Fabio Pariante 24/02/2022

1.Tell us what you do and your beginnings.

I see myself primarily as a sculptor, but my practice includes printmaking, drawing, painting and installation. My parents, ever dutiful, indulged my childhood ambition to build increasingly complex structures out of wooden blocks. The buildings were often cutaway like a dollhouse to enact scenes of intrigue. Since there were no such corresponding “dolls” available, the spaces remained largely empty, haunted by the ghosts of my imagination.

By the time I reached art school in Chicago, my work took a turn, which brought me back to those formative years. I constructed an architectural model, a scaled down version of the school’s gallery space, for a large sculpture I was making.  Looking down into the model, I realized it didn’t give me a sense of what it would feel like to see and experience the work when entering the gallery.

Pink Sickle Moon with Stars, 2019 © Patrick Jacobs

I found a pair of meniscus (reducing) lenses, cut a hole in the wall of the model and inserted the lenses. I found myself transported, by the subtle warping of light, into another space, and in a way, another dimension of reality.

Since then, for over twenty years, I have developed a series of dioramas viewed through an aperture of bi-concave lenses embedded in a wall. While vivid and surreal, they are disorienting. Nature becomes alien. Quiet, still and undisturbed, they recall the wooden block environments I made as a child, allowing us to conjure up a narrative of our own making.

2.What does your work aim to say?

I’ve long been interested in how nature becomes a construct of desire. I asked myself what a landscape of desire might look like. Through a variety of media, disciplines and processes, I’ve explored the idea of landscape as place, stand in for the human body, and object of desire.

In the non-Newtonian universe of disparate viscosities and fluid love, distinctions between body and place are readily emulsified. Branches and foliage, moist and glistening, transform into flesh and genitalia. I think of these imagined spaces as safe havens for the sexual Other, and even more broadly for an emancipated human spirit.