Raffaele Salvoldi’s Living Art: A Symphony of Wood and Imagination

During the chilly days of January 2021, Italy was submerged in the throes of its second Covid-19 lockdown. Streets were quieter than usual, and many, including creative professionals, were confined to their homes. In this unexpected hiatus, Raffaele Salvoldi, a renowned photographer and director, found his creative path diverging.

Facing an unforeseen pause in his bustling career, Salvoldi candidly shared, “That was an especially challenging period. My usual assignments were on hold, and suddenly, I had this abundance of free time.” Instead of being lost in the void of inactivity, he channeled his energy into creating. Drawing from memories of youth, he revisited a cherished childhood pastime: the joy of playing with and assembling wooden blocks.

KAPLA planks became the foundation of Salvoldi's new artistic venture. These unique wooden pieces have their origin in the ingenuity of a Dutch antique dealer from the late 1960s. Unlike the conventional, chunky building blocks, KAPLA planks offer a slimmer design, making them perfect for constructing elongated or horizontal structures such as lintels and roofs. Salvoldi began his journey with a modest set of 1,000 of these innovative wooden bricks. However, as his collection grew by the thousands, his architectural expressions became more intricate and expansive.

From the flatness of a room's floor, majestic creations would arise. Spiraling columns reminiscent of ancient architectures, delicate towers echoing the finesse of Gothic cathedrals, and airy apertures that seemed to capture fragments of the sky were birthed from Salvoldi's imagination. Intriguingly, many of these structures were internally illuminated, casting enchanting shadows and revealing dramatic effects in vast spaces. They weren't just standalone installations; they conversed with their surroundings. One remarkable setting was the historic, neoclassical Casa Bossi. Salvoldi playfully remarked on his limitless architectural fantasies, “The only constraints I face are those set by my imagination and, naturally, the law of gravity.”

a man standing in front of a building

Crafting such monumental installations isn’t an overnight endeavor. Depending on their complexity, Salvoldi’s works can take anywhere from three weeks to an impressive four months to complete. In a break from traditional gallery norms, Salvoldi often begins a show with the installation still in progress. Visitors aren't just passive observers; they witness the evolution of the piece in real-time. Salvoldi believes this interactive approach transforms art viewing from mere observation to a rich, immersive experience. “For me, it isn’t just a static display or a fleeting performance. It's an intimate glimpse into an artist's journey,” he reflects. “I perceive it as a dynamic, evolving space—an atelier that welcomes people to witness the art's metamorphosis, day after day, week after week.”

The ephemeral nature of these installations is highlighted at the show's culmination. Instead of preserving the pieces, attendees are invited to participate in their deconstruction. They can hurl additional KAPLA planks, triggering a cascading collapse, or watch as Salvoldi meticulously orchestrates a domino-like sequence, toppling the structure from its base.

For those keen on diving deeper into Raffaele Salvoldi's world, his vivid and detailed chronicles are accessible on Instagram. Additionally, a comprehensive overview of the 'Wood Arc' project, alongside other endeavors, can be found on his official website. Salvoldi’s journey is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the boundless realms of creativity, even in the most trying times.

a close up of a stone building
the inside of a building
a person standing in front of a building