critical reviews

Chiesa di San Giovanni, 21020 Casciago - Varese, Italy
19th May - 22nd June, 2024


The lingering marks the rhythm of return,
it is home
the depth of everything,
there is nothing that is sought.
No mirror,
of all narratives
no narrative,
no form,
but two chimes of a sway,
not a before not an after,
the same one that oscillates within itself,
an eternal return
a time that becomes space.
Daniele Di Luca


The narrative of Daniele Di Luca's work begins from its end.
The artist creates his works in his studio-home in Palermo, and only when the production process is finished, he asserts: "It's time to show them." This is how Di Luca explains when he can send his works on their journey, and it is at this moment that a process of subtraction begins, involving the disassembly of the works and their journey to the space designated for their presentation. The dismantling of the works in the studio and their repositioning in the exhibition space is not mere installation, but takes on a ritualistic character in which the works enter into dialogue with the space, completing each other. In the process of setting up, elements that the artist retrieves from the location are included, intertwining with his personal history. Planks and old building elements belonging to his family meet new forms, new substances.

It is in a space that by its nature has hosted rituals and created community, a Romanesque church in Casciago in the province of Varese, that Daniele Di Luca's new exhibition project is born: "No form, no substance."

Here, the works create new itineraries that, although in complete harmony with the church-space, are not vertical or ascensional; rather, they are rhizomatic, and for this reason they expand on the surface and, like roots, move and organize themselves without hierarchies, horizontally, with a natural predisposition to connect to the whole.

In this sense, every visitor chooses their own visual path, and the deconsecrated church welcomes objects open to personal and unexpected contemplations, because contemplation is "the first liberal relationship with the universe that surrounds us" (F. Schiller, Aesthetic Education, Letter XXV, 1795, Aesthetica Edizioni, 2020).

In these spaces of freedom, it does not matter to trace a specific meaning; rather, it is about trying to enter into the logic of a work methodology in which each piece becomes a vehicle for new personal symbolic fields, reassured by the recurrence of the colors yellow and white, metaphor for light, precious yellow and abstract white.

No form, No substance.

This is how yellow appears among the white that becomes thought in 'White Noise' (2020), a polyptych composed of a sequence of 5 acrylics, 5 frames where the eye can surrender to the emerging form, embracing that silent and uncloseable perceptual play into a single concept. The elements are unrelated and slowly reveal themselves: a cross. Or a tesseract, four rays that plunge into four or more dimensions, a hypercube that elevates from reality and welcomes 'The Fly's Table' (2022). The monolithic sculpture was conceived during a walk on Mount Etna where the artist, seized by hunger, eats an apple and throws the peels on the ground, promptly devoured by a swarm of flies. A necessary rite of food that ancestrally connects all living beings who equally are born, breathe, and nourish themselves. Here the table set with powdered sugar makes food no longer a boundary between itself and the outside, but rather a means that projects us beyond the earthly plane, towards a fourth dimension, towards new spatio-temporal dimensions. And when time becomes space, the eternal emerges.

Thus the work 'Reverse Pendulum' (2023) plays with two dimensions creating a virtuous suspension, a balance where events and chronologies are suspended. The oscillations of being and its appearance make room for a blossoming. Or a double blossoming that manifests on the horizon line traced in 'Passive Line' (2022), a bending and reflecting bar that suggests depowering the will and simply placing oneself in front of what appears, to that slow unveiling of joy or a blossoming created by the hands of expert chisellers, skilled artisans whom the artist employs to bring back to a common dimension what escapes and simply is. Just as in the legend where Buddha sat before an assembly of ten thousand monks, but said nothing; smiling, he held a flower in his hand and showed it. Only one person understood what Buddha was doing and smiled back at him. Thus the transmigration of knowledge occurred, without words or concepts.

And the silent flower thus becomes a symbol of the appearance of all things that appear.

And when these no longer appear, that is, when they come out from appearing, what happens?

"Sky, tell us what has become of the sun that has set, tell us according to your abilities," what could the sky say? What does the sky know, as sky, about the sun that has left it? The sky might say, "I am authorized to know what fate has befallen that which no longer belongs to my opening up and constituting the space of visibility"?

The questions posed by Emanuele Severino, a philosopher dear to Di Luca, to journalist Davide di Alessandro (Il Foglio, 08.10.2018) can serve as an answer. And here the artist continues the reasoning and proposes his personal continuation, with 'The limitsof the world. The gentlesess of colour. Two monochromes for the void' (2024), where white is background and empty space, and emptiness is contained in the 12 cm that separate the glass from the monochrome painting. There, the artist explains, "everything is present, to determine the absence of the sign and manifest the sacred nothing (...) Starting from the nothing that does not exist, I wondered when nothing manifests itself, a sculpture that brings out nothing." The answer lies in the monochrome onto which a filter has been placed, a sandblasted glass, which asks people to look for something, but one cannot, nothing emerges, but nothingness becomes an aesthetic experience: 'cherishing emptiness' (2023). The sculpture composed of four thin brass bars encloses an absence. Here the blossoms are hinted at, quieter, allowing themselves to be involved in the care of an absence, of emptiness, because "in the absence of the object - explains the artist - the action remains naked in an incessant perpetuation, nothing can interfere with its being itself." The fear of emptiness in the Western world linked to form, materiality, ego, illusion dissolve here under the weight of "nothing" that bends the load-bearing beams of the sculpture. The experience becomes ecstatic."

With a holistic attitude where every living being can find their own inner light, one can awaken and recognize in that emptiness an illumination: "The glory" (2022). In the large yellow monochrome, a 2-meter square, the artist opens up an infinite field where the entirety of the possible extends; the overlay of veils of yellow on yellow reveals an X, but it does not represent, rather it is an unknown that directs us towards a new awareness. Contemplating "La gloria," the veil of Maya lifts and reveals what lies beyond mere sensory reality. It is only in this moment that we can perceive opposites, not as a polarization of reality, but rather as a synthesis of the whole. Opposites illuminate us, they do not separate us; rather, they complete us, connecting us with the other within ourselves, making us feel part of a whole. They free us.

No form, No substance.


In this text, I have followed a personal and imaginative reading path of the works, which in the end I realized to be ascetic, akin to Hugo Ball's, an attempt to break down the dominant language as a protest against the "grandiloquent words" of bellicose governments and the prevailing logic that lead both artists to anarchically disrupt the rules of syntax. The art of reduction and subtraction are part of the same quest for inner freedom where there is no difference between ascetic, aesthete, and revolutionary.

Alessandra Poggianti,
May 2024
[Independent curator and co-director of Kunstverein Milano; board member of Carico Massimo]

Introduction to the works of Daniele Di Luca without text

"Indifferent is the point from which I must begin;
there I shall once more return"
Parmenides, On Nature.

"The appearance of the being is the appearance of the totality of beings that appear. The parts are a multiplicity.
The appearance of a part is the relation of transcendental appearance to a part of that totality."
Emanuele Severino, Foundation of Contradiction

"We can define rituals as symbolic techniques to feel at home in the world. They transform being at home into being in the world. They transform the world into a reliable place.
They stand to time as a home stands to space. They make time inhabitable."
Byung-Chul Han, The Disappearance of Rituals

The blank page belongs to the artist. The writer returns to it after witnessing the method of his art, the journey through and with his works.

After experiencing "White Noise," a conscious emergence of color in symbiosis with the other.

Before or after the monochrome of "La Gloria," passing through, layer by layer, through unveiled, veiled, and salvaged colors until becoming one.

Passing in front of and within the works of Daniele Di Luca is a ritual where word and matter are shaped into an essential reality, "distracted" in appearance only by certain details, in the profound sense of "distract": to turn eyes, breath, thought, and heightened attention back to the content.

All these attentions involve the time we are in - for the artist who constructs as well as for those who visit his works - a complex of energies that requires a satisfied hunger.

So here is "The Fly's Table," the tesseract of the fourth dimension, its hypercubic cross turned upside down to testify that we, humanity, have appetites, we aspire to new energy to understand. With sweetness, with sugar deposited on wood, on the ground, for insects that have kinds of consciousness different from ours. And the same need: to fly, to fly as high as possible, to see more clearly.

There is a new gentle "doing" - "doing," "poetry" - in Daniele's art, after the anger, the rebellion first figurative then abstract of past years, better, surpassed as necessary stops, in view of the landing.

A conquest never easy, a reading that becomes more complex each time in the simplicity that appears.

"Reverse Pendulum," towards any sky like leaves that hide a blooming flower.

Like leaves and flowers supporting and emerging from the "Passive Line," which mirrors, reflects, and reflects every presence, the presence.

It's a will that grows strong in its absence, to make room for that "Joy of Everything" of Severinian memory. Finding resonance in "Cherishing emptiness": a painting ready to welcome every light, alien in appearance but concretely grounded in its renunciation of every deprivation.

Because we are at the "The limits of the world".

There will be abandonment. Yet we will not abandon it. We will initiate a new discourse devoid of waste, ready to host the care of our being here and now.

NO FORM, NO SUBSTANCE: an open page on the horizons we are, on the horizon that is within us.

Luca Traini,
May 2024
[Teacher of History and Philosophy, writer, and art curator. Co-founder of Neoludica GameArtGallery]


Entering the sacred space of the exhibition, in the deconsecrated church of San Giovanni, is an immersive, all-encompassing experience that goes beyond a simple art show, because all the installation work presented by Daniele Di Luca revolves around a reflection on being, existence, and caring for the other.

The artworks transform the environment without altering it, veiling it with signs and meanings, with the sculptor's on-site work lasting two weeks, born from subtraction, capable of going beyond appearances to slide into the author's philosophy and also into the archetypal spirit. They bear witness to world events, connected beyond any presupposition of thought but linked to it in the unveiling of being.

His artistic-evolutionary path originates in form and plastic sculpture, then transforms together with painting and mark-making, arriving at a new, relaxed, meditative rhythm rich in existential assumptions.

There is a movement in the composition of forms, even where they seem to be annulled, a movement that is soul-color-light-matter. A path is created within the space, a search for the finite to arrive at meaning, to be able to pause in front of creation. The artwork is a 'what would have been anyway, irreversibly', in brass as well as chestnut wood and acrylic paint. Here, now.

Every pause is imbued with meditation, in the intimate relationship between the observer's sensory perception and the appearance of the de-sign of each individual piece. Every part of the installation has the coherence of a cosmos, it is everything and one in connected diversity."

Debora Ferrari,
May 2024
[Art director and exhibition curator, cultural marketing strategist; publisher of the art book series Musea_TraRari TIPI]