An anomalous figure on the Italian and international scene and a pioneering experimenter in the fields of painting, photography and cinema, Paolo Gioli (b. 1942) creates timeless images, concentrating a vast iconography into a series of virtuoso operations with artistic and photographic techniques. His work shatters all disciplinary constraints and develops like a complex of interweaving reflections that involve numerous fields.
From the painting and nude studies of the early 1960s in Venice and the discovery of the artistic avant-garde, photography and experimental cinema after a stay in the United States all the way through over half a century of prolific and magmatic activity, Gioli has always operated as a kind of media archaeologist, combining the study of images and observation of the human body in its anatomical, aesthetic, ideological and erotic aspects. While his early films establish an essential analogy between celluloid and skin as a sensitive interface between the self and the world outside, his Polaroid transfers use the body and parts of it as a way of examining the history and theoretical foundations of photography. Other cycles of works – like the self-portraits, the “unknowns” and the “dissolute” and “luminescent” figures – blaze an existential and narrative trail that crosses the boundaries into cinema in the same way as some of his film, e.g. the “stenopeic” and “contact” series, are photographic operations in terms of conception and structure.
This study retraces Gioli’s activities from the beginning to the present, systematically investigating their complex ramifications in terms of media and interweaving historical and theoretical reflections with the artist’s analytical description of his working methods.