A Critical Essay on my work by Roberto Mastroianni


In the occation of the retrospective exhibition I'm having in Turin.

Here it is: in English

Versione originale in italiano:

Enjoy :)




Pietro Reviglio: New York Interiors 


NEW YORK INTERIORS: pictorial, photographic and cinematic perspectives of Pietro Reviglio



Living in Lift - Castel dell'Ovo, Naples

The exhibition at the museum of Castel dell'Ovo in Naples curated by Walter Vallini and Roberto Mastroianni featuring my work among the work of several other Italian and international artists opened on February 23.





Living in Lift, Palazzo Ducale, Genova

 Palazzo Ducale, Genova

Pietro Reviglio. Parallel Lives (2012) - Emptiness (2012)

Video of exhibition: Living in Lift. Curated by Walter Vallini and Roberto Mastroianni. 


 Link to photographic gallery: La Repubblica (6.11.2012): "Vivere nell'ascensore"


Interview on career shift

Here's the link to a recent interview by that just came out.

Pietro Reviglio: from Astrophysics Researcher to Visual Artist

It's never too late for a life change!




The Cosmic Sucker : a short story 



A short-story by Pietro Reviglio

The universe... the desert... the fight against the machine... art and science intertwine in this autobiographical short-story  on how a crazy night in the desert can change your life for good. 




          Sometimes change in life happens slowly over time and you find  yourself  drifting  almost unconsciously in directions you would have never imagined before. Some other times instead, you can pinpoint the place, the day and even the hours when your new life began.
          For me it was Kitt Peak, Arizona, a night of May 2005.
          I had never been in the desert on my own before. It felt like real adventure...  just me, the telescope and the universe.  No friends, no colleagues, not even a pet  to keep me company during the long sleepless nights I had ahead of me.  
           I had left New York on a dull, cloudy morning to find myself hours later  in the hot sunny weather of Arizona. Dry air, no rain, no haze: the perfect weather to peep into the secrets of the universe... the kind of weather astronomers would kill for... literally.
           The man  who picked me up at the airport to drive me into the mountains was an affable man from the West with white mustaches  and  a rifle in the back of his pickup: the kind of man that has lived in the desert most of his life... the kind of man that you hope has remained sane after all those years and won't use that rifle against you at any point during the car ride. Or after.
           On our way up,  the valley looked bare and thirsty. Only cacti and rocks under a scorching sun. Not a breath of air. Not a living soul in sight: no coyotes, no roadrunners, no mirages... just an occasional driver on the road to the mountain top. 
            As we proceeded through the desert [...]



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Ascending White - new video



Part of the project In Albis curated by Vittoria Biasi.

Two opposite forces: white as color of suffering, loneliness, alienation and white as a symbol of the experience of transcending the human condition, a symbol of the absence of pain... a white that ascends above itself. This video contrast these two forces through autobiographic imagery. Music by Jack White.

Click image to view.






by Pietro Reviglio

The Psychological Portrait in the Digital Era 

Web release. Click on image to watch it.


Booksigning at MIA - Milan Image Art Fair

Pietro Reviglio


booksigning at

MIA Milan Image Art Fair
the art fair devoted to photography and video
s.t. foto libreria galleria 

Friday  - May 4, 2012 at 6 p.m.
MIA Fair – Via  Tortona, 27 Milan (Italy)

"A riveting new book, Pietro Reviglio’s Cinematography of Urban Madness questions the nature of real and imagined cinematic narratives in a visually stunning manner. The harsh lighting of an artist studio sets the tone for this short enigmatic work wherein autobiography meets fiction with violent overtones. Reviglio’s book is a quick read but densely populated with rich info, which makes a revisit compelling. Reviglio’s new book highlights the contemporary condition: fragmented and suspended in a world always already an image." (Jason StopaNY Arts)

Curated by noted art editor Paola Gribaudo for the DisegnoDiverso series with afterword by Amalia Piccinini (FlashArt), Pietro Reviglio's Cinematography of Urban Madness has received international acclaim together with the photographic and video installation based on the book.  

Pietro Reviglio received a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Columbia University (New York) and  has exhibited internationally. Recent shows include Palazzo Farnese (French Embassy, Rome), Museo Laboratorio d’Arte Contemporanea (Rome),  The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America (Columbia University, New York), the 54th Venice Biennial, the Ishida Taisheisha Hall (Kyoto), the Museum of Oriental Art (Turin), Galleria Weber&Weber (Turin), Franz Paludetto (Turin)


Palazzo Farnese (French Embassy in Rome)

Exhibition of the winning artwork for the European project Research in Art, on the interplay between art and science, organized by the european platform Atomium Culture (Bruxelles)

The official presentation and exhibition of the winning artwork  took place at Palazzo Farnese on January 21, at the presence of the French Ambassador in Rome and the Italian Minister of Education, University and Research, Francesco Profumo.

Here a few pictures from the grande soiree. The exhibition will be moved to the University La Sapienza in February and open to the public.

Among the winning artists, the following were present: Alex Barchiesi, Claudio Beorchia,  Alessio Chierico, Valentina Daga, Valentina Garbagnati, Ngucaj Arta, Pietro Reviglio.


The hall of Palazzo Farnese where the artworks were exhibited. 


Pietro and his piece :-) Courtesy of Alessio Chierico, one of the other winners.


The Gala Dinner

The day of the installation. Artists at work.


New York, a picture

 New York, April 8th, 2011


Urban Madness at the Venice Biennial

I've been invited to exhibit at the Regional (Piedmont) Pavilion of the Venice Biennial, curated by Vittorio Sgarbi and Sergio Anelli.

I chose a diptych from Cinematography of Urban Madness which I entitled "Death Scene". The exhibition was held in the beautiful halls of the Castiglia di Saluzzo. The exhibition will be extended through December 26 ;)




Cinematography of Urban Madness - New York

After its Italian debut in Turin, the exhibition Cinematography of Urban Madness traveled to New York, where it was shown at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies of Columbia University. Prof. David Freedberg and Allison Jeffrey curated the exhibition. The initial one-month long exhibition turned into a six (!) month exhibition after being extended over summer. 




The exhibition took place in the two main halls of the Academy, and in the movie theatre were we projected the video Cinematography of Urban Madness.




Cinematography of Urban Madness - Torino

The exhibition Cinematography of Urban Madness debuted in Turin in January 2010 at the Weber&Weber Arte Contemporanea gallery, in the historic center of the city. 



The installation comprised 14 photographs and the homonymous video. Here are some pictures of the exhibition.   In the occasion of the opening we also presented the book Cinematography of Urban Madness, curated by Paola Gribaudo






Museum of Oriental Art - Gemine Muse

In an attempt to catch up, here are some pictures of my installation at the Museum of Oriental Art in Turin for the  Gemine Muse 2010 exhibition, sponsored among the others by the Italian Government.  The exhibition curator was Maria Teresa Roberto. The other artists selected were the Aurorameccanica group and Cornelia Badelita.






The four large (180x60 cm) photographs were installed in the Zen Garden and are the bulk of the series entitled "The Weight of Time" 











The photographs were lamba prints mounted on leger. The other artists were exhibiting painting and interactive video art in other wings of the museum.

Two more pictures of mine were on display in the Indian gallery describing the backstage of this project.

Thousands of visitors! And lots of press, including main newspapers La Stampa and Repubblica ;)










Back to writing


OK, time to start updating this blog... after, ehm, a couple of years... :)

Main reason I didn't update this journal is not me being lazy (OK, maybe that too)but   the little white mop below, who's taking up most of my time... 



La bolla and the permanent collection



I couldn't have chosen a worse day to move part of the Physika exhibit from the wing of the Castello di Rivara where it was put on display in September to its new home, the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, hosted in the Medieval castle in the back of the complex.

Under a pelting rain I park my car, my cousin who "volunteered" to help with the installation parks behind me. Franz awaits us in the kitchen, as usual. In five minutes I find nails, hammer, meter, and a strange object in my hands.

``Do you know what this is?'' asks Franz


``You'll figure it out''

I  look at the object, it's a rod with some liquid in the middle and an air bubble in the middle of the liquid... I play a little with the object, hoping that my physics background will come in handy at a certain point...

Still tucked in her raincoat and rain hat (London style  and perfect for the dreary weather of the day) my cousin nods knowingly. 

``La bolla!'' she says

Still no clue... I don't even know how call that in  English... Later I'll figure it out the importance of such object.

Apparently Franz is granting me the honor to install the pictures without his strict supervision ...WOW. I'm honored.  He mumbles something about my special spatial sense and was very pleased how I installed the September show. Yet I'm still a little suspicious the pelting rain and the pleasant warmth of the kitchen stove is playing a role in his decision, after all. But from what I hear,  he's the pain-in-the-neck kind of curator, mounting and dismantling things a million times before being pleased, so probably he wouldn't have let me mess around with the permanent installation just because of a little rain, if he hadn't some true belief in the outcome.

In any case, we take nails, hammer, umbrellas, bolla and off we go. Moving stuff from one building to another is not a joke... especially if what you're moving  are pictures which can be ruined by just a little droplet falling on their surface. We pile, wrap, pack a first set of pics  and move them to the old castle under umbrellas and pieces of plastic. It's freezing and dark outside. We try not to slip on the stony steps illuminated by my car...

The old castle, where the photographs will go has a sinister feeling on such a gloomy, misty night. I turn on the lights and a wonderful work by Nitsch appears in the room next door. It's all spattered in blood and reminds me of the horror that must have gone on when this castle was a medieval prison where people were tortured and killed. Upstairs, Cattelan hanged  linens out of a window to metaphorically escape from this place...  I think my taste for the macabre and the mysterious is being satisfied here... it'll be a good place for my work to live in. 

We leave the first pack of pictures and go get the other. Once we have all of them there, I start thinking about which ones to install, while my feet are reaching the freezing point.  I sense that my cousin would appreciate if I hurried up... but I take my time... let's try this, let's try that... and what about this other one there? 

Finally I reached the point where I'm satisfied. We take the hammer and put the first nail up. Then the picture on the wall. When we let it go, it hangs like a poster in a junkie's room, all slanted. Sbilenca, says my cousin. Now we see why la bolla was given to us. A rapid inspection confirms our suspicion... the old walls are all slanted and bumpy... we need the physics of la bolla to find the perfect equilibrium point. We grab la bolla and we set out to work. We hammer and hammer...  a centimeter up, a centimeter down until the installation is finally in place... Eureka. 

More info about the museum :





Castle of Rivara Exhibit


In the awesome scenery of the Villa Neobarocca, its old stables and wine cellar, four exhibitions opened on the same night: an international group show, Davide Oddenino's and Plinio Martelli's solo shows and mine :)

 In the background the Medieval Castle where the permanent collection is kept... which was opened for the night.

It was September (yes I've been bad at keeping this blog) and a large population of artists, collectors, gallerists, critics and art enthusiasts were there to enjoy the park, the art and the banquet.

(somehow, you find them mostly around banquet in all of those occations).

I spent the night running from one wing to the other of the complex... meeting a critic here, one there, a cousin in the villa, an aunt in the stable, a friend in the park and so and so forth... by the end of the night I was exhausted.  Cars kept coming in from the gate, in the night, up the road, skidding over the grit and splashing the puddles water all around... it had just stopped raining in the afternoon.

While I'm there, I barely have the time to have a look at the other exhibits and talk to the fellow artists.. Mariusz Tarkawian, who I met earlier in the week, seems to have a good time in his black dress... we chit-chat, while Franz, the owner and the host, hops around in  improbable baggy pants  and crocs and an odd lady keeps reciting a monologue I have no time to listen to...  there's always someone else to meet, to talk to, to take to the two rooms where my work is.  Those who come to have a look stop, ponder, ask... not all of them dare commenting on a topic like physics... some admit their complete ignorance.. some pretend they know a lot and say amusing things. I have to be careful not to laugh in their face when they talk nonsense... As I do my best to explain, show, engage, chatting and drinking go on on the outside. As I talk to these people, I wonder what will come out of this. 

Pics of the exhibitions on this page if you want to poke your nose around:





Physika - Solo show 

Physika - 14 installed 100x75 cm photographs  - Solo show at the Center for Contemporary Art of the Castle of Rivara (Italy)


Pietro Reviglio  -  Physika (2009)

From the structure of the matter an artwork is made of, to the creation of its perceived image, the laws of physics govern and limit the creation of a work of art. The series Physika visually explores the branch of  physics that governs the visual arts by dissecting and analyzing its primary concepts: space, time, light and matter.

Applying the experimental scientific method to the practice of art and experimenting in the limited space of an artist’s studio with the physical processes of reflection, refraction and absorption of photons, physics becomes pictorial medium to create with by exploiting the responses of different materials to the interaction with light. The digital images created are thus the result of physical processes in the real world that abstract and recombine forms and objects, without  the help of computerized  graphic effects.



Dalla struttura della materia che costituisce un’opera d’arte, alla creazione dell’ immagine percepita, le leggi della fisica governano e limitano la creazione e la fruizione di un’opera d’arte. La serie Physika esplora visivamente la branca della fisica che governa le arti visive,  dissezionandone e analizzandone i suoi concetti di base: spazio, tempo, fotoni e materia.

Applicando il metodo scientifico sperimentale alla pratica artistica e sperimentando nello spazio limitato di uno studio d’artista con i processi fisici di riflessione, rifrazione e assorbimento di fotoni, la fisica diventa mezzo pittorico con cui creare sfruttando la diversa risposta di differenti materiali all’interazione con la luce. Le immagini digitali così create sono il risultato di processi fisici nel mondo reale che astraggono e ricombinano forme e oggetti senza l’ausilio di effetti grafici computerizzati. 



Meeting Louise Bourgeois

It's ten to three when I arrive in front of her house.
A guy walks nervously in front of it with something under his arm... a big print, it seems. I lean my two paintings against the stoop and examine the guy. Obviously we are there for the same reason. We break the ice and start chatting. First time? Yes, first time. Nervous? Yes, nervous. You know the urban legend about this? Yes, I do... Like two kids waiting for their first injection we try to support each other...

Rumor has it she used to throw people out of her house, screaming at them. All of a sudden I start regretting I'm carrying that second painting that it's there, hidden under the first one. The guy, Michael, wants to see it... and gasps: "Wow!"
That makes me even more uncomfortable.
But there's little I can do about it now. At three o' clock we will have to enter the little townhouse and meet a legend. And maybe be thrown out with prints and paintings and all.

It's almost three when two ladies join us, then a group of people.
They look very distinguished... they're no artists, I can tell from the way they are dressed and their manners. Maybe critics? Without hesitation they ring the bell and patiently wait until someone opens the door. They go in first. We, the artists, follow in silence... like prisoners to the guillotine.

The house is simple, very different from how I expected it. Not a sign of her work in the room where we are escorted by her assistant. We find her sitting in a corner, silent, austere. Her hands on a little table, looking around with the dignity of her 97 years.

One after the other we shake her hand and introduce ourselves. I'm one of the last.
"Pietro... from Italy" I tell her, gently.
She looks at me very seriously. Not a hint of a smile.
"Of course" she replies, caustic.
I'm taken aback. Maybe the urban legend is not just a legend after-all.
But then she wants to know which city.
"Ah, Torino" she shakes her head knowingly. I smile and promptly disappear. I sit on a couch, while she is submerged by a flow of superlatives from the very well dressed people with very nice manners. I catch words here and there... Superbe... Formidable... Magnifique... La sensation de Paris ... It's the French Mission from Paris, and people from the French Embassy. They are telling her about her retrospective at the Louvre. I don't speak French, but I understand enough to be nauseated by all that reverence. All of a sudden I wish I wasn't there. I make a mental note to curse my friend Amalia who got me into this trouble.

The discussion goes on in French for a while... more superlatives are thrown in it.. Superbe, Formidable, Magnifique...
A lady from the mission shuts us up every time she says a word. "Silence. She's talking". She treats her like a very fragile piece of antiquity. I don't think she appreciates it at all. Yet she listens to them. Not a smile. It's not until the end of the meeting that she opens fire over them: "If you didn't have any work to present, why did you come?"

A master of sarcasm in her work, she doesn't spare anyone.
"You framed your paintings... You must think they are very good, huh?" she asks one of the artists.
And looking at some drawings: "What do you want us to do with these? Pick one as a gift?"

I'm the second to present my work. I still don't know exactly who are the artists and who are the critics among us. I can only tell who are the diplomats. Yet I know that the critics are there. One must be the guy sitting at her right who leads the discussion. As I take my paintings I wonder if he is who I think he is...

I have been in academia long enough to know that if they respect you they shoot at you. If they dislike you they generally ignore you or sarcastically flatter you. So I wonder how they'll receive my work, especially that second painting I'm just displaying in front of them...

Five minutes into my presentation I'm under fire. A gentleman in a brown jacket sitting on the other side of the room starts asking a lot of questions... why this... why that... until he makes me trip, by asking me about a certain German expressionist... and I have to admit my ignorance. Never heard of him. I screen every word he says for sarcasm... but I don't seem to detect any.
Louise Bourgeois listens and nods... I'm discussing "ORANGE HOUSE", and how I want to portrait living paintings within my paintings, which break their own frames and bring their reality to interact with the viewer's reality.

"It's true... He broke the frame," she says passing her finger over the painting, somehow giving her blessing to it. She looks sweet for a moment.
Then she asks me about some details of the image.
Robert Storr, at her right, touches the canvas to see what it's made of. He is whom I thought he was, but I'll discover this only after I finish my presentation.

After talking for a few minutes about "ORANGE HOUSE" and its voyeuristic theme, I pick the second painting, and hold it in front of her. I know we are going to clash on this one.

"This is a work that belongs to a series of paintings on which I'm working right now... where I explore words of my childhood that have for me a strong evocative power... and I investigate the recollections they bring with them. This is 'Pene', the Italian word for penis".

And there I stand, with my gigantic green penis in front of an art legend.

I expect a laugh. But everyone remains silent. I guess they are taking it seriously. Not a giggle.

A little less nervous, like a naughty kid, I go on with my presentation... and say that I got inspired by one of Bourgeois works... Robert Storr catches the connection right away. ``Fillette?" he asks me.
``Yes, Fillette". Now I can only wait for her thunder.

Strangely I feel totally relaxed now, and I keep answering questions.. I explain that there are other words, not only sexual, that I want to paint, like "Scatalascio".

"Is that scatology in English?" Rober Storr asks very seriously.

I hope I didn't hear an "e".

"Escathology?" I reply... hoping he's asking about the Apocalypse and not what I fear he's asking...

"No, Scatology, like coprology?"


As if the penis wasn't enough to talk about now I have to engage also in a discussion about shit with a former curator of the MOMA?!


Le mot de Cambronne comes to mind again. I guess after my penis they are ready for anything.

"No" I say. "It's a word my aunt invented, that has no meaning in standard Italian. It's a big thump..." And to avoid trouble with assonances, I add:"...strong noise," but I'm not sure I cleaned the misunderstanding completely. In any case I go back to my penis and wait for Louise Bourgeois' reaction to all this, while the guy in a brown jacket asks me more questions about the connection between the theme of architecture and the theme of the body.

"Enough... Direct, direct!" she finally says, somewhat annoyed by all my talking with the critic in a brown jacket.

They explain to me she wants to talk to me face to face...

Le mot de Cambronne comes to mind once more.

She wants Robert Storr to find the picture of her sculpture on a book sitting on her table. She pushes the book towards me.

"What touched you about it?" she asks me.

She catches me off guts. But somehow I must have gained some respect with her if she is asking me what I felt about her own work. Yet I have the feeling she is trying to teach me something...

I look at Fillette.

"I saw it like a character of a story... almost an animated character and I took this character and made it into a character of my story."

She looks at me. Very serious again.

"But yours doesn't touch you as much."

The criticism finally is delivered. But it's direct, no sarcasm. I defend my work nonetheless, explaining how I intended it to touch the viewer... But we have opposite points of view... she sees the penis as a fragile feminine attribute, like a little inexperienced girl ( fillette ). My painting is less sarcastic and more humorous, almost an iconography to celebrate male sexuality. It's Fillette undressed, without the vagina it has as a robe. It certainly doesn't mix the feminine and the masculine like hers (if ever, it's a reaction to her sculpture).
Robert Storr notices the iconographic feeling of the series I'm working on and makes a comment about it.

I go back to my seat like a student after the examination, unsure if it was a good or bad performance. It seemed that she liked the first and felt challenged by the second... In any case I'm happy because I took a risk that few would have taken. Art is also about courage.

I wait until the end to chat a bit with the gentlemen in a brown jacket. I'm too shy to ask him who he is, he's probably another stellar name in the art world. I ask him if he liked the work.
He says yes. Afraid he may be just trying to get rid of me, I ask again. "Honestly?"
"Yes, but I wanted to hear more about Graffiti Art."

Graffiti art... of course. I regret he didn't ask about Keith Harings, that I love instead of that obscure fellow... we exchange a few more words. After that I talk briefly with a guy from the French mission...
"Did you like my work?"
Of course ... what else could he answer? I take the compliment with a smile, but I don't trust it too much. But maybe he was honest since as I leave, Bourgeois' assistant also tells me "Good work", without me asking, as a goodbye. She seemed genuine. Probably it didn't go bad after all.

When outside I take my two big paintings under my arm and walk down the street surfing in the wind and wondering what's happening inside, now that we have left. I'm sure they're having a jolly good time talking about us: about the lady with the framed paintings and the guy with the print, about the woman who showed up without any piece of art, because her work was just a concept (?!), and the one with a million photographs... and, for better or worse, between a smile and a giggle, about that Italian guy who dared to show up with a big, erect, irreverent Pene.


Pietro Reviglio -- PENE. Oil on canvas.(2008)



Louise Bourgeois -- FILLETTE. Latex over plaster. (1968)