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Paolo Chiarloni downloads images from the Internet. These images‚ together with those he finds on television or in magazines and newspapers‚ are his starting point for the invention of minimal stories whose protagonists are ordinary men‚ women and children‚ or less familiar characters such as – in this exhibition – an Iraqi woman‚ African women‚ a Sumo wrestler and even famous people‚ such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Afghani leader Massud‚ or fictional figures taken from films‚ like “Private Pyle” from Full Metal Jacket.

Paolo’s invention starts here‚ from these various subjects which are placed together‚ sometimes without being related at all‚ while at other times a relationship is created between them. Although this relationship can be totally arbitrary. Thus Paolo combines –though it can be a combination left to chance − figures and objects in a way that is paradoxical and extreme with sometimes grotesque results. However‚ somehow these micro−narrations make sense; the meaning springs from a rapid and energetic synthesis which holds the images together by creating instantaneous short−circuits. What surprises us most in Chiarloni’s painting‚ is the radicalism of his critical view of a world he sees as absurd. This has nothing − or little – to do with existentialist issues. The world Paolo refers to is today’s world‚ the globalised world in which goods‚ but more often exploitation and injustice‚ are traded around the world. This is a world which he castigates ironically‚ or‚ from time to time‚ he light heartedly makes fun of....

But apart from changes in his conceptual perspective‚ what else has changed‚ in recent years‚ in the way this young artist from Turin makes art.? These have been intense years for Chiarloni‚ years of reflection and solitary hard work‚ years spent storing‚ assimilating and processing images so as to invent a new vocabulary. We can definitely say that‚ over this period of time‚ Paolo has cleared out his space – or‚ rather‚ he has emptied it out by making the background flatter– and has simplified to the maximum his composition‚ whilst the images have become more compact inside a boundary which‚ while containing them‚ also defines them. However‚ some of the earliest‚ original aspects of his painting remain evident. Such as the deformation of his subjects‚ which the artist has further developed by working on the individual figures using thick layers of material and bright colours (material and colours which betray a sensitivity to Transavantguard influences). But he also makes use of other tools: for example‚ he modifies the sizes and proportion of the figures in relation with one another‚ or ruthlessly cuts images to express a spirit of desecration and rebellion. Or‚ yet again‚ grafts together unrelated images‚ producing as a result a circle of hell filled with monsters...

Where can we place this artist within today’s variegated art scene? This is a difficult question. Possibly‚ I think we could go so far as to compare him to Basquiat‚ or going further back into the past‚ even with Grosz. Yet that deformation of the human figure in the most varied and different ways‚ which is strongest hallmark of his style‚ suggests that we could place his work within the category of “mostruosità” (monstrosity) which Ubaldo Fadini has considered as a current whose origins lie deep in the past‚ but which is still very much present in contemporary art.

Anna Minola

Paolo Chiarloni‚ An Anthology of the Imagination

Part dream and part reality‚ light hearted images with a bitter aftertaste which sometimes be rather disturbing. Paolo Chiarloni’s work attracts us by its immediacy‚ and by its chromatic variety. His works speak to us about what they are made of and what they portray‚ nothing else.

These are micro−stories to be hung on the wall‚ a kind of sarcastic cartoon‚ based on the element of pure play‚ an element whose rediscovery can result in a new way of enjoying art and of accessing the everyday world. In the midst of so much art that is deeply committed and challenging –both for those who create it and those who look at it−‚ among concepts so abstruse that the viewer is lost within them‚ from time to time art needs to provide a refuge: a safe haven where the eye and the brain can be refreshed.
Paolo Chiarloni’s project can be seen as fulfilling this function: a journey into the imagination‚ a game of eccentric‚ grotesque cross−references‚ which remains‚ however‚ just a game. If the period of transgression in art has come to a close and is no longer considered fashionable‚ then we can approach this artist’s work by enjoying the narrative dialectic with which it is infused and entering into the vaguely “regressive” spirit which the artist himself is seeking to confront.

To begin with‚ it is worth attempting an analysis of his formal choices. Chiarloni’s works feature a background occupying at least fifty per cent of the whole painting; it is the neutral basis on which lie satellite figures‚ slightly drifting‚ and it is by virtue of its neutral function in relation to the entire composition that it plays such an interesting role in terms of perception of space. The choice of gradually flattening the background‚ to the point of making it monochrome and even‚ has been part of the artist’s growth process. He has moved away from the backgrounds covered in gold leaf‚ which were a feature of his earlier works and were the result of a desire to achieve three dimensional effects – or at least‚ to play with the effect of reflections to enhance composition.
Now it almost seems as though upon the completion of the subject‚ the “leftover” space on the canvas must be treated in the same way as in “ancien regime”portraits‚ in which a dark unvarying background with no pictorial elements helped to focus attention on the subject. In other words‚ the background had nothing to add. Yet‚ in actual fact‚ if one wanted to reverse its function‚ these monochrome and compact backdrops turn Chiarloni’s figures into “negative silhouettes”. The artist also uses a different technique for applying oil paint‚ depending on whether he is working on the background or the subject.
This helps to create‚ at a material and composition level‚ the striking difference existing at the conceptual level. The thickly painted monochrome background has an uneven orange−peel texture‚ whereas the figures are painted in “velatura”‚ a layer upon layer technique. The shaping and the rendition of volume attribute to the figures a glossy texture which makes them stand out against the matte background. The clash caused by this contrast creates the effect of an “a levare” painting‚ meaning that the subjects portrayed seem to be pre−existent to the background‚ as if they were frescos that had been concealed under plasterwork.
As for the figures‚ the source of inspiration is the Internet or newspapers‚ which Chiarloni combines according to purely imaginative criteria‚ or in order to comment ironically on current events or political news. The work of extrapolating the subjects from their original contexts to place them in the new space of the canvas may recall collagetechniques; thus the opposition between the “painted” area (figures) and “coloured” area (plain background) is created. The idea of relative non involvement of the subjects in relation to the background is further highlighted by the lack of a supporting base; the “painted” elements‚ lying on the background or emerging from it‚ cast no shadows on their surroundings; they are often placed on different imaginary planes and‚ following the same principle‚ they are represented in proportional relations differing from the real. Thus‚ a lap dog can be as big as a little girl and a man’s torso can be placed inside a blender.

This playing about with “disproportions” is‚ perhaps‚ the artist’s most effective communication technique; through the scrambling of normal dimensions‚ the visual perception is thrown off track and a series of conceptual cross−references are created.
The choice of combining subjects which in reality are placed in very precise categories of dimensions‚ while removing the normal logic of their proportions‚ leads us into an interpretative game based on symbols‚ in which there is no need for the subject to be portrayed as a whole. Often the face‚ or a detail‚ or any other symbolic reference‚ is all that is needed to create a precise idea. As in the case of Afghani leader Massud‚ whose face appears on top of an old steam engine‚ or of a student who seems to have the head of a surgeon on a leash.

Through a critical analysis‚ in Chiarloni’s work it is possible to trace some of the ingredients which modern and contemporary aesthetics consider as the infantile dimension of art.
The figures are simple‚ essential‚ thus acting as a guide to the simple linear narrative proposed by the work. Ultimately‚ the bizarre associations‚ the “allegorical” cross−references are no less than stimuli through which the artist persuades the viewer to engage with him in a game of attributing concepts to images (the same game that the artist himself has played as he produced the work)‚ using the tools of surrealism‚ resulting from the apparent casualness of the matching of images in his paintings.

The game rests on the oscillation point between the time when a thought springs from the mind‚ absolutely pure‚ just as it would spring from a child’s imagination‚ and the processing of this thought by the adult consciousness‚ loading it with sarcastic overtones‚ as can be seen here in the paintings of celebrities. Chiarloni’s portraits of eminent figures such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta act as a mental safety valve‚ a release of tension. They are eccentric provocations with no double aim‚ and the child pulling faces right above is the symbol of the childhood tendency to make fun of everything... perhaps shared by the artist himself. And how can one not be amused to see the monster from the film Alieninside a Fiat Cinquecento? Or not wonder what an African woman dressed in traditional costume is doing carrying a whole ham under her arm? Yet‚ even when the artist is using images from current affairs‚ his symbolism seems to be pervaded by an innocent childlike quality which negates the idea that what we are looking at could contain a controversial message‚ or‚ even less so‚ a message of accusation.
It is through these compositional and cognitive devices that the communication opens out like a story‚ almost always based on the interaction between two subjects. The narrative moment is achieved by the conceptual distance between elements placed in relationship one with the other‚ and‚ on all the metaphorical references they can trigger. In actual fact‚ in some of these works there is a very wide margin of interpretation‚ consistent with the creative line adopted by the artist‚ which is based on total freedom of interpretation‚ from the viewpoint of the both the artist and the viewer. The redeeming playful functionis yet another stage of the exploration of the role of the infantile approach in art‚ amply represented in art and art criticism during the previous century.

The canvas can become a cartoon strip‚ an illustration enclosing the beginning and end of the imaginative and cognitive path. And in the distance‚ as previously mentioned‚ the dream element comes into play. The narration is expressed in the incoherence dominating the proportional relations‚ in the incongruity simultaneously linking and dividing the related objects‚ all aimed at creating references that oscillate between a game of mischievous allusions and the eccentric−grotesque theme. The disturbing note which can be detected here could be attributed to the difficulty‚ for the viewer‚ to let him/herself be carried away by the momentum of the artist’s liberating insight.
Therefore it is no surprise that‚ in fact‚ disquieting factors are thought to lie behind the infantile creative act as such.
On the verge of caricature‚ dominated by strained matching of subjects and exaggeration‚ Paolo Chiarloni’s work brings us face to face with a number of very different interior worlds‚ normally repressed in our culture‚ in which each of us will test our own limits of censorship. Thus‚ he enjoys telling us how much he would love to see a policeman kitted up in his anti−riot gear riding a docile cow instead of a stamping horse; and how an astronaut with a wooden leg could be the perfect modern substitute for Long John Silver and‚ just as a child would‚ he plays with the idea of unrepressed erotic instinct in the portrait of the woman engaged in erotic games with a dog...

Artists are becoming progressively more interested‚ not in the child’s approach to art‚ but in the essence of being a child‚ in all its different aspects: the innocence attributed to children‚ the use of play as a liberating activity‚ the disturbing elements of a child’s identity.

Elena Ientile

Vista con studio

Nel cuore del centro storico a Torino‚ in via Carlo Alberto‚ arrampicato sulle scale di un nobile palazzo con la facciata rifatta ma con un interno umido‚ vissuto‚ un po’ fatiscente. Qui sta lo studio di Paolo Chiarloni‚ un giovane pittore che ho conosciuto di recente e che mi incuriosisce.
Questo studio è anche un appartamento: qui vive e lavora‚ sovrapponendo disordinatamente tele vecchie e tele nuove‚ libri‚ appunti‚ alle cose di tutti i giorni‚ che gli servono per la sua quotidianità. Si dice che lo studio sia il volto dell’artista‚ che il modo di occupare fisicamente uno spazio si rifletta su ciò che poi si vedrà nelle opere: non so se questo sia vero fino in fondo‚ certo è che una simile tipologia‚ in un momento in cui molti inseguono spazi industriali in periferia o il più comune cubo bianco‚ stimola osservazioni lontane‚ se mi si passa il termine a volte penso alla parola “bohemien” ma senza alcuna ricercatezza snobistica‚ penso ad un’aria decadente‚ ma sincera‚ a quello spirito misterioso così presente nella mia città che non accenna a scomparire e ritorna negli anni‚ inquietante e leggero‚ nonostante tutto.
Paolo Chiarloni è un pittore avulso alle frequentazioni accademiche e il suo modo è frutto piuttosto di una ricerca “en solitaire”‚ di una meditazione personale attraverso sensazioni e idee che gli arrivano soprattutto dall’esperienza visiva diretta.
I suoi nuovi quadri‚ quelli che oggi ne segnano il debutto‚ sono forme paesaggistiche “ideali”‚ cui non interessa‚ né vi si puo’ rintracciare‚ il dato di realtà.
Paesaggi diurni e notturni popolati da strane presenze organiche‚ di non precisata origine‚ che hanno dell’uomo e dell’animale‚ del simbolo e della raffigurazione: ci vedo echi del Max Ernst più magico e surreale che‚ mi ricordo‚ affascinava la mia curiosità da ragazzo‚ e soprattutto ci vedo le Amalassunte di Osvaldo Licini‚ quelle straordinarie figure enigmatiche nell’ultimo periodo del pittore marchigiano dopo il suo distacco dall’astrazione‚ figure incredibilmente in anticipo sui tempi‚ avvolte nel mistero‚ indecifrabili‚ seduttive e lunari. E sorprende rintracciare echi così particolari in un giovane pittore appena trentenne‚ fuori dalle mode del momento‚ lontano dalla ricerca di freddezza così contemporanea: questo mi piace‚ tentare una strada meno battuta senza autocompiacersene‚ segna di una curiosità e di una vivacità intellettuale da seguire.

In verità Chiarloni è affascinato soprattutto dal viaggio‚ spostamento fisico e mentale‚ dall’andare verso Oriente in cerca di stimoli non solo per la propria arte ma anche di nuove aperture per la mente. Osservando con attenzione i quadri ritroveremo una gran quantità di motivi che “citano” l’Oriente‚ ma sempre di sfuggita‚ senza diventare pittura didascalica o illustrativa: montagne dalla forma appuntita‚ case col tetto a cono‚ uno strano bestiario di animali fantastici che uniscono i loro caratteri a quelli degli umani‚ e poi gli animali sacri‚ le figure divine e mitologiche‚ e quindi le gamme cromatiche‚ sia quelle arse dal sole dai toni gialli e rossi molto carichi e accesi‚ sia quelle immerse nel blu‚ un blu lunare e malinconico‚ opalescente‚ raffreddato. Sono Paesaggi di giorno e paesaggi di notte‚ dominati volta a volta dal sole o dalla luna‚ i due assi spazio−temporali attorno a cui si snoda la sua attuale ricerca figurativa.
Ho dunque buone aspettative per la pittura di Paolo Chiarloni‚ che contiene anche qualcosa di liberatorio e misteriosamente terapeutico. Perchè si sa che l’arte non risolve nulla‚ ma almeno aiuta a vivere meglio. E che questo augurio lo accompagni nei prossimi viaggi‚ nelle altre avventure del colore.

Luca Beatrice


La materia pittorica ora si addensa opaca e corposa nelle terre e acrilico‚ ora si illumina ferma‚ poi muove fluente nell’olio; i colori si accendono nel primo piano contro sfondi ampi spesso scuri variati di luci.
Sogni‚ viaggi‚ letture‚ pensieri prendono forma e si muovono sulla superficie della tela in composizioni ben calibrate.

Adelina Albert

La mostra

Paolo Chiarloni guarda e sogna‚ viaggiando con lo sguardo e con la mente.
Ne nasce un mondo pittorico che evoca una Terra mitologica al crepuscolo della vita‚ milioni di anni fa. Deserti luminosi‚ mari oscuri‚ fuochi‚ albe‚ soli lontani‚ sagome di montagna‚ pagode. In un naturalismo naif sovvertito da un cromatismo cupo e acceso‚ che visualizza orizzonti di un suo spazio interiore magico e simbolico. Sono paesaggi abitati da strane creature‚ animali di un bestiario personale e fantastico‚ totem sacri che si stagliano silenti.
Paolo Chiarloni‚ giovane artista torinese che inaugura oggi alle 18 la sua prima personale a cura di Luca Beatrice‚ dà forma a una dimensione enigmatica e misteriosa‚ dove sfondi e personaggi evocano atmosfere arcane. Una pittura dal tratto misterico in cui si fondono contaminazioni biografiche‚ paesi lontani e tanta fantasia creativa di una sensibilità attenta.
Dice Paolo: “Assemblo spunti e stimoli in metafore che immagino quotidianamente”.

Olga Gambari