No matter where or how far you go, childhood is never far behind. Such is the case for Georgio Fidone who, when he moved to Paris from the island of Sicily, first in the 1970s as a tourist, then later as an immigrant, carried with him a rich layering of recollections that continue to filter into the works he produces in Clichy, where he has his atelier. This ragged suburb with its rushing highway, blocked building towers and concrete blocks is a stark contrast to the central Paris Fidone hangs out in most of the time, but even more it is far from his green islander childhood. Images from Italian churches, chapels, village traditions and religious ceremonies, the colors of the sea still provide a background for recent sculptures. Moreover, the time he spent going to Greek temples where he could actually touch the writing on the walls, the palpability of words, marked him and led him to make a vast number of paintings in the 1980s.
For Fidone, the large-scale paintings (see photos) he first worked on in Paris, his “city of painters”, are “erased writings; unwritten writing where, at the start, something is marked” then, through a process of overlapping color, is buried in palimpsests of phrasings. Fidone explains “I began writing without ever writing.” At times political, angry, a space for venting, the colors and shapes of the lines take over the underlying message (and emotion), absorbing it into a new dynamic space .Reminiscent of Cy Twombly, Miro, Pollock, Basquiat (who he proudly recalls having had the pleasure of meeting), Jean Clareboudt or Ouatta (a friend of years ago), these works also recall Jasper Johns’ series of 5s, for here, too, are numbers encased or coded into the lost messages. Fidone does not believe in influences, however, and scoffs at the question, stating “when you sit down to write a poem, do you remember the poems you have read? When I start painting or sculpting, influence is not part of the process.” And yet, as he talks of his works, he constantly recounts anecdotes of his youth, the Italy where he began painting and sculpted tuiles romaines to make money. In Fidone’s case, place is the greatest mentor.
In fact, he is currently preparing a large exhibition of 200+ clay sculptures which will be shown in a condemned chapel surrounded by music. Originating in the year 2000, some of the sculptures are made to sit on stakes in water, as if walking over the surface. For Fidone, this work is “both baroque and contemporary” linking the images of virgins being paraded through the Italian streets of his youth and the condemned architecture of a dying chapel to Fidone’s newly-made figures.
At the same time as he’s working in three-dimensional space, he continues his dialogue with writing by contributing original acrylic paintings to many artist books. To date, Aeneis Editions, France, has completed 3 such collector volumes, from the book in an edition of 8 handwritten volumes by Alan Chatam de Bolivar in 1996 (see photos), to 2 volumes of printed text with his close friend Jacques de Longeville (one with additional images by Esther Hess, entitled “le sillage prolonge l’empreinte”). Currently, Fidone is preparing paintings for “Ondulations”, an edition of 50 which will appear in late spring 2009 with 3 paintings in each by Fidone (as well as a fourth image on the cover) alongside 3 poems by 3 poets in 3 languages (French, English, and Argentinian Spanish).
These works embody Fidone’s international life, and are a continuation of his encounters in Paris cafés—one of the main reasons he says he loves living and working in this city. “In Italy”, he felt, “artists get too caught up in” where they are going and how to get there. Here he is able to work well without “all of that messiness”. He can go to museums and exhibits all he wants, of course, and does, but most importantly he spends time in cafés.
Jennifer K Dick is an author (of Fluorescence, Retina, & Enclosures) and teacher (currently at EHESS and Ecole Polytechnique). She co-organizes the bilingual IVY reading series with Michelle Noteboom in Paris which began in a gallery thanks to curator Susie Hollands. Jennifer is now completing her PhD at Paris III on visual uses of the page in poetry: text and image in works by Anne marie Albiach, Myung Mi Kim and Susan Howe.
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com