Baldo Diodato
Pedibus calcantibus

Curator: Daina Maja Titonel
Critical essay by Ilaria Bulgarelli

September 21 - October 21, 2017


selected works


>> Baldo Diodato's video portrait <<

MAC Maja Arte Contemporanea is delighted to present Baldo Diodato's first solo exhibit within its walls, entitled Pedibus calcantibus. On display twelve works, one frottage and eleven casts. In 2016, the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (National Modern Art Gallery in Rome) hosted an anthological exhibit of Diodato's work, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva.

Pedibus calcantibus is a Latin phrase; it means "on foot, with one's own legs" and is often cited playfully. Here, it indicates the artist's desire to carry his viewers down Rome's ancient streets; the virtual walk begins in Piazza Montecitorio and ends in Piazza del Collegio Romano, and it is punctuated by the urban landscapes condensed into the ground.

Literally, the phrase reads "with feet touching the ground," evoking the act through which Diodato reproduces a cast of the Roman pavement, the true protagonist of this group of works completed between 2001 and 2017. To realize his works, Diodato places aluminum sheets on the ground and allows the footwork of pedestrians to model them, finishing the molds with the help of a hammer. Through its symbolic Sanpietrini, the eternal city reveals its shape: the metal casts capture and crystallize its timeless skin, yielding a sculpture.

"I am not merely looking to reproduce the image of the Sanpietrini, I want to capture the traces left by people passing through as they combine with the markings of time, which have molded the stone, softening its edges. It's as if I were sculpting time itself, by seizing the things that happened to a single space over the years," Diodato says of his work, noting that his molds seek to be a witness to time perceived both through the changing silhouette of the stone and the colorful footprints that have touched it.

As ancestral marks, the footprints allow viewers to reconstruct a movement that has been frozen in time, while matter attempts to render a single gesture eternal. A 'collective self' leaves a trace of its passing through; history, past, and future meet in this series.

The exhibition is part of Rome Art Week program (October 9-14) and participates to The Day of Contemporary Art (October 14) organized by AMACI, a not-for-profit association of the most important contemporary art museums in Italy.



BALDO DIODATO - Short Bio

Baldo Diodato was born in Naples in 1938. His formation took place at the Academy of Turin and at the Academy of Fine Arts of Naples, where he studied sculpture with Emilio Greco and Augusto Perez. His debut dates back from the sixties, with sculptures made of iron threads and rugs, similar to the works of Calder, Giacometti and Perez himself.

In 1966, he proposed his work at the Modern Art Agency of Lucio Amelio and in the following years he took part in the cultural debate upon Parthenopean sculpting. With other artists, he formed "Operativo Sud 64", with Achille Bonito Oliva, too, as theorist of the group.

From 1966 there on, he moved to the United States, where he lived and worked until 1992, settling in New York, which was particularly stimulating at the time for its very active artistic milieu. There, the artist found new aesthetical references as a starting point for his personal experimentation.

His early performances were thus born: Diodato covered streets, squares, and parks with canvases, capturing a collective frottage, the movement of those passing by. His works become the fruit of a collaboration, as a 'collective we' replaced the 'artistic I.'

In 1974, he laid out a 6-by-6 meter canvas in JFK Square in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, transforming the space into a stage of living sculptures. In those years, his works were displayed at The New Jersey State Museum, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and at Mercer Community College in Trenton. In 1976, New York's Alexandria Gallery welcomed the "One Man Show" performance, during which Diodato covered the entire gallery (600 sq meters) with two layers of canvas, separated by a thin sheet of copy paper, to create an enormous frottage.

In 1992, he moved to Rome, where he currently resides, and where he continued his artistic research by combining a rekindled European identity with his twenty-five-year experience within the avant-garde movement in New York. His works are distinguished by his ability to capture the atmosphere of the places he inhabits: baroque Naples' cheerfulness; New York's frantic pace; the eternal city's classical silhouette, and mingling them in unique alchemic synergy.

He has exhibited in Italy and abroad (Cambridge, Kingstone, La Jolla, London, Malindi, New York, Philadelphia, Sana'a, Shanghai, Tunisi), in private galleries, public venues and museums (Gubbio: Palazzo dei Consoli; London: Italian Institute of Culture: Fondazione Morra, Istituto Suor Orsola Benincasa, Palazzo Crispi; Rome: Chiostro del Bramante, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Museo Carlo Bilotti, Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Palazzo Valentini).

Among his permanent installations: Disegni a frottage, 1975, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Exit, 2000, Naples' tube; Cielo stellato su Gibellina, 2003, Museo delle Trame Mediterranee, Baglio di Stefano, Gibellina; Le Opere ed i giorni, 2004, Certosa di S. Lorenzo Padula, Certosa di Padula; 16 colonne colorate, 2004, Fondazione Orestiadi, Tunisi; Pavimentazione a sanpietrini, 2005, Residence Barberini, Rome; 9CENTO - Un Museo in progress, 2010, Museo del 9CENTO, Castel Sant'Elmo, Naples; Poker di stelle, 2014, L'albero della cuccagna, 2015, Museo MAAK, Casacalenda (CB).