Creator of shadows: Fabrizio Corneli

Bagliori a Kobe Fabrizio Corneli - Or Not Magazine

“Bagliori a Kobe”, 2001, aluminium, stainless steel, lamp, shades. Installation dim. mt. 8×8. Permanent installation at Shushinkan, Kobe, Japan

Dreaming woman with animals Fabrizio Corneli - Or Not Magazine

“Dreaming woman with animals”, 2010, varnished brass, halogen lamps, shades. Installation at the MoA University Museum of Art, Seoul

Altro Fabrizio Corneli - Or Not Magazine

“Altro”, 2010, copper, halogen lamp, shades. Copper dim. cm.30x26x20. Projection dim. around cm.250×200

by Alessandro Trabucco


The subject of shadows has always fascinated creative minds, especially due to the fascination and existentialist considerations (but also ethical ones) that have been brought about by this physical “entity” in various eras and with various expressive languages.

In literature the protagonist of some famous short stories and novels is shadow, or rather its absence, which is considered as a bargaining chip whose value is actually priceless and of the utmost importance (as the classic “moral of the story”).

Adelbert von Chamisso wrote about this subject: his legendary character Peter Schlemihl sells his shadow to the Devil for a bottomless wallet full of gold, only to find that a man without a shadow (such a discreet and silent presence) is shunned by human society.

Finestra della Moschea di Qeycoun III Fabrizio Corneli - Or Not Magazine

“Finestra della Moschea di Qeyçoun III”, 2005, brass, halogen lamp, shades. 240×140. Brass box dim. cm. 40x43x15

SAinT Fabrizio Corneli - Or Not Magazine

“SainT”, 2000, sphere of sandblasted optical glass, steel cables, halogen lamp. Sphere dim. cm.10. Permanent installation at chiesino di Sant’Andrea in Tontoli, Prato

Melanorgia Galathea Fabrizio Corneli - Or Not Magazine

“Melanorgia Galathea” 2008, kiln colours on scientific glass bottle, brass, halogen lamp. Glass dim. cm. 17x17x38, projection dim. variable. Courtesy Gall. Nuova Pesa, Roma

Even though in the past shadow was a secondary and descriptive aspect, it has gradually gained an important role in visual arts, so that it has become the main character, the cornerstone of the work, in perfect balance with the amount of light it produces.

Among the protagonists of this “aesthetics of the shadow” there is Italian artist Fabrizio Corneli, who has performed some amazing and evocative works of art since the early 1980s.

The artist creates installations in which the light source is no longer an external presence or its own metaphor, it is rather a physical entity inside the work, tangible but immaterial, whose forms are shaped as sculptures but projected onto a wall like two-dimensional images.

Bolla Fabrizio Corneli - Or Not Magazine

“Bolla”, 2011, polished and bonded aluminium, halogen lamp, shades and reflections. 80x80x80, projection dim. variable

Punta Fabrizio Corneli - Or Not Magazine

“Punta”, polished and bonded aluminium, halogen lamp, shades and reflections. Height cm. 120, projection dim. variable

Think of the Sundial, the old solar clock placed on the walls of buildings, consisting of a pointed metal piece on top of a flat piece of stone, where time was measured by the position of a shadow made in sunny weather.

Corneli’ s work has got peculiar features, especially with regard to this dual phenomenal characteristic of light,  which is an electromagnetic radiation and which finds its most meaningful expression both as revealer and creator of shapes. But his works are also made of the very substance of light and of its opposite as well, as the result of subtracting parts of it to create negative images, stylized objects, faces, people and images belonging to everyday life and to the past history of art.


Fabrizio Corneli, “Iperboreo I” (1995/96) / “Laboratorio — Nuotatore” (“laboratory — swimmer”) 2002

Iperboreo I Fabrizio Corneli - Or Not Magazine

“Iperboreo I”, 1995/’96, copper, halogen lamp, form of light. Height cm. 190, copper box dim. cm. 20x21x20

Laboratorio - Nuotatore Fabrizio Corneli - Or Not Magazine

“Laboratorio-Nuotatore”, 2002, sphere of optical glass, wood, pvc, steel, halogen lamp, shade. Sphere dim. cm. 10. Courtesy Gall. Studio Trisorio, Bologna

The works  Iperboreo I and  Laboratorio — Nuotatore (Laboratory-Swimmer) well represent the two different ways in which Fabrizio Corneli uses light.

In the work Iperboreo I, which dates back to 1995/96, a wall-mounted object performs two functions: it is a sculptural element and constituent of the installation, and, at the same time, a light diffuser.

A human figure made of light takes shape from it on the wall, as by magic: It’s a full figure, in profile, gently holding the object in his hands, as if it were a precious relic of mysterious origin. An image made of pure energy, impalpable, something we can see and recognize, free to imagine a story, the event portraying a gesture that, though simple, has an emblematic and explosive visual strength.

The work Laboratorio — Nuotatore (Laboratory-Swimmer), which dates back to 2002, consists of a delicate projection of a shadow by means of a small glass ball. Here the ethereal lightness of the figure hovering on the empty wall emphasizes the transparency of the image. This intangible presence can be understood only by observing it, without using any other sense except sight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *