Alessandro Brighetti Schizophrenia

A macabre demonstration in the electromagnetic manipulation of oil-based ferrofluids


Raised in a family of doctors and formally educated as a painter, Alessandro Brighetti finds himself and his work helplessly drawn towards the fields of arts and science. Initially channeling this keen interest through works reminiscent of petri dish experiments and cellular dissections, Brighetti’s work has since evolved to include a range of chemically enhanced sculptures.

On a recent visit to Switzerland’s Scope Basel 2012 we had the pleasure of seeing two of his latest projects, “Schizophrenia” and the debut of its brain-shaped equivalent, at La Galleria OltreDimore. Using electromagnetic stimulation Brighetti commands an oil bath to move freely, spiking and laying to rest again—a mind-boggling phenomenon that instills in its viewer an unsettling feeling of curiosity and intrigue.


Brighetti creates the entirety of his projects without digital assistance, preferring physical material manipulation over a “false perfection” achieved by the likes of Photoshop. For his two new dynamic sculptures, Brighetti worked closely with a chemist to create the perfect solution of liquid alchemy. This ferrofluid, as it’s called, is a stable mixture of magnetic iron nanoparticles surrounded by an ionic surfactant dissolved in oil. The result is a magnetically charged oil that responds to powerful electromagnets while still retaining its liquid properties.

The ferrofluid is stimulated through the static skull or brain form, invisible to the viewer, to achieve an alien sense of self-propulsion. While the complex chemistry behind Brighetti’s work isn’t entirely new, we do appreciate the effort to bring applied sciences to a new audience by way of art. For more information on Brighetti visit the OltreDimore Gallery artist’s page.

Images by Josh Rubin