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Pietro Ruffo

Anthropocene 39, 2022, ink, oil and collage on canvas-backed paper, 28 35/64 × 36 27/64 in.

©Foto Massimo Listri

 

Anthropocene 40, 2022, ink, oil and collage on canvas-backed paper, 28 35/64 × 36 27/64 in.

©Foto Massimo Listri

 

Pietro Ruffo (Rome 1978)

After graduating in architecture in Rome, he won the Premio Cairo in 2009 and the Premio New York in 2010. Thanks to a research grant from the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies, he attended Columbia University. His artistic research has focused on the conceptual dimension of art: drawing and carving become imaginative tools for the investigation and interpretation of reality, decomposed on several intertwined and overlapping levels. Natural landscapes, human forms, geographical maps and constellations, geometrical shapes and traces of writing are recurring elements in Ruffo’s imagery. His installations can be linked to the methods of environmental art. This results in stratified works, open to many visual and semantic interpretations, which explore the great themes of universal history, particularly the freedom and dignity of individuals. His work was exhibited in important museums and international institutions, such as the Vatican Apostolic Library in 2021, Museu de Arte Contemporânea of the University of São Paulo in 2021, ZAM in Hangzhou, China in 2020, MAXXI in Rome in 2008 and 2018, Bardo National Museum in Tunis in 2018, Indian Museum in Calcutta in 2018, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome in 2014 and 2018. He has received many public commissions, such as the project Urban for Borgata Giardino in Garbatella, made with 100 students in 2019-2020 in Rome, and the work Migrant for the Parco dei Daini in Rome’s Villa Borghese in 2021. Some of his works can be found in important public collections, such as the Vatican Museums, the Farnesina Collection of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, MAXXI, Fondazione Roma Tre, Teatro Palladium in Rome, MAR in Ravenna, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Bilotti in Rende.

Displayed in Plexiglas cases, in the veranda of the dining room opening onto the garden, the two works are part of Anthropocene, the Roman artist’s latest cycle. Coined in 2000 by Nobel prize Paul J. Crutzen, the term “Anthropocene” refers to the current geological epoch, which is heavily impacted by human activity. Sensitive to environmental issues and inspired by Yuval Noah Harari’s books, Ruffo reflects on the evolution of the human species, from sapient animal to self-destructive deity, and offers a multidimensional representation of the change that is taking place since Homo sapiens appeared on Earth. In a continuous figurative metamorphosis, he superimposes maps through his technique of three-dimensional collage on multiple levels: images of skulls, plants and landscapes stand out against a background of geographical maps, saturated with paleoclimatological data. Each work provides a diachronic reading of the evolution of a specific place, between nature and artifice, with the utmost scientific rigor. The creatures drawn by Ruffo in his metahistorical investigation are not imaginary: they are archaic life forms, now extinct, yet the composition seems fantastic. Revealing the rift between nature and the human world, Ruffo builds an utopian architecture reminiscent of Piranesi, with the spirit of an archaeologist. Like in Piranesi’s Imaginary Prisons, the disorganization of formal fragments becomes an absolute reality and the ecstatic explosion of tensions dissolves into a frozen dynamism. Through an intellectual montage of elements that undergo semantic distortion, Ruffo creates “visual notes” that raise questions without providing answers. (Renata Cristina Mazzantini)