Alessio Ancillai: words at work

What image is more evocative than the artwork as a generator of intertwined words, where forms and metaphors offer the syntax of a brilliant creative disorder? This is the case of Alessio Ancillai, on display with “Il turno di note” curated by Davide Silvioli, at the Roman space COSMO, until April 21st, 2024. This project investigates with acute intelligence and powerful imaginative exploration the theme of work, the dimensional aspect of the artwork and the word. The exhibition presents itself with the specific awareness of an experiential journey of an unprecedented and summary interpretation of Ancillai’s practices to address with unusual ingenuity the dimensional issues in the structures woven on frames, and thank to the critical quality of how the relationship with the word is treated. The most reformative outcomes of the project derive precisely from this latter line of research from which the most spontaneous and innovative works originate, to be interpreted by the public with flexibility of judgment. In fact, the word is the subtle protagonist of the entire exhibition, presented physically and vocally in order to stimulate an investigation into its communicative use according to a poetic with a subtle subversive burden.

Alessio Ancillai, “Il turno di notte”, exhibition view, COSMO, Roma, 2024. Ph. Sebastiano Luciano, courtesy the artist and COSMO

In this way, each exhibited piece originates from a successful activity by the artist that combines sculptures, videos, audio and installations, through a studied strategy revealing a focused exploration on the craftsmanship of materials and their dynamic balance. However, Ancillai – with an appreciable massive dose of courage and using disparate languages – avoids a geometrizing search, instead approaching the wonderful space of contaminations. Thus, the works present themselves as true three-dimensional bodies that break and surpass the surface, generating moments of peak in the bright points and ambiguous perspective games due to the incidence of light, also demonstrating how the result is more effective the more organic the work becomes. Yet, the works that attract the most are those characterized by an intense involvement of the word. Especially, referring to video installations and clay transcriptions on the wall: interventions that imply that art, becoming readable and audible, embodies the concept of work, thus becoming a useful means to understand, experience, and feel the world. For these same reasons, the exhibition is a successful union of ideas, works, and thoughts that address the subjects linked to the artist’s research, such as the linguistic existence and its mutual exchange on the threshold of seeing, reading, and listening.

Alessio Ancillai, “Il tempo necessario”, 2024. Frame, bronze, clay, marble, led, 215 x 180 x 115 cm. Ph. Sebastiano Luciano, courtesy the artist and COSMO

The essence of the exhibition is most effectively encountered on the lower floor of the exhibition spaces, where the theme of work becomes more vivid, although never approached with elements of social or political criticism, but rather through the discovery of small truths encapsulated in incisive poetic moments. If the steel anchoring cables – that suspend the rolls of sandpaper – allude to views of metalworking workshops, into the adjacent room there is scaffolding that supports the videos in a perfect balance between rigor and form. In both cases, Ancillai combines emotional impulse with the need to ensure specific relationships with the viewer, where the normal logic of work is overturned and the real break from the night shift paradoxically consists of getting up and acting. Thus, even though the most recurrent verb is to repeat, the artist does not fear to reconstruct and share that very personal space of uncertainty, in which doubt is likely to linger to initiate his identity trait, namely a tenacious and sought-after dialogue with the other. Finally, the most attractive works of the exhibition, such as “Vita tua vita mea” and “Pensavo a come…”, are both capable of triggering processes in favor of the viewer, who is not emotionally sterile at all but is called vibrantly to relate and reflect with the flow of the artist’s words.

Alessio Ancillai, “Night shift”, 2024. Acrylic, sandpaper, steel cable, grippers, site-specific dimensions. Ph. Sebastiano Luciano, courtesy the artist and COSMO

Nevertheless, Ancillai, on this occasion, wants to transcend from the classical convictions, indeed the flow of his creations does not present itself as a sum of overlapping narratives following the obsolete principle of candidly staged artwork; it is rather a massive meta-linguistic operation, a journey through attitudes and concepts that follows a pattern of associations until it borders on different expressive territories. At this point it is necessary to say that this exhibition was born as a blank page, whose content emerges through a specific vein of experimentation. That is why each work finds its purpose in the set of procedures aimed at their ideation, where the anti-geometric making and the self-taught study by the artist towards everything biological coexist. In fact, the material on which Ancillai works is not simply the words and their conceptual forms, but the story of their origin and their history. Hence, whenever he evokes them, he freely lets imagine from which specific hints they have been generated: encounters with people or small episodes of existence. In other words, private and public elements all blend together giving life to short stanzas capable of hybridizing intimate themes with emotional ones.

Alessio Ancillai, “Odio ripetere”, 2024. Fabric, projectors, speakers, scaffold, site-specific dimensions. Ph. Sebastiano Luciano, courtesy the artist and COSMO

The exhibition, therefore, is the result of complex relationships devised by an artist with a versatile culture: a choice that unexpectedly derives from the field of medicine, aimed at demonstrating how words, if harmoniously working together, surpass the communicative limit by highlighting a participatory bond of self-knowledge, of others, and of the entire world. Thus, although the coexistence of different topics naturally produces references and reciprocal reflections, these options take on a unitary meaning under the term work, which designates not only the daily human activity, but also that of an artist who manipulates simple words as his raw material, shaped according to innovative and suggestive morphological ideas.

Maria Vittoria Pinotti


Alessio Ancillai, Il turno di notte
curated by Davide Silvioli
05/04/2024 – 21/04/2024
Piazza di Sant’Apollonia 13, 00153 Roma


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