Home EdizioneEd. 13 Diego Dalla Palma, precariously balanced between torment and inner peace
Diego Dalla Palma, in equilibrio precario tra tormento e pace interiore

Diego Dalla Palma, precariously balanced between torment and inner peace

by Monica Landro

Written by Monica Landro

Diego Dalla Palma, an unmistakable icon of style, an emblem of the meaning of beauty, has, like everyone else, an impervious and surprising life story, which he has told by bringing to the theatre for the first time the work “La bellezza imperfetta” (The Imperfect Beauty), which contrasts an inner self with an outer one, a perfect beauty with one that he defines as imperfect, uncomfortable.

There is a question that perhaps motivates your show: what is uncomfortable beauty?
At my advanced age, I have realised that beauty is a via crucis, along which, you arrive at beauty, which is a different story from the beauty I call ‘catchy’. The latter is a road of provocative forms, of sex, the other is an intimate path, more refined, much more lasting, sometimes eternal. Catchy beauty is that of when one is young, it is like a yoghurt and therefore expires. Uncomfortable beauty is that made of imperfections, inaccuracies, flaws that in the course of life you have to interpret, metabolise to make them your strength, your style.

So is there a difference between beauty and style?
Style is courage and courage starts with intelligence. I’m not talking about the courage to sing if you can’t sing, huh! I am talking about a very different kind of courage, a path that you want to take, where you want to win even if it is a path of fire, of pain. It is a half that you do not always get there. Sometimes you succumb.

Diego Dalla Palma, in equilibrio precario tra tormento e pace interiore

Did you cultivate this path of fire and pain?
Absolutely, and this naturally led me to eliminate fears. I still have one terrible fear that distresses me: having to depend on others. If I were to see that someone suddenly has to start feeding me because my hand is shaking and I can’t feed myself, if I were to see at some point in the gaze of others a sense of infinite pity and sorrow, then I won’t stand for it and I will do what I do in my own way. But certainly neither human beings nor religions will stop me, and I say this with extreme lucidity and without any form of depression.

I will go my own way, after having had an amazingly wonderful life, which I have made wonderful,

because all the stages of my life, some of them terribly painful, I have faced, cultivated, metabolised and accepted.

How much has this pain, which you probably carry since you were a boy, affected your creativity?
I think my creativity was affected by the coma.

Coma?
Yes, I was in a coma when I was six years old with fulminating meningitis and I was practically dead, but it was there that I realised how fascinated I was by death, which I just call ‘transfer’. The fact is that

that coma led me to a wonderfully equal vision of life and death and at the same time to art and creativity

because my mother used to tell me that before those years I never drew, but afterwards I would go and look for bits of brick and continue writing on walls and drawing mouths and eyes. So it’s easy to count, three months before I didn’t draw and afterwards I did. How come? Besides, my mother told me that for months after that coma, I did not want to see people. I would stand hours and hours on the lawn alone, sulking.

Diego Dalla Palma, in equilibrio precario tra tormento e pace interiore

Why?
Probably because I was fine in the coma condition and then I found myself in a real life.

What bothered you?
Everything around me and my mother also gave me good slaps because she was terrified of death and absolutely did not want me to talk about that coma, that death. So I, who wanted to understand, even though I was a child, isolated myself. That was all.

How did you get into such a bombastic world of aesthetics, of superficiality, of empty words with a personality like yours, so introspective, so reflective since childhood?
The reason was ambition. I had inspiration, art, creativity in my veins and I wanted to feed on that, I wanted to develop it. Add to that the fact that in the small town where I grew up I had a problem with my bisexual or homosexual nature because I developed both.

As a young boy, an excruciating torment of mine was being called a girlie by everyone in the village

and with my mother going to the market and being told, ‘Are you out looking for a bra for your son?’ There, that was the slowest pain, the drop that pushed me elsewhere, where I could show my flair.

Diego Dalla Palma, in equilibrio precario tra tormento e pace interiore

And how did you start?
I started my artistic career at Rai in Milan and Rai in Turin. I was a costume designer and then worked in the theatre as a set designer. This was for ten wonderful years because seeing my set designs, my costumes, the clothes I designed, was fulfilling in such a way that I cried, but in the end I couldn’t help my parents who had made sacrifices for me and I couldn’t buy a house, I couldn’t do anything. I said to myself, let’s open a hole in Brera, let’s go the way it should go: let’s sell perfumes. I had cosmetics in mind for the theatre, for the cinema, I had accumulated a lot of television experience in Rai. And so it all started. The fatuous part, as you say, has started. 

Your life is a balancing path between inner torment and fulfilled ambition. Do you feel a balanced man today?
No,

I don’t know what balance is and I already know that I will die tormented because torment has probably entered my DNA.

However, I must tell you that it is a fundamental seasoning in my life, because if I didn’t have it, I would probably lack something that is also part of my way of being, of dealing with art and creativity. If I didn’t have it, I would probably not be who I am, for better or for worse. Balance, honestly, I have never even wanted it, we are still on the subject of perfection that I mentioned before. I don’t even care about happiness, I care about it more.

What about serenity?
Do you know what gives me serenity? The journey.

 

The inner journey or the real journey?
Perfect question! Real, because it leads me to the inner one. And I go to places where I can find a strong and powerful, overpowering spectacle of nature or culture.

Diego, those who stop at the surface of you and only ask you to comment on the looks, the cosmetics of the moment, are missing the beauty of you. The real beauty of you…
I must tell you very sincerely that for me this is a great bitterness, in fact I have two bitternesses. The first is for the person who did not understand who I am and did not even consider inquiring about my life. The second bitterness, which is perhaps the worst, is that that person probably stops there, at appearance, at the surface… probably even of himself.


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