Ilio Fiengo
Torno Ieri

March 11, 2017

Naivety, irony, comedy, existential despair are intertwined with the amazement of the subtleties of nature. A set of elements that make up reality - language, objects, things, gestures - and which become reasons for aesthetic and poetic reflection. These are some aspects of Ilio Fiengo’s work and, to codify them, one cannot rely on logic and deduction, rather on an emotional intelligence that knows how to orient itself between landscapes of memory, figures, symbolic animals, organs, functions and systems different to the interior of a ferociously and deliberately sparse artistic practice.

Fiengo’s work always appears poised between past and present: some materials seem to come from forgotten times, an archaic past, a peasant capable of connecting to universal themes in a way that demonstrates a deep understanding and assimilation of the experiences of contemporary art of the twentieth century in constant confrontation with the present.

Enrico Bertelli

Alessandra and I met Ilio Fiengo at a friend’s house when we moved from Mexico City to Livorno. A painting that appeared to be made up of a single frame hung on one of the walls of our mutual friend’s house. It was just dust. Ilio had recovered a glass that had been forgotten for a long time, accumulating layers of dust and with a couple of strokes of his fingers removed some of the material, leaving traces of his sudden gesture. It seemed to me of a brilliant simplicity.

The slightest gesture concentrated in itself a drama that took shape from nothing, without pretensions.

We talked for a couple of hours and we haven’t seen each other for years. Ilio is a silent type, but in confidence he fills you with his thoughts. He is lonely, he works in absolute privacy in his studio without the need to show what he does.

It is said and repeated that the work takes place after the meeting with the viewer. In Ilio’s case, this statement seems rhetorical. Much of our intellectual and cultural activity is created and materialized in the repetition of these statements. It is as if the gesture does not it was enough to materialize beauty, as if for the inertia of the verb the need to speak and make art needed rhetoric, the one that sifts all reality.

This is not the case with Ilio. Ilio is like a flea, that of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in “A Thousand Plateaus”, that little animal that masterfully realizes each of its affections, without the need for rhetoric, without the need for a spectator. And that’s the point. Ilio is based on itself and does not expect more. And this frees him from any constraint and any need beyond his studio, his daily walking, to contemplate the beauty that resides, for example, in the encounter between glass and dust - in the same way Man Ray had noticed on Duchamp’s large glass - either in the falling of a leaf from the tree or in the functional rituals of a farmer’s life.

It reminds me of American Beauty, Alan Ball and Sam Mendes movies, particularly this passage:

“Do you want to see the most beautiful thing I ever filmed? It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing. And there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it, right? And this bag was just… dancing with me… like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That’s the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid. Ever. Video is a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember… I need to remember… Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world… I feel like I can’t take it… and my heart is just going to cave in.” (Ricky Fitts)

text and photos:
Juan Pablo Macías
January, 2019

Torno ieri
Ilio Fiengo


March-April 2017
An exhibition and editorial project by Carico Massimo

Editorial coordination
Juan Pablo Macías
& Federico Cavallini
Graphic project
Juan Pablo Macías
Printed by
Media Print Livorno (Italy)
February, 2019
300 copies
ISBN: 978-88-32032-08-6