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Pablo Gentile's prolific artistic practice enables him to creat with a wide range of possibilities. His activity can be divided between an inner practice – evident in canvases and small-scaled sculptures – and a more public scope. This versatility allows his character to come out and enables his sense of freedom as an artist to emerge.

Continual conversation with one's personal archive
Pablo Gentile's sense of self is fluid, unfixed, and manifested through practice. As cultural theorist Stuart Hall explains in his writings about identity and diaspora, we should think «of [an artist's] identity as a 'production' which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within»1. Looking from this perspective, one's sense of identity and one's relation to the 'other' emerges from the making, thus is born from a constant questioning or re-contextualization of inherited and found cultural practices. Renowned critical theorist Homi K. Bhabha explains that one's «cultural past is an 'incubational' presence in our lives: we live with it, or alongside it, in continual conversation with it, and although our views of the past change, and our dialogue develops in unexpected ways, the past becomes us, just as the future begets us»2. This aspect of human condition explains much of Gentile's practice, one that can be characterized by a constant referencing of his own personal archive.
In his early New York City years, Gentile absorbed various tendencies that happen to co-exist in those environs – street-art, graffiti and pop art embedded with a sense of multiculturalism. From those days, he transports within a multitude of inspirational elements that become highly visible in two phases of his vast career – Early Works (1996 - 1998) and Recent Works/Homecoming (since 2004) – in the form of citations, allusions and assemblage.
NYC, where Gentile was born and lived until 1978, offered him possibilities to absorb various cultures. These observations resulted in questioning about other civilizations thus Gentile left his hometown to discover the world. Gentile started his investigations by looking outside the Western canon. The first stop was Japan, where, for a period of six years (1979-1984), he has learned various aspects of Japanese art, from Sumi-e3, a traditional Japanese technique of brush drawing rooted in Zen Buddhism, to Japanese martial arts, for the discipline they provide for one's everyday life. One such example of the application of Zen's philosophical principles was the organization of his former studio.
The benefit of knowledge arises only to the true traveler, not to the tourist. The traveler is an active being that carries knowledge with him: he goes to look and see, to be taught, to sympathize and to understand. A traveler by heart, after Japan, Gentile has had encounters with remote civilizations – Tibet, the high mountains of Nepal, Afghanistan, to name a few, and has lived for periods in distant lands, including with Australian aboriginal tribes – and some of the most cosmopolitan ones – Cyprus, London, and the referred Tokyo.
The circumstance that the tropical island of Bali has become his most permanent residence for about 25 years resides in the double possibility it presents: this is one of the world's most crossed-cultured places, extremely traditionalist in its singular Hindu rituals and constant colorful ceremonies, and simultaneously one of the world's most cosmopolitan atmospheres, home to various western communities. This intellectual balance, conjoined with a major presence of craftsmanship, working in international standard quality, allowed him to stay and produce vast amount of, and large artworks.
Methodology :an 'organic' practice
Pablo Gentile perceives his working method as connected to those of musicians: after learning the basic notes – drawing, geometry and the knowledge provided by Art History – one can compose a 'symphony' – paintings, sculptures and, more recently, the possibilities enabled by Computer Aided Design (CAD), which he has been exploring since the late 1990s. A believer in classical and canonized education, Gentile keeps a graphic diary in the form of sketchbooks that became the foundation of his image bank. More recently, Gentile has replaced the former paper diaries for an iPad. In addition to this gadget, he keeps a photographic record of people and situations he interacts with.
The 'organic' ingredient of his artwork thus resides outside the working methodology, rather is borne from the manner he utilizes his personal archive, vast due to several anthropological and ethnographical explorations. This system is what Gentile offers to the art scene: on the one hand, he expresses a personal synthesis of art and life and on the other hand, he delivers a constant citation of legacy – that he applies with extreme ease – and provides new directions for its usage.
Therefore, Gentile's artistic practice is many times explained as an assemblage of elements embedded with references and material citations of local specificities pertaining to the locations he arrives to.
Inspirational resources: anthropological and ethnographical research
During Early Works (1985-1998) Gentile kept a two-folded artistic practice: paintings revealed a deep interest in calligraphy – represented through automatism and spontaneous movements that can be perceived as rooted in Abstract Expressionism and street-art –, whilst his sculpture was more mental, more Dadaist in its approach – by assembling several found objects, the artist referred to aspects of everyday life.
This constant collecting of material culture from the sites he has been – papers, printed matter, scraps of cloth, bits of wood and found objects – combined with his various episodes of human contact, enable him to work as a narrator, a storyteller, whose «gift is the ability to relate his life»4 to his creation.
By fusing his Western views – which the artist admits he hasn't been able to completely escape from, despite decades living in Asia – and, by osmosis, assimilating Eastern philosophies', Gentile produced a major body of work, The Alchemy of Asia, a period which provided him comprehension of his own practice. During this narrative interval, he acted simultaneously as an observer and a storyteller.
In trying to communicate spiritual matters – the infinite, the sublime and the realm of eastern iconography – the artist inhabited the surface of his canvases with found objects, inviting the viewer to look attentively to the existing several levels of information, and creating a dialogue between the viewer and the works.
The seen and unseen appear in Sekala & Niskala (2003), a polyptych expressing the two dimensions – the tangible and the intangible – that shape the life of Balinese society in its constant rituals and in the social organization of its people. In Demons (2003) the artist had already showed interest with the subterranean forces whose power is felt in the mysticism prevalent in Balinese culture.
The artist's personal relation to the region was marked by Turbulence (2005), a painting made in response to the tragedy of the earthquake that devastated the South East Asian region in December 2004, and that was auctioned to raise money for the tsunami victims. After this series, the artist felt that his inner questioning on issues related to Asian spirituality and surroundings were answered.
Surprisingly, after this extensive 'orientalist' period – 1996 to 2003 – Gentile retells his initial stages, recites his NYC upbringings: he states that he still possesses a very strong affinity to the brush and simultaneously to the spray can, which he explores in their various possibilities. The works Study for Break and Break, both from 2004, constitute a discontinuation, the beginning of a new moment and a swing in his practice, albeit not a total interruption. Whilst he returns to his NYC urban upbringing, the outlined composition and the colors displayed make references to comic books and popular culture: graffiti, street-art and Manga, which are much-appreciated elements in contemporary art.
Between these two phases the painting Butterflies and Bombers (2005) marked the transition. The artist refers to it as 'a cleansing moment', a time for dismiss of old structures and preparation for new ones.
Since the commencement of Recent Works/Homecoming, Gentile has dedicated time into making several large scale canvases such as Hornbird and The Healer (2007), where he combined with comfort his graffiti and abstract expressionist roots, displaying a more meticulous trace coming from his calligraphic investigations.
His small-scale sculptural practice reveals the same intention: in Twisted and Jiggi-jiggi (2007), the artist attempts to present the strokes and trajectory of the hand when applying spray paint, as if it was jumping off the wall into three-dimensional space and the viewer's psyche.
Citation and assemblage as major aspects of Gentile's practice A major introduction by latest Cubism, Synthetic Cubism – a more simplified and flatter form of representation –, the inclusion of real objects on the flat plane of the canvas was felt by the artists as a more effective form of interrelating life and art, which they aimed to achieve. The result constituted a combination of 'high' art – art made by the artist –, and 'low' art – collage and found objects, normally produced outside the sphere of art. Gentile explains that his activity constitutes «something timeless that is also rooted to the moment», thus justifying his inclusions.
Fragment (1998) and Rumblefish (1999), two Cubist-like small-scaled sculptures, play with the beholder, by presenting several possible readings from different angles. The artist shows interest to this game-play with his viewer and this aspect will continuously return throughout his career.
Topeng (1999), Untitled II (2000) and Lo Tek (2002) alludes to several aspects of Indonesian ancestry – showing preoccupations regarding the disappearance and discontinuation of older forms of knowledge through modernization – whilst their organization, resembling altar-like pieces pertains to his Western iconography.
The 'Outer' artist: traditions revisited Gentile regards tradition as a logical progression; one that enables us to acknowledge what has come before us. Therefore, with perspicacity, he manipulates the wide range of traditions at his disposal, from his upbringings the ones obtained from new encounters. This conduct has led him to refer to an American tradition – ornamentation in the realm of modern architecture – using the Balinese stone relief carved mastery, a tradition kept since the 13th century wayang style from East Java, very naturalistic and extremely narrative, that was disseminated to the neighboring island of Bali. The expertise demonstrated by Gentile in this approach made possible for different types of clientele: in his portfolio figure names including Universal Studios in Orlando, USA, a luxurious resort in Fiji and private homes in USA, France and Japan, to name a few.
This public practice, attentive to the local communities, made Indonesian NGO Putri Naga Komodo Foundation invite Pablo Gentile to join The Komodo Project. Vicious (2010), a multimedia piece, expands from a video archive5 whilst working in the island to an installation resulting from casting, in real time, the feet of an actual walking dragon of Komodo.
Also in 2010, in Queensland in Australia, The Artist worked in collaboration with an aboriginal artist and delivered Untitled6, a work-in-progress included in the Aboriginal Art Project for the
Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Ministry of Monuments. This piece of Earth art constitutes a clear reference to American Land art – a movement originated in the late 1960s and that employs landscape as means of creation – and is combined with the local references that the artist gained at that time.
Pablo Gentile rejects the idea of a recipe to follow, a box to be inserted in: his lifework is an archive, a diary and constitutes an unfixed, ongoing project. His approach, rather performative, spans in=between various references and styles that he revisits and recites throughout his extensive career, intending to convey more progressive readings and approaches to earlier projects.

Most of his constructions constitute moments of revelation, self-reinvention, suggesting a journey from the psychological interior – revealed in large canvases, paper work and small- scaled sculptures – to the public space – where he finds ground to contact and interact with world's communities.
His attentive apprehension of art legacy makes him a narrator, a deliverer of several , in a coherent albeit mixed time-frame narrative, inhabited by global elements and personal stories. The inclusion of cultural symbols and histories, the interplay between traditional and modern, and of identity and space, have been key concerns for Gentile, whose life has been one of an outer-identity with his environment. In his longing to belong, Gentile has visited and recited his archive of his Western condition, NYC upbringings conjoined with his intense decades of life in the Asian continent.
Seminyak, Bali, 19th May 2012
1 Stuart Hall, «Cultural Identity and diaspora», in Colonial Discourse and Post,Colonial Theory: A Reader, ed. By P. Williams and L. Chrisman. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994, 392).
2 Homi K. Bhabha, «Ethics and aesthetics of globalism», in The Urgency of Theory, ed. by António Pinto Ribeiro. (Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2007, 7).
3 History of Sumi-e in
4 Walter Benjamin, «The Storyteller», in Illuminations. (London: Pimlico, 1999, 93).
5 The video can be found in
6 The project can be viewed in 3D in

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