Riccardo Dalisi (Potenza, 1931) moved to Naples in the 50s to pursue his studies in architecture. He immediately distinguished himself for a versatility that led him to continuously combine art, architecture and design to the point of no longer distinguishing between the sphere of action of the individual disciplines. Among the first to formulate the concept of sustainability applied to industrial design, in his sculptures and design objects Dalisi uses poor materials such as papier mâché and then tin, copper, iron, brass, which become precious through the process of craft modeling and processing. Every object, whether it is intended for industrial production or the art circuit, echoes with a personal feeling that draws on the Neapolitan tradition, in both the manner and the methods used.
In the early 70s, through his theoretical writings and workshops started with children from the underclass of the Rione Traiano, Dalisi proposed a model of participatory architecture, in which the exercise of creativity becomes the privileged instrument through which to implement social change. Madre museum’s collection includes the documentation for the project of “architecture of animation” at Rione Traiano, by which Dalisi actively involves young people in the district in the design of structures for the area, stimulating processes of cooperation and a sense of community. Together with photographs there are the artist’s models, teaching instruments intended for use in the workshops but also objects with their own aesthetic self-sufficiency.
In the same years Dalisi was among the founders of the movement of Global Tools (1973-1975): architecture and design become the radical expression of an alternative to 20th-century rationalism and monumentality, creating structures and objects made from lightweight and sometimes ephemeral materials, suggesting a biological rhythm of life. From this experience the artist arrived at ultrasimple design: “manual, simple, endowed with the contents of sincerity, authenticity and direct feeling,” as the artist wrote. The handling of these simple materials in their various forms is always accompanied by drawing, the medium in which creative freedom and design come together. In the drawings, including some examples of experiments that preceded the Rione Traiano project, Dalisi’s different souls converge: the architect and the artist, theorist and designer, the educationalist and the inventor of original forms and motifs.