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Arcangelo Sassolino


Portrait of the artist by Marco Valmarana, courtesy Belmond

Majestic yet brutalist, heavy yet fragile, graceful yet provocative; the nature of a paradox essentially underlines the contradictory nature of a statement and the conflicting nature of an artwork, with elements that adhere to its understanding. In this respect, the coherent play of paradoxes and the pushing of traditional boundaries in the artistic practice of Arcangelo Sassolino (b. 1967) are at the helm of this understanding, whereby such works offer an intriguing dialogue between traditionality and modernity, the past and the present, the elegance, and the brutality. 

By nature, Sassolino’s practice is deeply rooted in mechanisation and the use of industrial-brutalist materials. When contextualising his practice, it evidently emerges as a direct result of industrialisation, where mechanisation and technological advancement became prevalent. Sassolino’s artistic practice bears an interesting position within this context, for Sassolino alters the form of his brutalist materials. By placing enforced mechanised pressure on these materials, namely metal, steel, and concrete, Sassolino aims to ‘push the material past its physical limitations, allowing it to take on a new voice, a new form’ and thus gives ‘a new chance to sculpture.’ As a result, he manipulates his materials and succeeds in transforming them into elegant creations, as seen in his series of concrete and glass hanging sculptures currently exhibited in an exhibition entitled SCONFINAMENTI at the University of Malta’s Valletta Campus. Sassolino uses mechanisation as a way of extending the life of matter beyond the creative act. 

Curated by Keith Sciberras and project managed by Chiara Galea, SCONFINAMENTI is the inaugural exhibition of the newly established University of Malta Gallery of Art located at the Valletta Campus. The exhibition is the result of collaborative work that Sciberras and Sassolino have been undertaking as curator and artist for the past years. This collaboration had at its onset the project ‘Diplomazija Astuta’ (Commissioner: Arts Council Malta; Curators: Keith Sciberras & Jeffrey Uslip; Artists: Arcangelo Sassolino, Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci, Brian Schembri) that was presented as the Malta Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia in 2022. Emerging directly from his work for ‘Diplomazija Astuta’, Sassolino is also presenting at SCONFINAMENTI a series of works on paper that dialogue with and capture the impact of his drops of molten steel that were at the heart of his impressive and monumental central installation for the Malta Pavilion (2022).

SCONFINAMENTI, 26 April – 26 July, The University of Malta Gallery of Art, Valletta Campus.

Untitled, 2023, by Sassolino, installed next to Ditta Michele Gerard (1837-1904), Dying Gaul, at the University's Valletta Campus Gibsoteka. Photo by Chiara Galea

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