Emilio Leofreddi

Emilio Leofreddi was born in Rome on May 23, 1958, where he lived and worked as an artist and video author. After finishing high school, in 1977, he went on his first trip to India. Upon his return to Italy he began to photograph and draw comics and cartoons published in some underground Italian magazines and newspapers (Re Nudo, A ‘Faidda di Palermo). In 1980, after six months of living with the Teates theater group in Palermo, he left for India where he rented a house on the Ganges in Banares for a year and a half and where he continued his photographic and pictorial research. In 1985, after a two-year stay in Berlin, he returned to Rome and began working as a fashion photographer and as assistant to the photographer Cristina Ghergo. At the beginning of the 90s he resumed drawing and began designing installations with videos and performances dealing with political and social issues.

His first installation Balene dates back to 1992, against whaling, sponsored by Greenpeace and financed by Mario Schifano. In 1993 he created the work Contact, against the death penalty, sponsored by Amnesty International and Hands off Caino. In 1994 he created Im-Media, an installation composed of works on canvas that evoke advertising billboards. In 1996, at Palazzo delle Esposizioni, he created Caos, a work on the absence of pietas in a historical moment of political adjustments and great violence in the world. The following year, from a derivation of Caos, he presents Mangiate Pietà, an ironic and poetic project in which the theme of Pietà (pietas) is imagined as a colonial, consumerist product, represented by a spoon with Michelangelo’s Pietà in flying into the world. Mangiate Pietà is the reflection of the unaware traveler who discovers mercy in the encounter with the people who live in the territories. In 1999 he founded the collective art studio Ice Badile Studio in Rome, together with Ivan Barlafante, Claudio Di Carlo and Andrea Orsini; in that year he exhibited his solo show Human Being at the M.O.C.A. (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Washington D.C. (USA).

In 2001 he presented the solo exhibition: Non calpestate le aiuole utopiche at the CampusGalerie of the University of Bayreuth (Germany) and in 2003 at the Mary Ogilvie Gallery, St. Anne’s College, Oxford University (Oxford, UK). In 2004 he began working on the journey as a work of art and on the travel diary to be created on Tibetan carpets and Indian tents. The Dreams project comes into shape which will bring him back to India after many years. The dimension of travel and the meeting between East and West are at the center of this project. The works will be presented at the Galleria Santo Ficara in Florence and also exhibited at Art Basel Miami (USA) and in 2007 at the Cairo Biennial (Egypt), where he received the Critics’ Award. In 2009 he exhibited a solo exhibition entitled Il respiro del mondo at the Vittoriano in Rome, curated by Galleria La Nuvola, made with Indian tents sewn in Goa (India). The choice of this type of tent as an artistic medium is due to its identity as a poor material, the tent is also perceived as a synonymous of movement, refuge and community.

In 2012, with the Land-E-Scape project, he gave continuity to the theme of dreaming and travel, approached as an immersion in the fantastic world of the sky. Inspired by the skies of the painter William Turner and the tightrope feats of Philippe Petit, Leofreddi paints the tension between the aspiration of going upwards and the fear of falling into the abyss of the cruelest reality. “I feel like that tightrope walker”, he often said in his last period of life, always poised in the desire to reach the sky, merge with infinity and its clouds of music and colours, but with the fear of sinking in the chaos of a delirious system. In 2014, on the occasion of the Nomadelica exhibition at Palazzo Collicola in Spoleto, he published the book Disegni edited by Gianluca Marziani. In 2015, the solo show Gea Mondi Colori was inaugurated at the Galleria SMAC (Segni Mutanti Arte Contemporanea) . The world is colored with tensions of dream and desire, for a series of works that mark the artist’s return to the purest painting. In 2016 he created the logo and poster for the city of Aarhus (Denmark) “European City of Culture 2017”. Also in 2016 he was invited to the International Art Festival “Encounters 2016 – Bori Bunder Platform 8” which took place at the CTS Terminus (formerly Victoria Sation) in Mumbai (India). In 2018 he works on a new project entitled the Economia del Nulla. Numerous personal and collective exhibitions have led him to exhibit in Italy and abroad, including England, the United States, Germany, India and China. Some of his video works have participated in film festivals and video art exhibitions. Emilio Leofreddi passed away in Rome on 22 July 2023. His work was presented at the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, Florence and Rome. His works are part of public and private collections, both national and international.


Most Recent Solo Show: 

Mix’n Progress, Studio G, Roma – 2022; Cambio di valuta, Galleria Edieuropa, Roma – 2020; Gea, Galleria Segni Mutanti (SMAC), Roma – 2017; Emilio Leofreddi – Remix, Museo del Castello di Mola, Castelmola (Catania) – 2015; Nomadelica, Palazzo Collicola, Spoleto – 2014; Emilio Leofreddi – Play with care, Sala Santa Rita, Roma – 2013; Emilio Leofreddi – Dreams (diario di viaggio), NN Gallery, Taormina – 2013; Land-e-scape, Galleria Fontanella Borghese, Roma – 2012; Stalin non trovò lavoro in Italia, Atelier dell’Arco Amoroso, Ancona – 2011; Il respiro del mondo, Galleria La Nuvola, Roma – 2009; Il respiro del mondo, Complesso del Vittoriano, Roma – 2009; Dreams (diario di viaggio) Gallery of Art Temple University, Roma – 2008; Dreams (diario di viaggio) – opere su carta – Galleria Segni Mutanti (SMAC), Roma – 2008; Dreams (diario di viaggio) Galleria ArtexArte (Incontri Internazionali d’Arte), Napoli – 2007; 10.ma Biennale del Cairo (Premio della Giuria Internazionale per l’installazione “Dreams”), Il Cairo (Egitto) – 2007; Dreams (diario di viaggio), Premio Chatwin, Palazzo Ducale, Genova – 2006; Dreams (diario di viaggio), Galleria Santo Ficara, Firenze – 2006.


Most recent Collective Exhibition: 

AB INITIO – Istituto Nazionale di Studi Romani, Roma – 2024; Rievolution – Palazzo della Cultura, Catania – 2023; Open Box 2 – L’arte contemporanea nei giardini dell’Aventino, Roma – 2022; Meccanismi dell’arte – Arte nello spazio pubblico, EmergenceFestival, Montalbano Alicona (Messina) – 2021; Confronti d’Arte, Museo Civico di Villa Colloredo Mels, Recanati (Macerata) – 2021; Além 2020. Arte italiana na pandemia, MAC Museu de Arte Contemporanea, San Paolo (Brasile) – 2021; Io e Me, Galleria Sala 1, Roma – 2021; BOOM! Dal fumetto americano al Neopop, Palazzo Valle, Catania – 2019; Avanguardie discrete, Museo Arte Moderna Vittoria Colonna, Pescara – 2019; Essere-Non essere vittime civili, Museo delle Civiltà, Roma – 2019; MACRO Asilo #Atelier 2 gennaio, MACRO, Roma – 2019; Elementi cartacei, Polo Culturale Fondazione Carivit, Viterbo – 2018; Encounters 2016 – Bori Bunder Platform 8, CST Terminus, Mumbai (India) – 2016; Encounters 2016, JJ College of Art, Mumbai (India) – 2016; Encounters 2016, ICIA Gallery, Mumbai (India) – 2016; Kontakty, Castello di Bratislava, Bratislava (Rep. Ceka) – 2016; Non amo che le rose che non colsi, Galleria RICHTER Fine Art, Roma – 2016; Tridente, Chiesa S. Michele Arcangelo, Sermoneta (LT) – 2016; Curb Your Sensation, Villa Argiro, Bari – 2016; Made in Warhol, Palazzo Corvaja, Taormina – 2015; Emilio Leofreddi / Dan.rec. – Leggenda Rossa, Galleria La Nuvola, Roma – 2015; CloseUp, Palazzo Collicola, Spoleto – 2015; Studi d’Artista – ArtGarage (video), GNAM Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Roma – 2015; CampusGalerie 2000 bis 2015, CampusGalerie, Bayreuth (Germania) – 2015; NN, NNGallery, Taormina – 2012; Emilio Leofreddi / Patrizia Molinari – In equilibrio, Bibliothè Contemporary Art Gallery, Roma – 2012; Rossmut, Galleria Rossmut, Roma – 2012; Rosa Rosae, Studio S, Roma – 2012; C’era una volta, MACRO, Roma – 2012; ArtWiki – 7th Berlin Biennale, Berlino – 2012; Caricoascarico (Bucchi, Leofreddi, Tamburro), Torre Vignazza, Giardini Naxos (Taormina) – 2011; L’ artista come Rishi, Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale ‘Giuseppe Tucci’, Roma – 2011; Casa di bambola, Galleria SMAC, Roma – 2011; Señales Rojas, Istituto Italo Latino-Americano, Roma – 2011.


Filmography selection:

Corrispondenze dall’India di Leofreddi e P. Brunatto – Art News di RAI Educational – 2007; Dreams (diario di viaggio) di Leofreddi – ArtNews di RAI Educational – 2006; Videodiario dal Cairo di Leofreddi – ArtNews di RAI Educational – 2007; Im -Media di Leofreddi – 1994; Contact di Leofreddi – 1994 (Im – Media e Contact sono stati acquisiti dall’Archivio Video del Palazzo delle Esposizioni di Roma); Ciao Emilio di P. Brunatto (documentario acquisito dall’Archivio Video del Palazzo delle Esposizioni di Roma) – 1994.