PAOLO CERIBELLI

“Limits are a state of mind! Overcome the limits all together.”

Paolo Ceribelli works on various mixed media. His work is mostly focused on the manipulation of tree dimensional small plastic toy soldiers meticulously placed onto canvases. He creates with them a pattern, a geometric structure setting out imaginary armies sometimes forming world maps.

Learning from the masters such as Lucio Fontana and his disciples Enrico Castellani and Agostino Bonalumi, Ceribelli’s works goes further that the perspective of a painting and transcript in space and 3D. move He plays with the canvas with a multitude of tiny objects: toy soldiers, jeeps and tanks. In Ceribelli’s works as Chiara Canali points out in her introduction to the catalogue of an exhibition of his work “unlike Boetti’s Arazzi, which are handcrafted reproductions, the artist and the executor correspond in a process where, once conceived, the image becomes a recreational expedient and takes shape in the hands of the artist. Although the result is achieved through a strictly mechanical and mathematical procedure, manually executed by gluing one soldier after another on the canvas, it is highly pictorial and expressive.”

In 2006, Ceribelli produced Soldiers, the real creative turning point in his technique, language and content. “The tiny colored plastic soldiers are a provocation, describing a geography of territorial relations based on indiscriminate use of anonymous, non-differentiated military masses. The choice of this material, “explains critic Giuseppe Blando ”is also a reflection on the unsuitability of simulating war in children’s games. The World Flags series consists of shape reproducing the flags of the nations where the presence of the toy soldiers acquires a decorative aspect and gives the surfaces a mobile density […] Ceribelli’s toy soldiers form flow, like a mosaic tesserae creating circular circuit, the symbol of growth and development, built from small marching soldiers, the expression of the idea of a vitalistic process of destruction. In Circles of Africa, the African continent formed through a series of concentric circles which expand outward in centrifugal fashion, resembling a shooting target, whereas in Tutto torna, the movement that dominates the piece enhances an intriguing circular motif. The soldiers are transformed into a sign, a spark of life, a symbol of a play, evoking potential death and destruction.

Ceribelli’s representation acquires a political value, an ironical criticism of encoded systems, as if, through his work, the artist could modify and change the real world, as if the current geopolitical situation could be altered by a creative process.
His language is abrasive and is open to interpretation, although the intention of attributing the sense that war is a “game” can be ruled out. With is almost obsessive use of colored plastic toy soldiers to form original geographical maps, Ceribelli emphasizes the geo-historic presence of a constant and dominant thought of war, and, simultaneously, mitigates its alarming presence through the fantastic transfiguration of the toy soldier into a brushstroke of paint”. Courtesy Giuliano Papalini.

“There is a gesture in the manipulation of the material - and above all in arranging the toy soldiers on the canvas - to which the artist gives great importance, because in this "doing" each structure takes on a meaning and each spatiality embodies variations of values. Paolo's works are plastic, three-dimensional and go beyond the classic frontal fruition in order to be experienced in visions from multiple points of view, whether they are captured in the optical or conceptual meaning; the bird's eye view from above is interesting, essential for understanding the Gestalt construction and their right proportion. In this case I like to recall one of the laws of Gestalt (coincidentally the law of common destiny) which affirms the tendency to perceive as belonging to a single object the things that move together, at the same time and in the same direction: the masses , taken as a whole, they assume a single identity. Identity given in this case to the armies that move and concentrate on Paolo Ceribelli's paintings and that vary, from work to work, their distribution and density.
Christina Trivellin, author, art critic, journalist and curator in Italy.

Paolo lives and works in Milan, Italy. Paolo has no current artworks available, but he often takes on commissions.
Please see a selection of his latest works.
Please inquire further if those are of any interest, we will be happy to answer any questions, you may have.

Curriculum Vitae.


Your body of work consist of soldiers, is there any correlation with war or any political and/or social issues you wish to transmit through your creation?

I am deeply against wars, I believe that some of my works say exactly what I think. An aspect that I like about my work, perhaps also one of the reasons why it is so transversal is the possibility of a double reading of it.
In the American flag made with tanks, there are those who see a warmongering message and those who see a patriotic message, this amuses me a lot.

You mention in your biography, in 2006, when you started working on this conceptual art of soldiers, you asked yourself why do children play with little soldiers that represent in essence war, have you managed to find an answer or at least your answer to this question?

I have not found an answer as to why, I have a sufficiently adult view now to be able to say that it is part of the human condition to be in conflict.
The war game played with toy soldiers is nothing more than a training...

Some of your pieces are created with many soldiers on them. How many soldiers did you manage to put in one piece and how long does an average piece take?

Mentally when I glue the soldiers on the canvas I count them but then I stop and then start counting again, never knowing how many they actually are. I can create a medium sized piece in a week but this is only because I have been doing it for more than 12 years, it is still a matter of training...

You mention that you go to schools and teach children about your work and art in general, do you speak to them about war and what are your views on it?

I try to shake their consciences by explaining to them that the real war is very far from the game depicted by the toy soldier.

For me, what makes the pieces interesting is how you place and arrange the toy soldiers on the canvas. It feels meticulously organised and thought. Is there a meaning or a value behind the arrangement of the soldiers itself?

Thank you for this question, the positioning of each toy soldier on the canvas is the thing that interests me most in recent years, I use five shapes of toy soldiers, each very different from the other, I will send them to you so you can see them. Over time I have learned to know the limits of each, now automatically calculate how many soldiers will be on a single line. I try to erase the figure of the toy soldier by using and bending it to my will, I like to think of myself as a painter...

Do you also try to recreate this sense of individual as per an army man with each toy soldier and yet this huge sense of patriotism and belonging to the same group that is unified is transmitted by the fact that they all are ranged in lines and look towards the same direction, is that correct?

It might be correct if I were a patriot, but I'm not...