Porto Design Biennale: Riccardo Dalisi, the poet of social creativity

The magical relationship between art, design and social commitment on show at the Portuguese design event, in the first retrospective dedicated to the Neapolitan master.  

Artist, designer, architect. Since the seventies he has been involved in what we now call social design, through workshops in the popular districts of Naples. A journey that began with the children from Trajan district (1971-1975), continued with the elderly from Ponticelli (1977) and finally with the young people from Sanità district, from Scampia Mammuth Centre and from the Criminal Institute for minors in Nisida.

Riccardo Dalisi, born in 1931, is the person Maria Milano has chosen as the protagonist of the research on the alternative path to design that is at the center of the reconnaissance of the triptych of exhibitions that composes “Territorio Italia”.  It is still interesting today – moreover, Dalisi is still active and always willing to meet the curious, especially young people, in his studio in rua Catalana – for his “research of a regenerative project capable of introducing change, to trigger chain reactions and to produce actions and objects that last in physical and material time”.

Riccardo Dalisi – The Perfect Imperfection. Museu Da Misericórdia. Curators Ira Palmieri and Andrea Nuovo. Photo Renato Cruz-Santos

To welcome the large corpus of works by “Riccardo Dalisi. The Perfect Imperfection” is the Museu da Misericordia, connected to the church with the same name by an internal corridor: a perfect container to show the sacred and profane heart of Dalisi. The selection curated by Ira Palmieri and Andrea Nuovo embraces the thousand faces of a truly heterogeneous production, ranging from coffee makers and animated sculptures – above all Totocchio, a mix between Totò and Pinocchio – and then small and large sculptures of warriors, Madonnas, musicians and angels, through the mobile structures and many drawings, paintings, poems. The installation is curated by Fulvio Cutolo, a former student and now a study assistant. They planned everything together from Naples, but it was the empathy with space to define the details, in line with the approach Dalisi always adopted. Sculpture and art are on the ground floor of the museum, design on the upper floor – with drawings of pieces not in production, known by few people – even if there is no lack of contamination between the two levels of the museum. In the church there are the sacred sculptures.

All the elements of the display machine are aligned, the synthesis with the space is perfect and knows how to immerse people in the fantastic world of this unique artist who holds together his thousand faces thanks to his own way of understanding technique, well expressed in the voice “about us” on his website. “One can easily speak of architecture, design, art, decoration and, why not, poetry starting from what we call ‘technique’, that is nothing more than a significant aspect, a fundamental moment of every human activity”.

Porto Design Biennale
Territorio Italia, Riccardo Dalisi – The Perfect Imperfection
Riccardo Dalisi
Ira Palmieri, Andrea Nuovo
Exhibition design:
Fulvio Cutolo
Graphic design:
João Santos, Óscar Maia
Museu e Igreja da Misericórdia do Porto
Opening dates:
27 September-24 November 2019

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