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Buffoli’s new book on conceptual art hailed by galleries

23 June - 2023
by Alice Broeksma


By releasing a selection of his spatial concepts and designs, the Swiss-Italian artist Carmelo Buffoli has reached a new milestone in the conceptual art project titled ‘The Japanese House’. Buffoli’s new book, published this month, has already been hailed by art galleries in Switzerland and Japan. 

‘The Japanese House’ is an extensive and profound study of an imaginary journey in Japan. Five cities are visited, from south to north: Fukuoka, Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo, Sapporo. The names are real, but they are used as a decor and a metaphor, standing for the five elements in Buddhism - earth, water, air, fire and emptiness. The conceptual artwork consists of texts, sketches, drawings, images and photographs culminating in a Japanese house, a design with the potential to be built. The project invites viewers to embark on their own imaginary journey.

A real house

The new book, ‘The Diary of the Japanese House’, is a taster of more to come. At first ‘The Japanese House’ was pure fiction. Then, in his mind, Buffoli saw a real house. He started to have a clear view of what the house should look like, and what materials could be used. Over time his sketches became more detailed and realistic, the building taller, as is custom in Japan with lack of space in the overpopulated cities. The artist worked out various architectural styles, pursuing a certain flow – like a museum which functions like a normal dwelling.

Carmelo Buffoli intends to commission an architect, or a school of architecture, to design a real version of the Japanese house. The creators will be given total freedom. They are free in their choice how to implement the essence of the artist’s thoughts. This includes the dimensions, and whether they wish to apply the Buddhist elements Buffoli is interested in. The aim is to publish this part of the project in a forthcoming book.

‘Glimpse of authenticity’

Buffoli’s only requirement will be, if the house was built, it should be habitable. Not only an exhibition space for his designs illustrating his imaginary journey in Japan, but a place with a real kitchen, toilet and bathroom. A real environment, a real decor, to add ‘a glimpse of authenticity’ to his conceptual art. After all, in his art Buffoli condenses his observations in the real world. Grasping the essence of existence is his core subject. It is a constant search, using various techniques -images, illustrations, installations, video- to express his discoveries. Meticulous diary keeping is an important part of this process. The artist explains: ‘At first glance my work is graphic and minimalist, at second glance the object is separated from its environment and reduced to the essential and elementary. All my work is a simplified version of a given.’

In ‘The Japanese House’ many different elements come together. There are two versions: Carmelo Buffoli’s vision and creations, and the expected architectural design of a real house. These two versions are fused. The artist describes his vision or journey through Japan as ‘a meta-level, with the loose and overriding perspective, sketches, images and language as objects, and the development of the project itself becoming the content of the work.’ The future architectural concept will take place at the object level. The result is a mixture of object level and meta level: for Carmelo Buffoli a way to create and explore statements and perceptions.

About the artist

Carmelo Buffoli’s acclaimed work has been sold in in North America and -in Europe- in Italy, Spain, Germany and his native Switzerland. In early life, Carmelo Buffoli (1962) was introduced to the old masters, contemporary art, Arte Povera, Hieronymus Bosch, Caravaggio, Pollock. He wanted to be a photographer or a graphic designer. He briefly visited art school and acquired his skills over time. After living in Paris when he was in his twenties, Carmelo Buffoli founded his own advertising company in Zürich, Switzerland (1993). Thirteen years ago he decided to dedicate a much larger part of his time to art, an old wish. ‘Art,’ he says, ‘has always been my constant companion.’

For more information about the artist click here