The Escalator: Patrizio di Massimo, The Escalator Cycle

Project in collaboration with the students of the Albertina Academy of Fine Arts in Turin
Curated by Stella Bottai
March 15 – September 27, 2021

The Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in collaboration with the City of Rivoli unveils a new program of site-specific commissions for the public space of the risalita meccanizzata, an automated escalator system connecting the historical city center to the piazzale by the Castello. Specific areas of the pathway, closed since 2011, will be reinstated and opened to the public to view the artworks during the opening hours of the Museum.
The debut project, curated by Stella Bottai, will be by Patrizio Di Massimo (Jesi, 1983).

These paintings by Patrizio Di Massimo, realised with the Scenography students of the Albertina Academy of Fine Arts in Turin, dramatically portray the feelings associated with the exhibitionism, mystery, anger and narcissism of the contemporary world. Entitled The Escalator Cycle, they were created by the artist specifically for the spaces of the risalita meccanizzata in Rivoli. Through a series of workshops hosted by Combo in Turin, Di Massimo taught the students his painting method by involving them in all stages of production, as in an ancient artist workshop, from the photography of the characters and composition of the sketches to the actual execution. Altogether, these four large canvases offer an ironic glimpse of today’s society.

In recent years, Di Massimo’s figurative practice has focused on the relationship between painting technique and subjects. In particular, the artist reflects upon the idea of the portrait as a vehicle for the expression as well as representation of certain moods, making reference to important historical and twentieth-century painters – such as Giorgio de Chirico, Otto Dix and the German movement of the New Objectivity. Sometimes solitary, more often crowded, Di Massimo’s paintings depict characters at the height of an emotional transformation morphing them into extreme expressions of themselves, articulating paradoxical relationships between individual and collective identities. Until now, Di Massimo has only portrayed a close circle of family and friends. For this new project, the artist has for the first time involved strangers, well-known or anonymous, motivated by the desire to offer a choral representation of the local community through his work.

In The Escalator Cycle, the artist combines distinctive leitmotifs of his work – such as the inclusion of monstrous creatures and the use of soft drapes as background, which recall closed theatre curtains and at the same time evoke monochrome backdrops of ancient painting – with historical references, such as the Pazzi conspiracy leading to the killing of Giuliano de’ Medici in the 15th Century, as well as contemporary events. A panel of over fifteen meters stands out, honoring the essential workers who have kept society going during the recent lockdown caused by the COVID-19 emergency, symbolically depicting them as intrepid circus acrobats with multiple skills. Elsewhere, a group of ghosts trigger panic in the room, evoking the feeling of fear which marks the historical moment we are going through.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Director of the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, states: “This artistic intervention by Patrizio Di Massimo accomplishes a small miracle – whilst waiting for a permanent resolution, it revives a dismissed area through art by connecting our museum, which is a world excellence, with the real life of the city below. Alike a historical fresco, it narrates today’s world through fiction – fragile in the face of pandemics, but also playful, energetic and vital. It is a real risalita.

Andrea Tragaioli, Mayor of the City of Rivoli, declares “That architectural work, the mechanical escalator, never loved nor used much by the people of Rivoli, built within the hill below the Castle, will finally become – as planned by this administration – an urban social space connecting the city to the Museum of Contemporary Art, through artistic and cultural itineraries. Work will soon begin on a new system for the escalator, which will no longer be mechanical, and The Escalator Cycle represents an anticipation of the future use of this area. I also consider it timely to highlight the fruitful collaboration with the directorship of the Castello di Rivoli in a shared vision of enhancing the artistic programme, beyond the walls of the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Agreement signed between the Municipality of Rivoli and the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art for the artistic management of the escalator will be a significant act to start a new path of involvement of the territory and growth of the cultural offering.”

The Escalator Cycle by Patrizio Di Massimo is part of the Espressioni. The Proposition exhibition project on display at Castello di Rivoli.


Patrizio Di Massimo (Jesi, 1983) lives and works in London, where he earned a Master in Fine Arts at the Slade School of Art. Solo exhibitions include: Palazzo Ducale, Urbino (2019), KURA., Milan (2019), ChertLüdde, Berlin (2018), Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels (2017), Monteverdi, Pisa (2015), T293, Rome (2014), Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon (2014), Gasworks, London (2013), Villa Medici, Rome (2012).
Among the group exhibitions: ParaSite, Honk Kong (2020), Biennale Arcipelago Mediterraneo, Palermo (2019), Tale of a Tub, Rotterdam (2019), Museion, Bolzano (2018), EVA International, Limerick (2018), Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2017), CURA Basement, Rome (2016), Fiorucci Art Trust, London (2015), Triennale di Milano (2015), MUHKA, Antwerp (2014), Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin (2014), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2013), MAXXI, Rome (2012).

The project has been made possible thanks to the contribution of Regione Piemonte

In collaboration with


With the support of

The Escalator Cycle_Di Massimo