Francesco Diluca


Basilica di San Celso - milano
21st February - 20th March 2022

Francesco Diluca exhibits again in the outstanding Basilica di San Celso.

A complete collection of his artworks will be displayed inside the Basilica together with a live performance during the vernissage.


Notes on the work of Francesco Diluca in the Basilica of San Celso

Angela Madesani

In the past three years I’ve curated a few exhibitions in the Basilica of S. Celso. I feel there is the presence of a fil rouge that connects them all. We are not just witnessing an exhibition space, but a very special welcoming site. This is a locus of silence, history and spirituality that can amplify a sense of strong connection when paired with the right genre of contemporary art. Some of the exhibitions I’ve curated here have been conceived specifically around the location. Some others, like this one by Francesco Diluca, used pre-existent pieces that fit perfectly with the hosting environment.

Among the artworks exhibited many belong to the series Radicarsi. The title refers to roots, a symbol of continuity, memory and rebirth. Although nature has been compromised in the last century, outraged by prevailing consumerism, unfair exploitation and no ethical rules, she never gives up, she pushes through and keeps on fighting to regain what’s been unfairly taken away from her. A strong reminder of Gilles Clèment describing the importance of defaced landscapes in his “Manifesto del terzo passaggio”.

Through this series of works by Francesco Diluca we can sense a connection with the current pandemic, even if their conception was born ahead of it.

A testament to how often artists’ sensibility can be ahead of the current state of affairs.

“From its deep layers there is a lot we can grasp, Radicarsi maps out a hopeful view of the future, the possibility for rebirth and reflourishing”.1 Forests, trees, culture and history all exist thanks to the roots they lay upon, roots to whom we should pay more attention: they give meaning to our existence, without them everything would be utterly superficial.

There is no given continuity, we should observe and study with the utmost interest and attention life’s progress and constant developments. Roots represent life that symbolically embraces everything.


Visit Francesco Diluca Basilica di San Celso exhibition.

Explore the 2022 Portraits catalogue, if you wish to buy it click HERE.

Diluca is a lover of botanical studies, his studio is like a greenhouse where different species of plants thrive in a beautiful light. Roots are not all the same, they are like ideal portraits. Each being is different from one another. This investigation is one of the most intriguing aspects of his work. From each one of them transpires devotion, almost feverish, always pregnant with symbolism, there are referrals to outer dimensions, to conceptualism. Ars e non téchne.

One of the sculptures in the exhibition is in the shape of a man with visible lungs inside the shell, the formal reference is to I Soffi di Giuseppe Penone, beloved artist, but it would be simplistic to think of a mere allusion.

Here the real reference is to the current state of the world, to the everyday drama we are living, to the increasingly less breathable air.

It’s like with his work he managed to align completely with a social dimension, to analyse the ever growing complications of men’s relationship with nature.

This is an exhibition based on the concept of resistance and not resilience, a term such in vogue right now but often used in the wrong context, on the start of a new life, on the blossoming of a new existence, on the possibility of regeneration and rebirth. 

I feel in this reading I can also sense a touch of autobiographical reference.

The main body of work is made of a group of sculptures, a crowd that must be faced by the spectator. After a careful look, essential to access the deeper meanings of modern art, many layers start to unravel.

I am referring to his natural sculptures. Spring with its intrinsic regeneration and floral, reproductive explosion, and winter with its rigidity and incapsulating the drama of inevitable endings. In each one of his works we can perceive a hint to Eros and Thanatos, two opposites tightly entwined.

These are just suggestions of course, there isn’t an univocal reading. There is no certainty, no absolute truth.

In Papillon, another piece exhibited, the icy white of the butterflies outlining the body of many sculptures, is almost blinding. Not surprisingly a butterfly is just the final phase of a short life.

Han reminds us that rituals should have a positive reference. They give value to what we’ve learned so far, acknowledge what has been, remind us of our roots.

Through this work and Diluca’s aesthetic research, we can spot the tension between a beginning and an ending. A reading of life that is almost sacral.

I can easily remember the first time I saw the performance in Francesco’s studio.

I was the only spectator. I was so impressed by it that it’s hard to forget that feeling of excitement. It was like witnessing a ritual of purification for the art, where what counts is the experience of the spectator, constantly morphing by its personal circumstances.

The performance almost obliterates the surroundings, what counts in that moment is only the action and its ontological meaning.

The aim of the artwork belongs in it’s being, in its ability to penetrate the spectator that witnesses it.

In the exhibition are also displayed some pieces from the series Kura Halos, the Greek “human form”.

They are both feminine and masculine figures.

Once again it’s a call to the hidden strenght of a fragile material. In this case the referral is to coral. Coral in our culture is a clear metaphor for the blood of Christ.This is a series of pieces that evokes the veins and arteries of the human body. I’d like to see traces of the anatomy treaties by Andrea Vesalio.

This is the artist’s way of telling the story of our existence under its many facets.

The meaning of the exhibition Ritratti, is precisely this: “All the many different figures share the same fascination, but tell different stories, express phases of evolution or involution, life or death, each one represents a different season”.2 In them we could also see all the progressive stages of life.

The viewer is welcomed by a 2.5 metres high figure, in the guise of Caronte, the ferryman, a guide that introduces us to the dense crowd of characters.

Inside the church together with the pieces from Radicarsi, the artist entertains his guests with the performance Post fata resurgo, taken from a motto by la Fenice. Resurrection after death, the cyclical nature of our existence, a concept dear to him and recurring once again.

It’s at this point that a sculpture made of wool and steel is set on fire, it quickly becomes dust that the artist collects and uses to mold new pieces. The waste material finds his legitimate way into becoming new artwork, in a ritual of alchemic matrix.

“Recycling is a cyclical expression that I often insert in my work. At first the process was almost unconscious, because I’m fascinated by beauty in all its expressions.

Nature contains creation and destruction, so why should I try to condense it in a static moment? Art can evolve into something better or worse than reality. Who can tell? The revelation is that something new is born each time. Post fata resurgo is my greatest artistic expression because it’s something that I create to then destroy. I’m not interested in becoming a sciamanic artist. After birthing a new conceptual idea, the practical execution could be done by anyone”.3 Diluca goes against the mainstream of his time that associates rituals with boredom, and offers his own version of it. I like to witness the ritualistic part of this action, the symbolic reaffirmation of a myth, finally reinterpreted in a positive way. Just like the Korean philosopher Byung Chul Han highlighting the disappearance of rituals within our society.