Quantum Physics through Art: an Interview with Alberto di Fabio

Alberto Di Fabio – Gagosian Gallery – New York – 18 March – 24 April 2010

Alberto Di Fabio has made a name for himself in the art world by combining the disciplines of fine art and natural science. His colorful, detailed abstract images depict everything from biological structures such as atoms and DNA to the far reaches of outer space. The Italian-born artist has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, which he pursues simultaneously through the arts and sciences.

We spoke with Alberto Di Fabio to learn more about his quest for knowledge through art.

In a recent interview, you stated that your work represents your dream of returning to atomic dust in the hopes it will lead to deeper understanding of “unknown magnetic forces.” How does the quest for knowledge of these subjects translate into your recent biology-centered work?

Some of the names of my recent works are conceived to introduce us to a world of energy and spirituality; Body of Light, Astral trip, Ethereal Light, Astral Body, are kind of vehicles of consciousness of our soul. Contrary to what we are accustomed to thinking, is every being a being of energy that guides, directs and controls an external physical body? Are we light bodies consisting of several layers that permeate and revolve around the physical body? It would appear that these layers vibrate at different levels of frequency and intensity and radiate up to a certain distance from the physical body depending on the style of life, the physical, emotional, mental state as records of our present and past life, of our thoughts, fears, joys, feelings, emotions, and desires. Each light body would reflect the distinctive note of every person that is the specific part of the universal energy field we call individuate and that is interconnected and part of the one universal life.

ALBERTO DI FABIO, Fotoni+magnetismo, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 39 3/8 x 39 3/8 inches (100 x 100 cm), Photo by Matteo D’Eletto. Courtesy of Gagosian gallery and the artist. 

You have also spoken about a quantum God. Can you tell us a bit more about what this means to you?

Sometimes to explain a Quantum God, I speak of the sensibility that every one of us should try to feel the heartbeat of our planet, the movement of the cosmic dance. In India, they call it Shiva, in the West we call it quantum physics. We artists feel more strongly, we are like antennas, we feel the breath of the divine wind. There exists a universal spiritual sense in man, in every element of nature and physics. In my work, I try to encapsulate a whole quantum, and I’m passionate about the research, the vibrations of the notes that make up the cosmos. I attempt to decipher this enigma: painting and prayer are the only means to do so. “Ora et labora”

What does the search for, or devotion to this God entail?

The soul’s spirit, with the philosophy and mathematics and the world of subconscious, allow us to feel new dimensions, parallel worlds, different lanes of light.

In some of my paintings are formulas very close to some theories of physics and this is not because I read books on physics, but only because I try to imagine and reproduce our galaxies, neurons, electromagnetism, the energies of the planet. Often I came very close to the reproduction of a formula for a natural phenomenon, without having ever studied, only to have “felt” it.
Well, it’s my perception, however, I try to connect with a Quantum God. I also try to propagate it to the viewer.  In fact, there are several levels of interpretation that suggest something different to each person. My goal is to produce a kind of electromagnetism, of waves, how one can make an optical painting or a sound installation. With this two-dimensional painting, I try to trigger emotions in those who see the kinetic, the extra-sensory.

ALBERTO DI FABIO, Energie, 2010, acrylic on paper mounted on canvas, 29 1/2 x 20 inches (75 x 50.5 cm). Courtesy of Gagosian gallery and the artist. 

How does your choice of medium contribute to your intention with your work and the pursuit of this knowledge?

I love abstract painting and the change of the thousand colors of the world, I love to read books and scientific journals, through the NASA websites, but above all looking to the masters: Giotto, Tiziano, Mondrian, but also writers such as Shakespeare, musicians like Bach. It would be nice to recreate that kind of harmony in contemporary images with the speed of today’s time. I always wonder what it would take today to make one of their paintings, or what it would take to make that kind of music, and I stop to think about the daily rhythms of life that are always so fast, whereas focus is always so difficult. The neurons are removed from their biological time and are subjected to constant anxiety. It is important ‘to stay focused to get closer to knowledge. For sure, one day, he will speak.

How do you go about choosing colors to use in your work? Is this choice more closely related to the scientific themes of your work or the artistic process?

Art and science to me are made of the same matter. I love painting horizontally, I’ve always been attracted by the beauty of water color, I have worked many years on paper because the slide of the brush in this medium, with colored liquid, creates ripples, veils, layers that remind me of the stratification of our magma, maps of rivers, the neuronal synapses. They are imagined forms, but they too are bound by physics, by the way the paper dries.  

Artist Alberto Di Fabio

As an Italian artist working in New York City, you must have a culturally diverse way of looking at life and art. What are the main differences you perceive in the ways America and Italy approach scientific subjects such as Neurology, Biology or Astronomy?

I arrived in N.Y. in the 1990’s. For me, it was a great experience because right there, in New York, art is considered a vital something within the city, with museums like the Guggenheim, MOMA, the Whitney, the New Museum. Then I have to say I was very impressed by the mode of work of my fellow artists, or almost how they were organized in working hours, in the photographic archive of the works, the serial nature of work. For me, it was another world. The New York experience changed the way I work, how I organize my day. Obviously, I was interested as well in all the artists who stayed in New York before me, in American abstraction in particular. I studied these paintings in the museums and clearly they had an influence on my work. I have always been fascinated by the academic study method of the American system. If we think of Universities as Princeton… but biology, neurology, and astronomy are universal subjects.

How do these variations of procedure or intent affect your work?

In the organization of the working times, the attention of materials, and the most important thing, to believe in your dream.

What do you think the world of art can learn from the world of science, and vice versa?

Art and science are both devoted to describing the unseen world.

We must live in a state of perpetual meditation… between art, science, and spirit. The sensory experience is what makes us dream and feel life on different frequencies. Democritus, at the time of Ancient Greece, seemed to already perceive antimatter through the only use of his senses. Every human being has the potential to reach elevation and permutation, to acquire knowledge and revelation of the absolute dogma that we are all looking for.

ALBERTO DI FABIO, Untitled, 1999, acrylic on Chinese paper
28 3/4 x 19 3/4 inches (73 x 50.2 cm). Courtesy of Gagosian gallery and the artist. 

How do you envision the worlds of art and science intersecting in the future?

They have already met a long time ago… by Hermes Trismegistus in our day.

What would you say are the main factors or elements that differentiate your most recent body of work from your previous ones?

An astrophysicist once told me that we only know 4% of what surrounds us…  

I would like to make a scientific cabinet, just like a sort of Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura recreated through objects. I imagine building a window onto the cosmos and bringing everyone on board in a spaceship. A spaceship to enter the atom, which is one of the main forces of nature, along with electromagnetism and gravity. A prolonged journey dilated beyond the space and time that we are familiar with. The sensory is something that makes us dream, that makes us experience life on different frequencies.

Are there any upcoming exhibitions you are particularly looking forward to?

I would like to make a show as a new spatial-temporal portal.

Deianira Tolema

Deianira Tolema

Deianira Tolema is an Italian writer based in Salerno, Italy. She's intrigued by culturally, historically relevant and meaningful contemporary art that challenges conventions. Her goal is to explore everything innovative and out of the ordinary concerning the socio-psychological and conceptual aspects of art-making.

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