Gino De Dominicis (1947-1998)
Gino De Dominicis (1947-1998)


Gino De Dominicis (1947-1998)
signed ‘De Dominicis’ (on the reverse)
tempera on board
35 x 46 1/8in. (88.8 x 117cm.)
Executed in 1986
Galleria Mazzoli, Modena.
Tornabuoni Arte, Florence.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2008.
I. Tommasoni, Gino de Dominicis. Catalogo ragionato, Milano 2011, no. 206 (illustrated in colour, p. 58 and illustrated, p. 295).
Grenoble, Centre National d'Art Contemporain de Grenoble, Gino de Dominicis, 1990.
Florence, Galleria Tornabuoni, Maestri Moderni e Contemporanei, 2008 (illustrated in colour, p. 112).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Alessandro Diotallevi
Alessandro Diotallevi

Lot Essay

‘He was himself an endless work of art, primary and heavy with a secret, as he made a constant mystery of himself’. Anselm Kiefer in ‘Richiamo’ in G. Guercino ed., De Dominicis, Raccolta di scritti sul’opera e l’artista Rome, 2001, p. 61

The dematerialisation of the art object formed a central theme in much of the conceptual art of the late 1960s. For Gino De Dominicis, who began his career at this time, it was the concept of dematerialisation per se that most concerned him.
For De Dominicis, dematerialisation and its logical conclusion, invisibility were integral parts of his artistic aesthetic as, he believed, they held the key to a hidden world of timeless beauty and immortality. Rejecting conventional linear interpretations of time De Dominicis maintained that true reality existed as an “eternal present”. ‘To really exist,’ De Dominicis once said, ‘we should be able to stop time…Most human activities which appear unjustified today would become logical only after having reached immortality, because only then could we allow ourselves such fantastic and irrational quests for joy as are art and science.’ (Gino De Dominicis quoted in Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, ‘Gino De Dominicis’ Flash Art International December, 1986, p. 127).

Towards this end, the ideal of overcoming entropy and attaining a state of immortality became the central aim of de Gino De Dominicis’ artistic activity and research. In the second half of his career dominated by the paintings he made in the 1980s and ‘90s De Dominicis repeatedly created a sequence of often bizarre, otherworldly images that, though simplistic, are both startlingly strange and hauntingly memorable and function as if their creator had indeed attained such a higher state of being. These mysterious, normally untitled and often undated paintings reflect the artist’s desire to create immortal, perpetually resonant images; paintings that referred to, spoke from and existed in an eternal moment of present - in an unchanging, unending moment of existence that lay beyond or outside of time.

Developing from his early experiments with invisibility, these works incorporate the use of silhouetted forms that appear as if they were footprints or shadows of the gods; spectral traces of entities that have passed through our spatial and temporal sphere of understanding leaving only these vague clues to their existence and identity. In this way they are evocative of the higher, timeless and/or immortal state of being that De Dominicis had aspired to all his life and are suggestive of the condition which, ever since his self-mocking films of the late 1960s featuring his attempts to fly or to square the circular ripples around a stone’s splash in the water, his art had embraced and paradoxically posited as being both possible and unattainable. Asserting themselves as sacred artefacts, De Dominicis’ paintings of the ‘80s and ‘90s, with their oft-repeated imagery, flat vibrant colour and simplistic form, each present an almost transcendent momentary state that, for all who experience it or become caught up within their world, seems to propose a timeless condition of permanent, unending mystery.

Central to De Dominicis’ own artistic odyssey was the art of one of mankind’s earliest civilizations, the Sumerians, and in particular the story of Gilgamesh - the ancient Sumerian fable of its hero, the King of Uruk and his own epic search for immortality. This story tells of Gilgamesh going beyond the physical limits of man to find immortality and then lose it again. It also tells of knowledge and wisdom being brought to the ancient Sumerians by extraterrestrial beings. All the iconography in this painting from 1986 is drawn from De Dominicis’ own personal understanding of and identification with Gilgamesh. It is De Dominicis’ imagined profile of
Gilgamesh for instance, that appears looking into the painting, like the shadow of a divine presence,
from its right-hand side. Towards the centre are the Sumerian star - a symbol of the divine – shining as if in the night sky, and beside it, in black, is De Dominicis’ own personal symbol for immortality.

First used in a poster he made in 1971, it comprises of the form of a Christian cross - a symbol of death - that is here negated by being crossed out with an ‘X’ and also a swastika. A timeless and cyclical symbol, the swastika is an ancient symbol of prosperity and/or good fortune. The swastika is also believed to have originated in ancient Sumeria. To the left of the painting and inserting itself into the central symbol of immortality is a large vibrant red cuneiform symbol. This is arguably man’s first written symbol for the concept of God. Rendered throughout in bold flat colours and extending nearly two metres in length, this large painting functions in this way as both an imposing and near-abstract visual presence and as a symbolic one that provides a kind of celestial road map of
the soul.

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