produces a complex suggestion, because its identity is complex and protean.
How do you combine the work space with the living space with the exhibition space? What are the difficulties and advantages?
Let’s start with the advantages: the possibility of continuous access to one’s creative space, without the burdens one has to face when it is far from home, of reconciling daily urgencies with professional problems by virtue of the coincidence of places, undoubtedly represents a plus .
As for the disadvantages, we could give exactly the same answer! You can undoubtedly experience moments of saturation that you need to learn to manage.
The only note unquestionably in favor of this formula is the optimization of expenses, which given the times is no small thing.
How does your HOME GALLERY work? What is the typical visitor?
We must start by saying that LA PRIMA STANZA HOME GALLERY is certainly a physical place, but also the code with which we sign works that we could improperly define as created by four hands: through the reasoned combination of the works of both, born in different contexts and different occasions within very distinct research paths, in recent years we have created immersive environmental installations, trying to build new paths of meaning that identify shared moments of reflection.
This opportunity evolves the potential that we have discovered by honoring the practical need to use the same place for the exhibition of our work: the personal discourse of both is enriched in dialogue and allows us to delve into latent levels of meaning, not priorities, but still active within the work which, like the word in verbal language, is a complex vehicle of stratified meanings.
Starting from this formula, which we will not abandon because it is the very foundation of our Home gallery project, however, more and more often we are also experimenting with the creation of fully shared installation works by making reference materials, subjects and intuitions available to each other that lead to a totally shared authorship of the work in all aspects, from its conceptual elaboration to the physical realization of its elements.
Returning to our atelier in Vitorchiano, LA PRIMA STANZA HOME GALLERY is open to the public almost every weekend, from Saturday morning to Sunday evening (through our Instagram and Facebook page we give concrete information on visiting hours and any changes). Access is direct from the street, but having to overcome several stair steps the visibility of the space is neither immediate nor total from the outside.
This means that only the most daring are able to overcome their embarrassment and visit us: we like to think that the amazement in the eyes of those who find themselves immersed in the atmosphere of what we like to call our Wunderkammer is the reward for those who have found the courage to give in to curiosity, a word which, when used in the right sense, represents for us a synonym of virtue.The fact of finding ourselves in a small village in Tuscia, splendid and at the same time so distant in its medieval austerity from our artistic proposal, with a Pop and Surreal flavour, according to what we are told, makes the experience almost alienating, producing a curious, but benevolent dystopian effect.
Access is clearly free and it is not uncommon for people to find us immersed in work or busy re-arranging, but each visit still becomes an opportunity for exchange and discussion, so much so that people met by chance come back to visit us out of curiosity to discover the evolution of the space, alive and changing by force of circumstances, perhaps arranging a meeting even beyond the usual opening days.
We cannot say that we have one typical visitor, but certainly many types of visitors given the nature of the place: Tuscia has always been a center of attraction for a cultured and savvy public, coming above all from Rome and from the central north, which is generally more casual when crossing the threshold of the house, but even those who are less familiar with contemporary art and perhaps look at us with more distrust always don’t fail to get involved.
From a demographic point of view, the age of the visitors is extremely varied.
Among your proposals – works and workshops – there is no shortage of textile materials or fibres, including recovered or recycled ones, as well as techniques attributable to the textile sector. How do you use these languages in your work and research?
What really made our artistic partnership possible, despite conducting substantially independent research paths, was undoubtedly the common sensitivity and strong interest in the applied arts which for both of us represent an irreplaceable starting point in the work, both in terms of technical skills and experimentation on very different materials, from traditional ones such as terracotta to reuse and recovery ones such as plastic or aluminum from food preservation, through wood, paper, fabric and so on.
Although we both move in the wake of the figurative, the material, with its potential autonomy of narrative, represents an always active tool in the elaboration and creation of our artefacts, fully claiming in its use all the ambiguity of this term, which makes of our works intellectual and at the same time artisanal products.
More specifically, the use of fabrics and sewing represents for Fabio the return to his family origins, to that home tailoring which in our provinces has produced objects of extraordinary refinement over time and is certainly at the basis of his re-elaboration of the archetypal imagery and the Sicilian natural and cultural horizon.The choice of this medium, which by making use of a rigorous technique would seem very distant from freer and more gestural forms of expression, allows him on the contrary to let the hand be guided in his work by the evocative power of familiar gestures because they are familiar, and to conduct an exploration of inner reality and of the world which can go further the more it keeps its roots firm.
Within this research he has also rendered reused and recovered plastic materials which, transformed according to procedures and methods developed over the last 25 years, bring this inert medium to the valuable elegance of the richest fibers and of glass at the same time: this is particularly evident from some of his sculpture dresses that integrate the P.E.T. and PVC with natural elements such as vegetable hair, used in the past for the padding of upholstery, but also for functional sculptures close to design, an area which he approached thanks to the long collaboration with the Interior designer Walter Di Paola which lasted until to 2017.
As far as I am more directly concerned, I realize that paper fibre, whether precious or reused, becomes in my journey as an artist a storytelling tool at least as fundamental as the search for a personal graphic sign. It is never a simple support for my work, but further space for the elaboration of meaning: the same practice of image construction through the collage technique of woodcut prints and drawings, the superposition of worked and framed papers, the construction of different thicknesses and different textures guarantee the sheet a sound and a presence that make it something equal if not a priority compared to the image itself, so as to allow me to escape often from pure two-dimensionality, exploring “narrative” work formulas such as the diorama and the creation of woodcut sculptures.
In the same way I tried to explore the possibility of giving volume to the paper by inserting various padding materials and fibers that would give the paper softness and mass, inflating the flat surface without betraying it. After all, paper in its potential for unorthodox and anti-academic use represents the oldest and most confident tool in my creative history, certainly among the media most suited to research focused on the world of childhood, play and toys such as primary means of discovery, interpretation and construction of reality. The use I make of it therefore becomes coherent with the research I conduct on other materials such as ceramic or recycled aluminum foil.
What projects are in prospect? How will your HOME GALLERY evolve?
These days we are engaged in the creation of an installation for the Municipality of Vitorchiano, whose administration has proven to be open and sensitive to contemporary art, entitled KEYS OF (UN)TURN-POINT which will occupy the facade of the palace of culture, next to the Town Hall. A site-specific work that speaks of welcome, care, openness and integration, but above all of the need to make a precise choice of field in the use we want to make of our humanity in the relationship with others.
After that we will focus on the proposal of workshops, both immersive and continuous in duration, which allow people to have various types of work experiences, starting from the eclecticism that distinguishes both in the use of materials and techniques, from ceramics to plastics, from paper and cardboard to fabric. Finally, we are working to identify a place that, in parallel with the specific activity of our space, will also allow us to host the work of other artists for temporary personal and collective exhibitions.
Fabio Maria Alecci, born in Catania in 1965, graduated from the State Institute of Art and gained numerous experiences in the field of theater tailoring. In 1989 he moved to Rome where he began his journey in the visual arts. Also active in the field of theatrical and cinematographic scenography,from 2000 to 2017 he collaborated with the interior designer Walter Di Paola creating the cultural association ALECCI E DI PAOLA, committed to the issues of eco-sustainability and recycling, where it has gained extensive experience in the creative reuse of PET. Since 2017 he has actively collaborated with the artist Gianluca Esposito, first creating STUDIO BIXIO 41 in Rome and since 2021 LA PRIMA STANZA HOME GALLERY in Vitorchiano (VT).
Gianluca Esposito was born in Rome in 1976. With a humanistic education, after his debut as a theater and cinema actor and some experiences in the field of scenography for cinema and television, he soon focused his interest on the visual arts, moving between sculpture and graphic work. In 2017 he created STUDIO BIXIO 41 in Rome in collaboration with the artist Fabio Maria Alecci with whom in 2021 he opened LA PRIMA STANZA HOME GALLERY in Vitorchiano (VT).