Fabio Modica was born in Catania in 1978. An apprentice to well-known Italian painters Alberto Abate and Antonio Santacroce, he was soon inspired by the classical Renaissance, occasionally drawing on Greek and Latin mythology. In his early years as a painter, the human figure wrapped up in a Caravaggesque light was his major subject matter and oil paint his favorite medium. His versatile spirit has led him to incorporate many different styles and mediums into his later works, including watercolors, acrylics and chalks.
The encounter with Santacroce in 2002 marked a departure from the representational style towards a semi-abstracted texture. Modica's enduring realism was gradually dismantled by a compelling drive for sheer lines and thick smudges of color.
Over time, Modica has grown a genuine passion for nude art, which has recently inspired a series of black & white paintings on the commodification of the human body and its spiritual decay. In this series, called "Mercification", the absence of color enables the painter to rely entirely on the force of his brushstroke and the gesture of scratching and carving the pictorial surface.
Modica's distinctive mark is seen in his ability to lay down "multi-layered coats of vibrant paint spread over a tortured canvas with vigorous spatula strokes, as if the painter were action painting". His most celebrated artworks are close-in portraits of female faces whose gaze "directs itself to the viewer like a darting arrow". As it has been put, "the meaning of everything is condensed in faces inhabited by beauty or imbued with suffering, all tied up together by a thin red string: the eyes. Hypnotic eyes, of a persistent crystal blue in the intimate fabric of matter and thus as deep as the soul. Eyes, guardians of truths, capable of pulling in the viewer in the fullness of their openness. Eyes interrogating and scrutinizing. Eyes speaking to us."
Fabio Modica's "faces" shape fragments of memories, enigmatic moods, and modernist "moments of being". They have become part of two parallel series titled "Gnosis" and "Prisoners of Matter", both widely acclaimed in the US art galleries where most of Modica's artistic output has been shown since 2013.
The term "Gnosis", Greek in origin, means "knowledge", but not so much theoretical as embedded in action and experience.
The painter strongly believes that Art is the most effective means to enhance self-awareness. The Gnosis series captures individuals experiencing a state of epiphany and self-revelation which suddenly generates a truly eye-opening emotion. The feelings explored are, inter alia: wonder, oblivion, eagerness, elevation, regret, self-denial, loss, composure and liberation.
In the Prisoners of Matter series the subjects are constrained within the material world, symbolized by the painting "matter". Modica skillfully catches the brief instant in which a kind of illumination, which film director Werner Herzog calls "the ecstatic flash, from which Truth emerges", breaks his subjects free from their self-made traps and barriers, so they can awake into a higher level of consciousness.
Fabio Modica has frequently partaken in art events promoting the importance of recycling in Art. A successful cycle of works entirely made of trash materials earned him the third prize at the 2012 international competition called “STOP ALLO 048 degli oggetti” and hosted in his hometown, Catania. Here Modica's portraits arise out of multicolored nails, screws, pins, plastic tools, clipped wires and whirling cables, all of which contributing to a more vivid imagery. His latest artwork of this series is a massive three-piece portrait of a woman’s face forged with used-up denim.
At present, his work has been included in many art shows throughout Europe, especially in England, Spain, France and Italy. The cultural association “SpazioVitalein” and “Ideattiva”, both based in Catania, have been promoting him for years, the latter being especially active in the field of recycling. In Nice, France, Modica’s paintings are permanently displayed at the “Villa Magdalena” Art Gallery.
2009-2010 University of Bologna – Master’s Degree in History and Preservation of Works of Art, Bologna- Ravenna, Italy.
2003-2005 Palazzo Spinelli Fine Art and Restoration Institute, Master’s Degree in Drawing, Painting and Trompe l'Oeil decoration, Florence.
1999-2003 Nike Academy of Fine Art and Restoration, Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art and Restoration, Catania.
2001 Nike Academy of Fine Art and Restoration, Training Course in Restoration of old books, drawings and printed images, Catania.
2000 Nike Academy of Fine Art and Restoration, Training Course in Restoration of paintings, Catania.
2016 Kosmos - Palazzo Della Cultura Musei, Catania CT, Italy
Carnaval - Bill Lowe Gallery - Atlanta - GA
2015 Glimpses of Light - Aberson Exhibits - Tulsa - OK
Gnosis - Galleria Civica Pippo Giuffrida - Misterbianco - CT
Prisoners of Matter - Bill Lowe Gallery - Atlanta - GA - USA
Listening Life, for a Civil Commitment - Auditorium Nelson Mandela - Misterbianco - CT - Italy
Materia e Luce - Officina della Memoria e dell'Immagine - Fiuggi - FR
2014 Hidden Perceptions – Studio A Contemporary Art Gallery – CT
Mediterranean Portraits - Officina della memoria e dell’immagine - Vol.II - Fiuggi - FR
Mediterranean Portraits - Sperlinga Medieval Castel - EN
2013 Sicily Outlet Village – Dittaino (EN) Mostra collettiva “Jeans d’Autore” 7 Giu – 14 Lug.
SpazioVitalein Art Gallery – “Face not only”, 11-22 May, Catania.
SpazioVitalein Art Gallery - “Le forme reciproche” (tr: “The Mutual Shapes”), 2-12 Feb, Catania.
2012 Le Ciminiere Art Gallery - “Stopallo048degliOggetti” - Competition on Recycling Art & Group Exhibition, 17 Nov-6 Dec, Catania.
Opening of the Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo del Presente),13 Oct-13 Nov, Nicosia (Enna, Sicily).
MAS Art Gallery - “Il Colore Demiurgo” -8 Set – 3 Oct, Catania.
Pennisi di Floristella Castle - “Symphony of Lives”-27-28 July, Acireale (Catania).
Artisanship Fair, 4-5 Agosto, Acireale (Catania).
2011 CAL CAUCADE - “Peintures & Poesies aux couleurs de l’Italie”- 16 Oct - 30 Nov, Nice.
Brick Lane Gallery –“Art in Mind” – 26 Nov-10 Dec, London.
Nike Academy of Fine Art and Restoration, 12-26 June Catania.
ESART Gallery – “Art Nou - XII Salone d’Inverno” – 18 Jan-1 Feb, Barcellona.
2010 Art Nou – International Group Exhibition of Contemporary Art – 16-30 Dec, Leon.
L’altrove Art Gallery – “Ritratti di memorie” (tr: “Portraits of memories”) – Ferrara.
“Celeste Prize”, Selected for publication (painting: “Abandoned Circe”).
“Art Gallery Prize” Finalist at the first Edition – Milan.
Brick Lane Gallery , “Art in Mind”, 24 Nov–7 Dec, London.
Villa Magdalena Art Gallery – “Couleurs de l’art, Couleurs de l’ame” – Permanent Exhibition
Il Borgo Art Gallery – “The Art of Nude” – International Exhibition of Contemporary Art, 27 April – 10 May, Milan.
Il Borgo Art Gallery – “Fuori Salone 2010” – International Exhibition of Contemporary Art – 13-26 April, Milan.
Villa Magdalena Art Gallery - “Voyage Dans la Couleur” - 4 April-3 June, Nice. France
TOPOGRAPHIES OF THE DEPTH
by Giovanni Stella - Art Critic
If it is true that the entire output of Fabio Modica unequivocally addresses the viewer, then not only is his work driven by solid aesthetic motives, but it also originates from the fundamental, undeniable assumption that translates into the artist taking moral responsibility towards the recipients of his artistic creation.
This stance has been dismissed by current criticism to the advantage of a libertarian understanding. Hence, the anarchical, self-referential idea of art whereby the sign is the meaning and the consumer is relegated to marginal status. In Fabio Modica's opus everything tends to establish a dialogical relationship with the recipient, seen as a subject no less active than the artist-demiurge. The gaze of his characters directs itself to the viewer like a darting arrow triggering a no-holds-barred duel, in the fashion of a Balzacian Rastignac throwing down the guantlet to Paris from the tower of Saint Jacques : "Et maintenant à nous Paris”.
None of us, once imprudently caught in the challenger's range of combat, can elude the rough dialectical game of that merciless gaze. From that moment, with his startling images, the artist fulfills an emotional relationship whose outcome remains open.
In rendering the human face, with the unmistakable authority of the sign which is distinctive of our time, the artist builds on the great Antonellian lesson of a bilateral, binding relationship, resulting in a transfer of energy between the mysterious subject, surfacing from the dark, and the enticed viewer, unaware of what is to occur.
In Fabio Modica's imagery there is, however, something more: the unmistakable presence of the great Viennese, investigator of dreams and of the appaling depths of our being. Thus, the human face becomes a topography of the soul, a field of investigation for the artist-detective, who never settles for just exploring the grey areas, the intricate paths under track, or the drives escaping the control of consciousness.
In the dense woods, where rays of light pass through a maze of tentacles, where irises glow like spots of light crossing the materic space in the night, and where the duel goes on without end, is Fabio Modica's great theater. Like an artist-scenographer, he lays down multi-layered coats of vibrant paint spread over a tortured canvas with vigorous spatula strokes as if he was "action painting". His texture echoes the American street art methods, which account, among other things, for his success overseas.
This materic quality is the result of a visual culture the artist has taken in due to the fruitful developments of the twentieth century and the last three decades of the new millenium. These years were marked by tenacious experimentations aimed at innovating at any cost by shocking and burning with iconoclast rage even the original language. Fabio Modica has kept himself from such excesses through relying upon his humanistic universe, at whose centre is placed the man, with his load of uneasiness and contradictions. A threatening human figure lends itself to be examined by those who are accidentally or forcedly passing by: having given up their states of atrophy, their reassuring and christallising truths, and their common places, the onlookers are now asked for seeking adventure across the land of the beyond, where everything is unprecedented and hazardous.
After meeting "vis á vis", nothing will be the same ever again. Instability will replace a heavy stagnation, doubt will dismantle every preexisting balance, the straight line will break into pieces and the colour, nervously cut into sharp, regular tiles, will account for the living chaos. This fragmentation, in its early expression, can be traced back to Tiziano and later to Rembrandt's "The Jewish Bride", and finally to Modica's current interpretation of Burri. This is to prove how one can be contemporary without repudiating history.
Translation: Simona Agata Giuffrida