“Please, will you come with me to see an artist who works with bones and metal?” Rather reluctantly, I accept the invitation to visit the atelier of Aldo Fabrizio who reveals unexpected surprises.
Traveling through Asuncion is no easy feat. The roads can be treacherous with protruding rocks and craters worthy of any meteorite expedition. Sidewalks high enough to accommodate the seasonal flash flooding washing out the underground drain system that collects both rain water and sewage. Yet, when traveling with a long time resident there is this internal GPS system that lights up to negotiate the mysterious mapping system of Asuncion.
Along the way, I pepper the artist’s friend with questions, curious to know why this artist? What is the connection? A complicated tale of love, betrayal, loss follows. To which, I only can only offer to the conversation, if you love someone, don’t wait, life is short, live it now. We suddenly arrive at an anonymous home on an unnamed street, from my perspective at least.
A tall white washed wall hides secrets behind. Knocking several times on the slender door, with no success, no answer. Until several calls to a cell phone, the door sweeps in. Appearing is Fabrizio, in a pale blue button down shirt and jeans. He is tall, clean shaven, bald with soft deep set eyes and a welcoming smile.
Drawn into the garden, brilliant light lit the center, blinding for a moment. When my eyes settle, a metal sculpture stands tall as though a rib frame of an animal on tall legs. Open spaces breathe in the vibrant green from the near by palm trees. Light flowed through leaving nothing to be hidden.
I glance around the garden, St. George the Dragon Slayer, the patron saint for removing obstacles, rests within an alcove on the side wall and the Virgin Mary painted on a large tile faces the entrance directly. Fabrizio walks us to a solitary green weathered door with a vine wrapping around and a stone vessel standing guard. He opens the door into the dark. Blinded again, he guides the way up a narrow concrete staircase into the light. We enter Fabrizio’s study that takes no prisoners. The walls rage with violence and death.
Knives, guns, ancient weapons adorn the walls. An armoire with mirrored doors block one wall hiding secrets inside. Alongside is a bookcase open for all to see with books on art and philosophy. The room smells of a chronic nervous smoker. An easel overflowing with sketches rests in the corner. Light tries to enter unsuccessfully through the window blocked by wooden shutters. Only dust in the air sparkles a radiance into the space. Street traffic noise floats up, distracting and disturbing an otherwise solemn chamber with Gregorian chants playing in the background. A dinosaur bone type mobile hangs from the ceiling, flying over, protective in manner.
Within moments, the intensity of his art, his message, his philosophy absorbs you internally, as though you are being digested into an unknown space.
Fabrizio is an illustrator, painter, a sculptor and philosopher. Often friends say his art reminds them of H.R. Giger, the Swiss visual arts tis behind the film, Aliens. Not knowing Giger at the time, he acknowledges their similarities, artistic expressions. Though he is inspired by Edmund Munch and Egon Schiele. Fabrizio is intense, pushing the boundaries with fluid skeletons, bones, reeking death.
Selecting illustrations hidden behind a sketch book pad of paper with an Egon Schiele illustration, Fabrizio begins to reveal death as he understands it. Bones, stripped of flesh, exposed, twisted, raw. I ask if his illustrations are of watercolor and ink given the splotches of earth tones layered with precision. No, he explains, he first prepares the paper with matte tea, a traditional herbal tea in Paraguay,
“Matte has everything, tea, yerbe matte, it is a mix.In the world of art, everything is to experiment.”
As he is pulling out one illustration after another, music continues to floats through the room. Revving bus engines from the street below interrupt. A metal chair is dragged over the stone floor.
“our culture is not prepared to deal with death, and these types of images.”
Why do art?
“I feel satisfied. My little contribution to society.”
Using animals bones found in the Chaco, Aldo creates sculptures with metal fixtures often iron, now aluminum, that capture spirits around him who in a way represent protective totems for him. Knowing he is done, when the piece is done, sometimes it takes a week or two months to complete.
When asked about his view on death, he responds with an intensity and passion, urgent to explain,
“A lot of people are afraid for nothing. Death is only a transition. Most people are concerned about death and they stop living.”
Touching his arm, pinching his flesh to his bone, to emphasize,
“This is death. This is our bones. Live now. Be authentic. People are used to masks.”
All the while, Gregorian chants are weaving together the whirling, melting skeletons and the bones anchored with iron floating in the air.
Fabrizio a rare bold authentic artist and philosopher repeats,
“Everyone is so worried about death, they forget to live.”
By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, D.C. (Please follow 9 Muses News copyright use policy.)
Wow! This is amazing! Both the artist and you are amazing!
A wonderful post, Keri, shedding light on an artist and “philosopher” that I would never have a chance to know, exposing at the same time the fear of death. I would love to have a photo of one of his pieces. I have devoted two essays to Death and to the fear of it…the avoidance syndrome to deal with it while living life to its fullest and befriending Death before he knock on the door.
Thank you so much for your comment. It was an unexpected gift to meet Aldo, see his art and listen to his philosophy.
He is, indeed, a secret treasure of Paraguay.
I’ll introduce you to him.
Merry Christmas and many blessings to you,