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Italian sculptors Antonello Serra and Sara Renzetti breathe life into visions of humanity you dare not dream.

If David Cronenberg had chosen sculpture instead of film, he might have created something akin to Antonello Serra and Sara Renzetti‘s work: surreal humanoid creatures, people encased in Damien Hirst-like tanks, and amorphous blobs of flesh, amongst other fantastical oddities and curiosities. Serra and Renzetti’s work also includes their brand of figurative portraits—both sculptural and flat 3D works—veiled in frosted glass. To say these sculptures are otherworldly and often grotesque is an understatement. They look like an exhibition of film art culled from cinema’s sci-fi props and set design.

In Natural History Ambra N°3, a silicone sculpture embedded in a resin case, the artists imagine a mutant baby, with a twin growing in place of genitalia. In Migrants and Mentalese / Atto III, Serra and Renzetti—who go by the collective name Santissimi—create humanoid creatures with heads resting, rather birdlike, on shoulders and arms. Mentalese / Atto I (Le vertigini) features two mutant heads growing out of a human leg at the knee joint. A woman, her body dissected into four parts encased in resin, lies in the fetal position facing the ground in Horror Vacui. These works and Santissimi’s many others are certainly disturbing, but they are also incredibly beautiful.

‘Natural History Ambra N°3.’

Neither Serra nor Renzetti have a background in sculpture. Renzetti studied painting at Florence’s Academy of Fine Arts, while Serra studied architecture at the University of Architecture, also in Florence. Renzetti says it wasn’t originally a conscious decision to work together. “It all started very spontaneously,” she tells Creators. “Ideas are navigated from one thought to another and the fact of being two allows multiple reflections.”

The two artists work out of a studio at an archaeological site in Barumini in southern Sardinia. Serra says that working in such a small but historical town provides the luxury of isolation, freeing them from interaction with contemporary art.

‘Natural History Ambra N°6’

The first piece piece Santissimi collaborated on, in 2009, was Settimo Cielo (Seventh Heaven), a sculpture depicting a man inside a hyperbaric chamber. “He relates to the outside world by asking to breathe in the atmosphere,” says Renzetti. The piece “talks about the relationship between the inner world and the outside world… We created a mechanism that allows the sculpture to breathe, moving all the muscles of the back and showing that indispensable union with the environment that allows us to breathe, and thus to live.”

After Settimo Cielo, Serra and Renzetti created Anima Mundi, a series of human and animal fetuses immersed in Vaseline that, according to Renzetti, tells the union of all living beings, without man having primacy over other creatures. From there, they created a series of works embedded in resin called Natural History, which imagines human fossils and other future archaeological finds.

‘Horror Vacui’

More recent works, like Migrants (Ovis) and Epave are freed from resin and technological shackles. Renzetti says these sculptures are free to breathe our air, become transfigured, and “overcome the human race.” In their latest pieces, Mom and Io cosima mi dichiaro marito e moglie, Serra and Renzetti abandon the human form, creating fleshy sculptures suspended from the ceiling by rope.

Antonello says the two start with a vision, creating a relationship and “sensory contact” with the images. “The final sculpture never corresponds to what we [originally] saw: the work always surpasses the imagination,” says Antonello. “Usually we use clay or plasticine to create the sculpture. From there we take the mold, usually an epoxy resin or gypsum, from which we obtain the positive in platinum silicone reinforced usually with fiberglass. We have also used polystyrene and sculpted silicone directly on it.”

‘Epave’

“We are sorry when our works are perceived simply for what the end result shows, like bizarre, diabolical and futuristic, because [to us] they are poetic, silent and helpless, suspended and unexpected… possible figures of excess,” says Renzetti. “But these are our optics and art is free from our imaginations.”

‘Io cosima mi dichiaro marito e moglie’

‘Natural History Ambra N°1’

‘Ovis’ from ‘Migrants’ series

Click here to see more work by Santissimi.

Via Creators

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