Fabio Roncato


“The aspect of this work that I enjoy the most is the opportunity to explore and actively delve into the knowledge of places and people that one encounters along their journey”

AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?

FR: I grew up in a suburban neighborhood of Padua. It was my father who introduced me to art as far back as I can remember. We would watch films by Tom Ford, Akira Kurosawa, and George Lucas together. Among all the influences and inspirations I’ve had, I distinctly remember receiving as a gift ten volumes of ‘L’eternauta’ by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López. I’m afraid that that gift had an irreversible effect on me.


AT: When did it become serious?

FR: After finishing my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, I spent many years working both as a stagehand in theaters and as an assistant in the creation of artworks for others. The process was straightforward: I worked on other artists’ pieces while constantly changing teams, reinventing ourselves each time and gaining new skills. It was a highly practical and formative experience. During those years, I frequently visited exhibitions and attended openings, but a pivotal moment for me was probably Documenta 13, curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. After leaving Kassel, I continued my journey through Germany, but decided to return to Italy earlier than planned. Upon my return, I immediately resigned from my job and decided to open my first studio in the countryside of the northeast of Italy, where I had a vacant country house that used to be my grandmother’s. I began my journey as an artist at that precise moment. Initially, working with the surrounding landscape almost became a necessity, as I had nothing with me but that place isolated and far from the contemporary art stage.


AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your affirmation as an artist?

FR: If I think about my path, there aren’t specific individuals but rather institutions where I have developed my research. Above all, my experience at Bevilacqua la Masa in Venice and subsequently at Jan Van Eyck in Maastricht were the most fundamental to my formation. These have been intense years of exchange and research, a decisive period in the development of my artistic practice.


AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?

FR: I like to think of my artistic research as an exploratory practice. I work in the studio, but much of what I produce indoors results from research conducted elsewhere. I always try to have this approach, seeking opportunities to move between places and try to understand them. The entire span of time it takes to comprehend a place coincides with the creation of my work. This includes studying materials, observing the landscape’s shapes and movements, the encounters I have, and the insights gained from conversations – when verbal exchange is possible.
I believe all these elements, and the casualty of them, contribute to the creation of a sculpture. The studio is used to refine and enrich my research but not to complete it. I view my works as perpetually and serenely unfinished, open to varying interpretations that evolve and speak to the observer’s sensitivity.

Momentum, 2018, Aluminium and bee wax

AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?
FR: The aspect of this work that I enjoy the most is the opportunity to explore and actively delve into the knowledge of places and people that one encounters along their journey. In a special and perhaps unique way, each project builds upon the previous one to create the next. Every single work contains all of the previous ones. My goal is to continue doing this work indefinitely and to make it increasingly collaborative. I believe that the artistic community as a whole can truly have a positive impact on the future of humanity.


AT: What are your favorite tools and materials for working?

FR: Water is undoubtedly the material I resonate with the most. While it might seem counterintuitive for a sculptor to speak of an unpredictable and unmanageable material like water, it possesses an unparalleled sculptural potential. Water is a crucial element in developing imaginative scenarios and visionary dimensions, which I often discover alongside the sculptural forms I manage to create. The movements of water, especially within landscapes, occupy a unique place in the imagination.


AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?

FR: Over time, I have learned not to have any expectations about the final appearance of my works. Every time I do, I end up failing badly. I try instead to listen to the materials I use and create conditions that allow for them to independently behave and develop their shapes in an environment conducive to that. The work often takes entirely unexpected directions and so do my decisions which are made to follow this trajectory. The underlying idea is always to awaken the information tied to the memory of the materials. It’s a process without a predefined timeline; sometimes it takes a few days, sometimes years. Some time, the idea I strive to bring into the tangible world gets stranded in this complicated relationship between thought and the reality of the material. Incompleteness and failure, in this case, are part of a broader vision of work that I have learned to understand and accept over time.


AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?

FR: Most of the time, I try to create critical environments, often seeking out restless places in the landscape that can function as true sculptural agents. In other cases, I modify electrical tools and everyday objects. The concept is always the same: establish a critical reference environment wherein the material and objects involved enter a state of agitation and begin to make decisions to reestablish the calm state from which they were disrupted. When the materials restore a state of tranquility, often changing in form and appearance, I can consider the work I am doing as finished.

Momentum | Work in progress process at Adda river

AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?
FR: Inspiration for me is a state of free and lucid thought. It became clear to me in Venice, where I had access to a telescope and realized the need to go beyond traditional representation tools. I found my human senses insufficient with regards to the assigned cause (understanding what I was seeing), prompting me to use imagination and creativity to perceive the informations I was getting in a new way. Artistic inspiration, in this view, is a state of thought and comes from the need of emancipation from the concrete data of experience, even for brief periods. This liberation allows thoughts to be playful with concepts, within a historical and social context where tangible experience does not provide reliable information and time and space become interdependent and relative concepts, ceasing to exist as homogeneous coordinates.

AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?

FR: The artist who most actively influenced me is Mamoru Oshii. I have closely studied his works and continue to do so. His approach of forsaking time to delve into space profoundly altered how I perceive places. His narratives and the choices he makes to visualize these stories blur perceptions—you don’t just see a description of a place, you are in it. Through his work, I’ve shifted my perspective on my surroundings, beginning to notice our movements, activities, and lives, and how they are doomed to be confined by the construction and appearance of places. These nuances and constraints shape both the landscape’s form and the identity of humans, as well as historical events. Oshii’s films have made me aware of the abundance of information that a space can contain, in a way this tangle of interconnections, history and lives somehow converge in the final appearance of the landscape. This to this day largely inspires the way I move through space and places, the way I explore and the way I see things.


AT: How important is the role of social media for you?
FR: Honestly, I’ve never quite understood it. I’ve discussed this aspect with many artists and can openly confess that I’m at a loss. I think social media, especially those based on visual content, are a powerful tool for spreading one’s artistic practice. However, I struggle to determine if the benefits gained are proportionate to the time spent managing one’s accounts. I’m afraid I don’t have a definitive answer on this matter.


AT: What is your opinion about the development of Web 3.0 (NFTs, Metaverse, etc.) and their impact on the art world?
FR: I generally have a positive opinion. Some of the things I’ve seen seem very promising, and the works of some artists I know are quite inspiring. However, in this initial phase, I sense a certain chaos and an abundance of non-useful content. I believe this is an inevitable period of confusion, awaiting the stabilisation of these mediums and the content produced. This contrasts with my critical view on NFTs, except for a few isolated cases, about which I am still skeptical.

Conscious thought, Fulgura et fossilia | Museo di Scienze Naturali, Brescia

AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?
FR: It’s this very mechanism that provides the opportunity to connect with professionals and, more importantly, serves as a significant amplifier, exposing my work to a vast audience. For someone like me, accustomed to long periods of solitude, this exposure is crucial for growth and the enhancement of my artistic research.


AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
FR: It’s complex; I believe that dealing with creativity in general has ambiguous aspects that can become negative or positive depending on the circumstances. I see art as a form of research, the most exciting part is seeing one’s own works establish relationships with observers in a completely independent way.


AT: What do you do besides art?
FR: Of all my pursuits, one that I find particularly rewarding is my unscientific passion for ornithology, among others.
I take notes on the behaviors birds in particular sparrows, and I try to interact with them. For a while, in my country studio, I had the company of a magpie that followed me in my work and woke me up in the morning. A wonderful creature, with a strong personality, she acted tough all the time but we were friends.


AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
FR: I would like to find always varied and stimulating conditions to develop my work. To make my work increasingly collective, especially in its initial stages. I love working with art and wish to be able to do it forever.



Follow-me | Italian-Pavillion, Gwangju, 2023 | ph.Parker McComb
"My artworks are part of a research path thought to rethink the relations between the knowledge of our surroundings and artistic practice, starting from two key principles: the limitations to which the description of phenomena are 
subject due to our existence as observers and our incapability of acquiring them in their full complexity through our senses.

First and foremost, this reflection is developed through an attitude towards matter, which consists of understanding its potential and placing it in a critical reference system in order to wake it up from its state of sleep. The aim is to place the sculpture in such a position as to develop its own behaviour and identity, not only during the emerging of its aspect but also in its relationship with the observer. 

The right place to host this artistic practice is the space left by the limits of the knowability of phenomena. The aim is to transform both the creation of the work and later its fruition into a path of exploration that attempts to construct knowledge based on the exercise of the imagination".