This experience brought De Luca to the attention of one of the most important Italian scholars of international graffiti, the late Francesca Alinovi, and to a familiarization with the city of Bologna and the Emilia Romagna region in general. Due to his growing interest in various visual and written languages of communication, De Luca met with Rosanna Chiessi of Reggio Emilia, publisher of visual poetry and curator of the most important international bodyartists, some of whom he had wound up collaborating with. At this point, De Luca designed costumes for the theater piece “Invisible Painting” by Corrado Costa, which was performed in 1986 at the Teatro dell’Orologio in Reggio Emilia. He also arranged the music for the video “The Seven Mattresses of New York” by Giuseppe Desiato and directed Desiato’s film “The Bride of Stromboli.” Also in 1986, the owner of the Studio Oggetto of Caserta and Milan, Massimo De Simone, asked him to present his work in various international exhibitions including, “ART LONDON” in London e “ARCO MADRID” in Spain. In 1987 his work attracted the attention of various curators and cultural critics such as Mercè Alsina Jodar, the director of the gallery ATUAL of Barcelona, where De Luca presented a project entitled “Controbando” under the curation of Louis Francisco Perez. He was invited to present a new private project at the Pascal Lucas gallery in Valencia and to take part in various collective shows in other galleries such as “Fuochi d’Italia” at the Ferran gallery of Palma de Majorca and the exhibit “Cave Canem” at the gallery La Maquina Espaniola of Madrid. Thus he gained the attention of the young, militant, international critics, including the Italian circle, who were full of praise for his work: Gloria Picazo in the magazine Cimal Internacional (Valencia), Concha in the magazine Lapis di (Madrid), Maria Teresa Blanch in an interview for Juliet (Italy), the cover of SEGNO (Italy), Enzo Battarra’s young art in Naples, and an invitation from the editorial board of Flash Art (Italy) to the exhibit, “Italia 90,” which took place at the Fabbrica del Vapore (Milano).
From the 1990s forward, De Luca’s work became an object of analysis for the majority of art critics and more attentive gallery owners, including Franz Paludetto, who gave him a private show within the larger project “Autumnal Equinox,” which took place at the newly-restored Castello di Rivara (Torino), and the critic Edoardo di Mauro, who presented a private show at the V.S.V. gallery of Torino, and later several other collective shows, including “Va pensiero” at the Promotrice Belle Arti of Torino. The critic-editor of the magazine “Juliet, Roberto Vidali, offered him a private show at the Juliet Room Gallery and later published one of the artist’s analytical texts, “Give me the temple before I die of fame,” and printed his art on the cover. De Luca was also involved in the projects of musicians Steve Lacei and Andrea Centazzo.
At the beginning of the 1990s, De Luca presented a private show entitled “Mezzogiorno” at the Studio Critofori gallery in Bologna, an exhibit that garnered further acclaim from critics and gallery owners, including Ruggerini & Zonca in Milan, where in the following year he presented the show “Materiale Metareale.” In that same year, the critic-editor of the magazine Tema Celeste published his text “Fantastico metalogico,” offering him four pages in the magazine and inviting to the exhibit “Eroticism in Italian Art” in Cologne at the Gebaude Kunst.
One year later, in 1994, De Luca finally had a private show, “Hatu per tu,” in the city of his birth, at the historic Dina Carola gallery in Naples. De Luca stayed in Naples, but continues to satisfy his desire to confront other cultural realities and foreign galleries, including American, continue to have interest in his work. Gallery owner Giordano Raffaelli introduced him to the Trento scene with the exhibit “Divisbileinvisibile.” This was in 1995, the year in which De Luca’s work gained institutional recognition with an invitation to participate in the Rome Quadriennale and in the exhibit “Luoghi” curated by Alberto Fiz at the Museo di Stato of San Marino. Also in 1995, the magazine Flash Art dedicated a three-page interview to De Luca, conducted by Helena Kontova, as well as offering him a place in the inaugural exhibition “Medialismo” at the Flash Art Museum of Trevi, curated by Gabriele Perretta. In 1996, the Galleria d’Arte Moderna of Bologna presented two different projects comprised of works from the 1990s: “Icastica,” first curated by Perretta, then by Renato Barilli, which confirmed the historical interest of De Luca’s art, and “Officina Italia,2 which took place in different venues in Emilia Romagna.
In 1998, American interest in De Luca concretized in an exhibit at the Annina Nosei gallery in New York City. The private show, “Spirit & Material Speculation,” inspired critical consensus among New York critics such as Roberta Smith, who wrote, “This is the most enjoyable exhibit seen in New York in recent years” (The New York Times, 30 November 1998). Curators Sandro Grandmarchand and Paulette Gagnon of the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art invited him to exhibit his work in the great end of the century exhibit, “Oeuvre of Impertinence,” and the Van de Griffe Gallery din Santa Fe presented a private show in 1999 called “Madame Splatter Fly” in the aftermath of the New York show. More offers came pouring in and the desire to remain in New York grew, but De Luca wanted first to honor prior commitments at Italian galleries, including Zonca & Zonca in Milan, where at the end of 1999 he presented the show “Investire in Titoli.” De Luca planned to return to New York directly after this show, but the events of September 11, 2001 made him rethink his idea. Since that tragic event, most socio-economic, artistic, cultural events projects were interrupted, and 50 percent of New York’s galleries, including Annina Nosei, had to close.
Since 2001, De Luca has produced the large work on lenticular film, “La grande liquidazione,” for Achille Bonito Oliva and the permanent museum of the Naples Metro; the large project “Speculare sulla liquidazione” for Valerio Deho and the Scientific Library of Dubrovnik; and the great map “Il sette è bello” for Hisham al Madhloum and the Sharjah Art Museum in the Emirates.
In addition, the two exhibitions of historical relevance, which took place at the famous “Gallery Seno “in Milan, the first one titled “PermanentPresent” of 2010 prepared in conjunction with an awesome text written by a famous theoretical and contemporary art critic Renato Barilli, in which he highlights the historical importance of its pictorial language that appears new to the typical Italian tradition. The author also recognizes the ability of its produced images in order to compete and to hold the confrontation with the huge universe of images produced by the “media” system. (“…for this reason Santolo De Luca occupies the main position of a group of Italian artists named “Medialismo…”) Renato Barilli – Italian contemporary Art – Feltrinelli – 2006).
The second exhibition at the Gallery “Seno” of 2018, emblematic ally titled “Campare Sodo”, arranged by the art critic Alice Rubini, known as the editorial director of an important online contemporary art newspaper AArtic, who invited Santolo De Luca to take part in the exhibition in Athens in 2014, which took place at the” Benaky” Museum, titled “Siamo tutti Greci”. It was essential to point out in the introduction of the critic text of “Campare Sodo” exhibition, that “Medialismo” of the 90s, theorized by the critic Gabriele Perretta, and based on two language expressions: analytical, composed by the artist Maurizio Catellan, and pictorial directed by Santolo De Luca. In the end, his viewers have learned to recognize also the value of his written language and that’s why his editorial projects appear to be different, therefore, you should read the “To design the colour” produced in 2015 at the B.I.I.M. in Helsinki. The art book is composed of 28 serigraph, in 50 examples, “Fast Foot & Shoes” completed with the cooperation of the famous Egyptian racla teacher, Fakhry Mahmoud Hassan Laila, in 2003 for the editions Il “Laboratorio di Napoli”, and in addition the art book, “Il Disegno di Legge” produced by the editor Fabrizio Fabbri (Perugia), as the essay made of chapters that talk about the 90s, “La paura fa 90” published periodically since 2017 in the contemporary art newspaper “AArtic”.
De Luca also conducts seminars on aesthetics and communication in various Italian universities including The University of Genova Architecture Department, The University of Catania, the University Federico II of Naples Department of Letters and Philosophy, the Italian Institute of Philosophical Studies of Naples, and the European Institute of Design in Milan and Naples. De Luca also collaborates with the television stations Endemol and Sky.