Roberto Kusterle was born in Gorizia in 1948, where he still lives and works. His artistic career spans already to the seventies, when he started with paintings and installations. Kusterle’s oeuvre is centralized around the borders between humans and animals and humans and nature where the body is the focus point.
It was only during the nineties when Kusterle began experimenting with the medium of photography, especially photosensitive emulsions, resins, glass and natural elements to form spatial installations and photographic objects. To celebrate Kusterle’s rich oeuvre and unique vision, this year a large retrospective exhibition took place in Gorizia. The exhibition is on view in the beautiful space of the Palazzo Attems – Petzenstein until November 13. On the occasion of the exhibition, studiofaganel published a voluminous catalogue of his work – Compendium – an account of Kusterle’s artistic direction from the eighties till today.
The book functions as a detailed overview of Kusterle’s research, way of thinking and style development throughout the years. As can be observed in the book, his images are highlighted with deep dark tonality, evoking a gloomy and mournful atmosphere. Suspended in abstract time, his imagery blurs the scenes’ connection to reality. Are we witnessing Kusterle’s mental images, dreams or metaphorical representations of what has actually happened? This ambiguity felt from his work has a disorienting effect on the viewer, providing openness to interpretation.
Coming from a turbulent historical and cultural background of Gorizia, a city that was split into two parts. Its twin town, Nova Gorica was born in the same year as the artist, defining the Italy-Slovenian border. The regional territorial dispute between Italy and former Yugoslavia subsequently formed a unique conurbation. The cultural and historical context is evident in Kusterle’s work which is often connoting displacement and alienation through his cryptic aesthetics.
Charged with eroticism and symbolism, Kusterle clearly shows his mastery of staging and narration that culminated throughout the years of his practice. The body is presented both through its form and performative characteristics, often refering to ritual practices that inspired Kusterle on his travels. Repeatedly, there is also a reference to Greek mythology, in particular to Eros and Thanos. Eros, the drive of life, love, creativity and sexuality is in an interplay with Thanos, the drive of destruction, violence and death. This paradoxical juxtaposition is strongly present in Kusterle’s work where his depiction of women, earth, men, flowers, and animals goes beyond mere representation. Instead, it functions as a window to human psyche, desire, solitude and transformation. Through Kusterle’s clever use of irony, ambiguity and displacement, he invites the viewer into his creative world evoking a myriad of existential questions. Compendium, in this case, becomes a great guide through his work.
is a Gorizia-based multi-media artist. He is currently represented by studiofaganel and has extensively exhibited both locally and internationally. Apart from Compendium, he also published photobooks Echo and Cartacei, amongst others.
was founded in 2011 by Marco Faganel and Sara Occhipinti. it is a gallery, publishing house, framing lab, and book shop based in Gorizia, Italy.
Compendium is available for purchase here.