Artist Profile: Salvatore & Romolo Del Deo
In the East End of Provincetown, there is a dirt road that begins with a smattering of mismatched mailboxes stabbing the ground at all angles and looking as if they might tip over in the next big rainstorm. The mailboxes show no sign of the cauldron of creative art making that is bubbling at the road’s other end. The road leads to the houses and studios of two generations of Provincetown artists, Salvatore and Romolo Del Deo, father and son, respectively. Each man embodies the artistic life that is alive and well in the century-old art colony at the tip of Cape Cod.
“My father (at almost 88) says that now he is officially the oldest living artist in Provincetown,” says Romolo. “I’m part of a living tradition here.” Romolo recalls growing up in a rich environment of art and politics. “Pretty much all the adults I knew were artists, writers, political activists, musicians,” he says. “It was like this movable feast that went through our house with people coming to dinner and meetings.”
Superficially, the Del Deos could not be more different in their work. Perhaps the only formal similarity is an affinity for the human figure, a key motif in both artists’ oeuvres. However, they are of one mind when it comes to process, and their beliefs about art. They share a love of experimentation, a distrust of perfection, and a commitment to artistic integrity, regardless of commercial viability. “The last thing we think about is the commercial success of the thing,” says Sal.
Originally trained as a stone carver, Romolo creates languid, romantic, figurative sculptures in bronze. He appropriates the forms and motifs of classical sculpture and translates them into his own contemporary language. The pieces appear crumbled and broken, as if excavated from ancient Roman ruins. “I was fascinated when I was a student with archaeological digs,” says Romolo. “I liked things that weren’t perfect, that had pieces broken off. When things aren’t perfect, there is the possibility for poetry to enter in.”
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