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Constellations by Pietro Ruffo

For an artist, it is always a unique challenge to glean new insights from complex phenomena, such as that of human migration—an ancient, mysterious process that involves many peoples and nations and a welter of data and cultural forces.

In his project for IA&A AT HILLYER, Pietro Ruffo draws inspiration from the geographers, cartographers, and astronomers of antiquity to tackle the timeless mysteries of human movement, conflict, and assimilation. Assuming that resettlement has always been central to the survival of species—whether human or animal—the artist explores this elusive theme in a series of extraordinary works that reflect on the ancient frictions and fusions between peoples, places, and cultures of the world.

In three tapestries titled SKY WALKERS, the artist employs cut-out silhouettes of human forms to suggest an increasingly interconnected humanity, one that transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. These luminous works return us to a world before maps, to an ancestral journey that looked to the sky—the sun, stars, and the earth’s magnetic field—for its survival.

In CONSTELLATIONS—watercolor and cutouts on paper laid on canvas—Ruffo superimposes two different geographical maps, one of which (a terrestrial map) traces our nascent understanding of the contours of the physical world. By contrast, the foregrounded map (a celestial map) depicts the stars and constellations as defined by Greek astronomy and mythology. Though technically inexact from a scientific point of view, the striking accuracy and beauty of these maps suggest an ancient, immutable vision of land and sky that still resonates for us, over the centuries, as the world we know.




ON VIEW: May 3 – JUNE 30, 2019

Gallery Hours: Tue-Fri 12-6 pm, Sat-Mon 12-5 pm, and by appointment

For more info visit the upcoming exhibit page: here.

For more info about the artist visit his page here.


9 Hillyer Court NW 
Washington, DC 20008 




After studying architecture, Pietro moved to New York for a research scholarship at Columbia University. Since 2004, he has been working in his studio at Pastificio Cerere, in Rome. Ruffo’s art is essentially connected to the basic elements of his architecture education: project, paper and drawing. Every work originates from a meticulous planning and is shaped on the sheet through his delicate but sharp mark. Though, he doesn’t retain a table bi-dimensionality, since cut paper acquires the third dimension. The result is a stratified work, with multiple visual and semantic interpretations investigating the great issues of universal history, especially individual freedom and dignity, which are constantly threatened by the ongoing contemporary society homogenization. His main solo shows include: “Constelacoes Migracoes”, Centro cultural Correios, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; “L’illusion parfaite”, Galerie Italienne, Paris; “Terra Incognita”, Delhi; “Breve storia del resto del mondo”, Fondazione Puglisi Cosentino, Catania, Italy; “SPAD SVII”, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome; “The Political Gymnasium”, Blain Southern London; “A complex Istant”, Moscow, special project for the Fourth Moscow Biennale; “Irhal Irhal”, Lorcan O’Neill gallery, Rome.


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This program is part of the 7th annual European Month of Culture.

Find more events at:


  • Organizzato da: IA&A AT HILLYER
  • In collaborazione con: Italian Cultural Institute