Matteo Basilè - Starting from ThisHumanity

curated by Antonio Zimarino

16 July – 3 September 2017
Scuderie di Palazzo Acquaviva, Atri
Open all days 10am – 12.30pm, 5pm – 7.30pm, 9pm – 11pm

The portraits of the series ThisHumanity, which was started by the artist in 2010-2011, put us in front of a disruptive “violence” that the person represented has or has just undergone. Yet what marks the observer deeply is not the details of the violence itself, which are never too obvious, but rather that the observer is mentally brought to imagine the causes and effects of that violence.

These portraits refer exactly to the “not said” and “not seen”. Inhumanity and its evidence are in the process that has caused the effects we see, and the portrait leads us to internalize the inner condition of the person represented, irrespective of the fact that it is the (objective) reality or an emblematic pictorial representation. Despite our overexposed media exposure to even worse and cynical violent images, these shake deeply and dig into us, just because we cannot avoid “interiorizing” them.

We are called to participate in a pain that has a clearly cathartic and revealing function. We usually defend ourselves from the tough truths of drama, fleeing, turning our eyes, going away fast, but if we decide to really participate in the pain by observing it, we may perceive all the injustice to which it is bound. Looking into the face of the drama digs the sense of “just” and unjust inside us, while we question about “why”, “still?”, or “never again”.

In the large compositions, however, we observe the “concatenations” that lead to the drama, thus centering on the underlying issue: we men are so strongly bound in the Good as in the Evil that the cause of discomfort or of salvation is exactly in the ways in which our relationships concatenate. The atmosphere is dull, baroque, agitated. The disturbance of lines and lights crosses the tableaux vivants and portraits. In large compositions, tragedy is collective, invisible and hidden, in a telluric and obscure context, cut out, outlined by dramatic light. In photographic portraits (which are actually also thought and constructed as “paintings”), the same lights, the composition and looks offer an inexhaustible range of forms of piety, pride, challenges, and interiority that are a part of a struck Humanity but never completely resigned and destroyed.

But more develops from this assumption. In other research projects, between 2012 and 2014, portrait completes and connects its inner dimension with the environment and space, opening up to the counterpoint of pieces of “world” and powerfully symbolic “still natures”, thus narrating the relationship of a “person” with the world (Landing), or, through graphic interventions, symbolic structures, lights, visual and chromatic fittings between different elements, inner personality is reconnected with the space “beyond” and with the narrative of the inner development of the “person” (Unseen).

This is why Starting from ThisHumanity, this self-consciousness, through pain, is not the word “end” but it is the beginning, the “zero point” from which to restart in oneself to say “never again”, to say that behind all this, the “Person”, i.e. the Man aware of himself and of his story, part of the search for “Other”, which has nevertheless become more true, stronger and more conscious than ever about what is just, unjust, noble, or ignoble. This is true in portraits, for those looking at them.


Matteo Basilé (1974) was born and lives in Rome. His career begins in the early ’90s as one of Europe’s first artists merging art and technology. Basilé owns the extraordinary capacity to conciliate opposing ideas such beauty and grotesque, natural and artificial. Exploring the nature of humankind, the artist develops his story in chapters: The Saints are Coming (2007), Thisoriented (2009), Thishumanity (2010), Landing (2012), UNSEEN (2014), PIETRA SANTA (2016): a series of independent transitions where Basilé negotiates his perception of existence. His research consists of an interface between East and West, an interjected dialectic operating as a collision between tradition and modernity, sacred and profane.
Basilé’s glossary is not just based on multicultural and timeless signs and values, instead it visually includes the global idiom where dream is no longer the main character of the photograph, as it incarnates a fully recognizable and unlimited narrative. His anti-eroes are a meticulous portraits that bring us back to classical history, but at the same time they transmit the spirit of the current time. Formally, Basilé deletes the antagonism between reality and imaginary, triggering a complex system of emotional sliding doors. Unlike “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” by Goya, here dream and reason converge in an epiphany where unique and multiple convey into the perfect balance between intellect and sensorial perception. Basilé’s poetics is an iconographic universe, the result of a combination between technological mannerism and pictorial surrealism. The oneiric journey of the artist finally guide us towards several levels of comprehension, both sensorial and intellectual, where we suddenly become aware of those aspect of reality that usually hide within ourselves. Therefore, the thorough investigation of Oneself, of the Other and the Elsewhere finally correspond his personal life experience away from his origins, facing both the sense of existence and the context of those confused dynamics around the process of globalization.