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Duilio Damilano

Duilio Damilano

There are three useful keys to interpreting the work of Duilio Damilano: symbol, sculpture and emotion. Symbolic key. Damilano was studying architecture, somewhat frustratedly, at the Turin Polytechnic when he heard of Daniel Libeskind’s workshop in Milan. He began attending it and was fired by an approach which combined sense and sensibility in a novel form that revived metaphor and symbol. This line of development would soon lead Libeskind to design his masterpiece, the Berlin Jewish museum. Here, welded into one story (‘symbol’ derives from the Greek symballo meaning ‘I unite’), we find physics and metaphysics, history and meta-temporal reflections. Though obscure in part and not exempt from esotericism, the idea led forward out of the doldrums of the post-modern quotation school that still prevailed in Italy in the late Eighties, and redirected the sights of architecture towards concrete space, seen as the medium in which the invisible becomes visible and manifest. Sculptural key. Damilano is son and brother to sculptors. A feeling for volume is in his DNA. Hence his interest in deconstructivism focusing on the plastic dimension and picking up a tradition - the Fifties and Sixties works of Eero Saarinen, Jørn Utzon and John Johansen - which seemed almost extinct, again due to post-modern tastes. His deconstructivism is more Hadid than Gehry: unity of form prevails over fragmentation, and the tactile is emphasised (to use a category proposed at the turn of the nineteenth century by Bernard Berenson). That is, the architecture-sculpture attracts senses other than sight, and fills the surrounding environment with its own presence. Emotional key. Damilano confesses to an almost cradle-born attraction to architecture. Not just because it acts out and plays host to life, but because it can guide and shape an existence. Good organisation of space makes for orderly activity: if we live in the wrong habitat we tend to be aggressive and unsatisfied. Architecture, just...

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