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Italian artist Carlo Proietto has been a forerunner in elevating the technique of pyrography (the art of decorating wood or leather with heated tools or flame) into a fine art form. Within his work, he uses the utmost simplicity to convey deep passions and forms of expressionism within figurative and surrealistic styles. The fiery technique he favors for etching out his designs not only results in purely original works but also lends another layer of symbology and meaning to each image. Through Proietto’s unique approach, expressionistic reflections of pain and conflict are reconfigured as a meaningful emotive visual language, both literally and figuratively, through the transformational power of fire.

Proietto’s monochromatic creations (at times offset by solitary splashes of color) are defined by his careful use of line and form within judiciously composed surrealistic scenes. Lines are clean against visually stark tableaux, lending a sense of drama to the overall effect. The artist traces his source of inspiration to contemporary music and video games, and this is reflected in the purely modern graphic elements that come to define each piece. Yet a strong energy underlies the two-dimensional look of this stylistic approach, fleshing each figural composition out in a burst of passionate expressionism.

Within his pyrographic art, Proietto is able to create an entirely new mythology reflective of the human experience within the highly urbanized, industrial context we have all come to know. In boxlike montages (a layout that mimics the modern graphic novel), we see glimpses of humans struggling with the mechanisms of the outer world. Amid the imposed order of straight lines and geometric forms, chaos and tension persist as his subjects continue an internal struggle to come to terms with the world into which they have been born.

Carlo Proietto currently lives and works in Foggia, Italy. He has published two books on pyrography as a contemporary art form.