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Filippo Sciascia on Breaking Away from the Conventions of Conceptual Art


Filippo Sciascia on Breaking Away from the Conventions of Conceptual Art
Filippo Sciascia, Lumina, Oil on Wood, 2017.

Filippo Sciascia, a Sicilian-born artist based in Bali, is an explorer. Prior to making the tropical island his home in 1998, the artist lived in Italy and America, and studied art at the Institute of Art, Nordio, Trieste and Fine Arts Academy in Florence. Sciascia has exhibited at several venues across Southeast Asia, Europe, and America. His most recent solo presentation ‘GODSPEED’ at Yeo Workshop Singapore in 2019, which investigated the concept of light in multiple contexts, showcased an array of works reflective of his practice and curiosity – from minimalist, abstract, figurative to intricate photorealistic paintings.

Filippo Sciascia, Lux Lumina, Oil on Gesso on Canvas, 2010.

A highly experimental artist, Sciascia’s works cross the boundaries between art and science, and move towards the ethereal spheres of universality. Through his varied treatment and thorough exploration of different materials, Sciascia imbues his work with a profound awareness of both past and present. His artistic practice represents a unique examination of wider societal relations between art, nature, and evolution.

This week, The Artling had the opportunity to learn more about Filippo Sciascia and his dynamic, multi-faceted artistic approach. Read on to discover more.

Primitive Mornings, Oil on Canvas, 2019.

Can you tell us a bit about your art and your background?

My work has been engaging with the concepts of science and anthropology, with references to the evolution of society and the role light plays in the process, since 2009. Light has been with us since the beginning. In my art, I studied how this natural phenomena impacts the evolution of mankind and technology, how it has evolved itself. For example, how the discovery of electricity and artificial sources of light altered the way we live. 

Regarding my background, I was born in Sicily, Italy. However, growing up I moved frequently between Sicily, Florence, and New York. I settled down in Bali in 1998, where I still live and work. 


Araldica, Balinese Stone Fragment and Aluminum, 2019.

Since settling in Bali in 1998, how has the tropical Indonesian island influenced your artistic practice?

I am not influenced by where I live; I believe I am not restricted to the idea of being influenced by one territory or geographical location. I feel like my works and artistic practice is universal, hearkening back to the ideas of biology, evolution, and the entire human race articulated in my works. To travelers, going abroad might seem like moving between different environments, but having lived here long enough I find similarities between Bali and my native Italy. It’s about adaptation.

However, subconsciously it is inevitable to be influenced by your surroundings. Living in Bali has opened up a more spiritual aspect of my work, which is linked to my memories of growing up in Sicily, also an island like Bali, where I was always surrounded by churches and temples. The scientific theme and approach in my works might seem detached and cold, but as it is actually the study of nature and life itself, it is very spiritual for me.


Machine Learning Size, Volcanic Black sand, Fossilized Resin, LED Lights and Wood, 2020. (detail)

Tell us more about your ongoing series 'Primitive Mornings'

Primitive Mornings is about reconnecting the primitive to the contemporary, the old and the new. Mornings are a daily occurrence that mankind experiences even during primitive times, a timeless link between the ancient past and the present. 

I used fossilized resin as the main medium in this series of works, as it tells stories of the past in the present. I melt the resin into the paint I am using, and apply it on to my works. I am creating a painting in 2020 with a material over 15 million years old, is in itself a fascinating dialogue.

The laws of chemistry say that nothing is destroyed, only renewed and continued.


You’ve taken an interest in exploring evolutionary, biological and physiological processes, specifically how technological developments have and continue to influence nature. Would you say that your work carries an underlying environmental message?

Yes, I believe that to help resolve issues about the environment at its roots we first have to understand the biology and chemistry of what makes up our environment. We must first understand what is important to want to save it. Rather than pushing overt messages about going green and saving the planet (which we should do, of course), my works offer a moderate presentation and discussion of the theory of chaos, order and disorder that has to be maintained.


Many of your paintings and sculptures are deeply conceptual and embedded in theory. Are there any artists or writers who have specifically inspired you?

I study everything and across various disciplines and fields such as archaeology, science, history, and art. I do not feel specifically inspired by a few artists or writers as they are all linked together. I can mention the ancient Sumerians and Duchamp or Beuys, while referring and relating to physicists like Feynman or Einstein. All these figures contribute and add to my understanding of how things work, and one inevitably leads to another equally important figure contributing some area of knowledge. 


You engage with various types of mediums in your work, from unconventional, traditional, to industrial materials. Often times you use them in conjunction with each other. Where do you source these materials and what do they signify in your sculptural pieces?

Materials are a way for me to physically manifest the concepts I investigate, as I feel that the concept should not replace the artwork but rather manifest in it. For example, I used melatonin powder when painting a light source, as melatonin is what our brain produces according to the time of the day to regulate our circadian rhythm and biological processes. Traditional materials I use include fossilized resin which I talked about earlier, and aluminium. While aluminium is widely associated with modern technology and industrialization, it is actually derived from an ancient material called bauxite or red clay which is used to make bricks and bronze in the past. These materials show how chemistry and modern science can transform ancient materials to what we use today. Hence, I am using real materials that adds to the energy of my work, breaking away from the conventions of conceptual art, painting, and sculpture. 


Filippo Sciascia, Trisnacros, Oil on Canvas, 2019.

Is there a work or series that you find yourself more attached to? What is it and why?

No, all my works and series are an evolution that began in 2000, with my first project working with video-paintings. Since then, all of them have been connected and are still relevant to one another. They build up and can be seen as a continuum. 


What is next for you as an artist? Are you working on any special or new projects at the moment?

My work continues as I make, learn and discover. The key is experimenting, and what I have been working on will lead me on to my next new project. Previously I used aluminium as a material to frame my images, and I am now trying out directly painting on it. 

Primitive Mornings is my ongoing series, and I feel that it is an important series during this period of time to remind us that art and science is beautiful and honest. My works do not serve a decorative purpose, but they are a bridge that connects me and the viewers, carrying a message, a concept, and emotions.

Another upcoming project is the showing of my older sculptural works curated by Jennifer Houdrouge at ‘Selebe Yoon’, a new exhibition venue by The Chimney NYC, as part of the Dakar Biennale this year.


Points of Intersection | Webinar

20 June, 2020 | 9pm (SGT)

About: In collaboration with Singapore Arts Club, Italian Cultural Institute Jakarta will be holding a webinar 'Points of Intersection' focusing on the works of Filippo Sciascia. Three speakers: Maria Battaglia (Director of Italian Cultural Institute Jakarta (IIC), Jennifer Houdrouge (Curator and Co-founder of The Chimney, New York), and David Yeo (Biomedical Scientist, A*STAR Singapore) will be elaborating on Sciascia's works, and providing an in-depth insight into the artist's expansive oeuvre.  

To register for this event, click here.


Click here to take a look at more works by Filippo Sciascia

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.


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