Time and time again, people have proven that putting two seemingly unlikely things together can result in something even cooler than the original elements. Why do you think Reese’s is so darn good!?
Meet Fabio Viale, artist and sculptor, who took a bit of an unorthodox step in merging two unlikely forms of art together—sculpting and tattoos. OK, you may argue that these do belong together because tattoos go on bodies. Sure. But on a body made from a stone slab? Yeah, you better believe that it’s possible, and Viale pulls it off perfectly.
Fabio Viale is a sculptor, and by default a tattooist, from Turin, Italy. Besides the many unique things he has done thus far, Viale is also the man behind a very intriguing mix of marble, classicism, and tattoos.
In other words, he creates classical statues—like ones from ancient Greece and Rome—except he also applies tattoos to them, surprisingly in a very similar fashion as one would tattoo a human.
The reason why the tattoos look so realistic on what is essentially a rock is because very similar techniques are used here as well. You see, it’s not painted over, but rather color injected into the porosity of the material.
“I have used several techniques in collaboration with well-known restorers and chemical centers, but the process I use is simply based on the penetration of the pigment into the first millimeter of the surface,” explained Viale.
Some years ago, Viale met a Russian tattooist who had a bunch of odd symbols on his hands. Being curious, he asked him about it, which inevitably led him to the light bulb moment you see materialize in his art.
“Like all art, creativity is a mystery. I start from an image that I try to make clear in my mind,” elaborates Viale on the whole process. “Then I face it from a technical point of view, I try to understand all the problems, times, costs, etc. Then I drive 300 kilometers to choose the marble.”
Viale continued: “In terms of tattooing marble, my goal is to create a double identity sculpture: tattooing old masterpieces means donating a second life and, in a contemporary way, a new collective image. Today, tattoos could be considered a suit that everybody may wear, old statues too! Changing an ancient statue’s life builds a temporal bridge towards universal beauty.“
“I am interested in symbolic tattoos, I am not attracted to decorative forms. I see in the criminal tattoos a sort of aesthetic ignorance that draws all the viewer’s attention to its contents.”
Viale explained that images that come to us from the past do not belong to simple sculptures—rather they are icons, symbols that managed to resist the flow of time. It’s not aesthetics or content, but rather its survival throughout history.
“I’ve always been attracted to mysteries, such as the Mona Lisa (Leonardo) or the Pietà (Michelangelo), and their study has led me, during their reproduction, to understand the artist’s personality more analytically which these works generated,” said Viale.
If you’re thinking that sculpting ain’t easy, well, you’re right, as it requires quite a lot of precision, patience, and dedication to make even the simplest of statues. And tattoos don’t make it any easier as Viale pointed out just that—the most challenging part of creating a statue like he does is to recreate the image on the statue as if it was on real human skin.
Viale is currently hard at work on some fist and torso designs and is also collaborating with adult film actor Rocco Siffredi, of whom he created a marble sculpture under the guise of a faun.
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