Fabio Viale is a sculptural artist based in Turin, Italy. At first glance his work seems aligned with that of the Florentine artists of antiquity – detailed and incredibly lifelike marble figures that cast a unique light on the beauty of the human form – however, Viale’s sculptures challenge the idea of what is considered pure, classical art by featuring contemporary tattoo designs on the marble surface.
Viale has produced facsimiles of famous statues such as the Venus de Milo as well as original pieces of his own design, before painting extensive body art onto their alabaster skins. His approach poses questions regarding our views on the artistic value of tattoos and its cultural undertones. Some societies like the Maori of Polynesia celebrate body art, its capacity for individuality and the notion that the human body is a canvas like any other. Other groups view tattoos as a sign of counter culture and criminal activity, such as some jurisdictions of Japan.
This artist invokes the viewer’s own attitude about modern tattoo art and the value it holds to the host. Is a marble sculpture still beautiful when embellished with a sleeve of colourful koi fish scales? Does it enhance the artwork or detract from the marble figure? And is that also true of human body art?