Art and Wine: let's drink to life with Valerio De Marchi

Sculpture helped me to create the images in my dreams

Upon entering his showroom in Pieve di Soligo in the province of Treviso, you are welcomed by the gracefulness of dozens of beautiful shapely girls. This same gracefulness, loveliness and sensuality is found in the same material from which they are made. Bronze statues weighing tons seem to dace like ethereal ballerinas. These works by Valerio De Marchi are described by Mario Guderzo, director of the Museum and Gipsoteca of Antonio Canova, as "all-embracing fascination".

Discover his work:

De Marchi, how did your art come about?

I'm self-taught, I started when I was thirty, about 50 years ago, and I started by painting. Only later, I abandoned painting as it did not give me the satisfaction I was looking for, and dedicated myself wholly to sculpture, which helped me to create the images in my dreams.

What type of painter were you?

I was a surrealist but abstract art ruined everything: a person who can't draw simply puts two colors together and gets away by calling it abstract art. Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana overturned perception. By making some cuts in a canvas, they said it was a work of genius, but it annoys me even to see it. Let's not forget that someone spent a hundred thousand Euros for a can of "Artist's shit" by Piero Manzoni.

Let's go back to the shape of your artworks, which convey a sense of deep respect and admiration for the female body. How important is the other half of the sky to you in your work and your life?

It means everything. My works are the fruit of passion, which comes from a natural instinct. That's the only thing that enables me to transform beauty into sculpture.

Classic and modern. Your works reinterpret the Greek classics and point towards the future with very modern touches.

Definitely! I have always admired the artworks of ancient Greece, but I also observe those of contemporary artists. I don't have real references or sources of inspiration, but I do consider Francesco Messina to be a great sculptor. I admire Carlo Conte, who was from Moirago in this area, and would cite Arturo Martini among artists from Treviso.

His art clearly strikes a chord with Canova, who came from this very area. Is this a conscious tribute or a spontaneous one?

It's something I am unable to explain rationally. Everything comes about from a passion for beauty, from its shape to its magnificence. Canova is the sublime example. Are you asking if I am inspired by this area? It's certainly a happy part of the world. We are lucky to have this landscape and the people here are simple, good people. We also have a favorable geological position: we are not prone to floods, earthquakes or natural disasters.

Is this why you have not moved away from the province, in spite of your success?

Certainly not. The bigotry in this area does not easily accept nude art. They wouldn't tell me directly but I know there are some who do not approve of my works. My art also serves this purpose:  to open people's minds. There is no point being afraid of a nude statue that can't harm anyone.

Bronze is a hard and seemingly cold material. How are you able to transform it?

A statue is first modeled with plasticine or clay, then you make a plaster cast, then a wax cast, and finally the bronze is melted with the lost wax casting method. My women can weigh over one hundred kilos. 

Have you ever fallen in love with one of them to the point that you were unable to sell her?

In reality, I only make unique statues to order. Otherwise, a run of up to eight copies is technically considered a unique piece, so I don't completely get rid of some of them. Would you like to know if I give them a name? It's more usual for me to number them, because I have made more than 280. On average, it takes me two months to make smaller statues and up to a year for the larger ones.

Color seems to be just as important as the shape and material used.

The typical patina on bronze is a chemically obtained color that changes the effect of the metal. It's possible to obtain several nuances, from red to azure. It adds color.

Is a human model really always necessary or have you mastered the art?

I could also make it up, but I would consider that meaningless. With a model, I feel I give life to a statue. Sometimes, I have done portraits, also of horses, but only on rare occasions. I would never give up a woman for a horse.

It's no secret that you have some very famous clients.

I sell more or less throughout Europe but I know you are referring to Silvio Berlusconi. It was a stroke of luck: I sent him a catalog, and as soon as he received it, he flew here. Quite literally, because he came by helicopter. We joked about the can of Manzoni.

How about making a toast to your next dream?

Here it is: it's a sketch for the piazzetta of Soligo. There is nothing there at the moment, and I can imagine it with four life-sized nymphs dancing in the center. It's still all uncertain but I hope that something will budge before long.

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