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Francesco Ideale Vullo - The Softest Stones

Words:

Edd Norval
November 3, 2021

Sicilian artist Francesco Ideale Vullo’s work is all about defying expectations. It plays tricks with the viewer’s sense of understanding the world and the things in it. We know a stone is hard, so why does it look so soft? Within this cognitive dissonance, Vullo makes some of the most fun art around.

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When we think of certain things, there are expectations attached to that thought. If we imagine glass, it comes with connotations of fragility, clarity and freedom of shape. With a stone, our notions are much more fixed. They’re largely set to the default that nature has them. Some can be angular, broken away by human life, others soft, eroded by the gentle waves of the sea.


Whatever the shape is, it’s rare that notions of pliability come attached. In marble we may see a sculpture, but stones? They’re what we walk over at the beach. Vullo has taken it upon himself to bestow the humble stone with true kinetic power, like they’re something playful and able to bring joy to a creative imagination.

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It isn’t just stones that Vullo draws on, but they do form a notable percentage of his output. In general, the artist can pick up any object and make us think about it in entirely new ways. The material he opts for and its role in each particular piece looks so effortless, almost like it belongs there. In reality, it’s the result of meticulous research into what can make (or break) the centrepiece of each sculpture or installation. 


In one beautiful example, the Italian fixes a shattered electric circular saw blade with golden glue, contrasting magnificently to the utilitarian aesthetics of the component itself - injecting a sense of grandeur into something that would otherwise bleed into the background.

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The most powerful element of Vullo’s art is that the theme and concepts are entirely embodied in the piece. We don’t just see, but we feel, like our emotions are being held captive by the artist whenever we’re in the presence of his work. Illustrating this is Atto di fede (Tensione), where a little bit of black tape holds up a suspended concrete slab. We can see the tension that the tape is being held by - strained by the object’s mass and its gravitational pull - but we also feel the tension of the composition. Ready to snap at any time.


Using common objects allows the artist to talk in an accessible language, facilitating the ability of his art to make profound statements about everyday themes, ideas and topics. It’s smart art made about scenarios and sentiments applicable to us all.

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