Roman de Salvo considers himself a sculptor, but to be more specific, a conceptual artist who works well with his hands. As a sculptor, conceptual and installation artist, he works with the ordinary and familiar in an infusion of surprise, intrigue, and visual poetry. He makes generic and vernacular objects into peculiar and often humorous sculptures. Employing materials normally associated with prosaic domestic construction and decoration, de Salvo fashions art and anti-art objects that continually question the meaning of things. Fireplaces made of combustible wood, electrified conduit power puzzles, home furnishings altered slightly and hilariously; all these describe a restless, curious intellect, fused with impeccable craft and technical skill.
A large part of de Salvo’s work is site-specific, often found in places of little fanfare where it announces itself with startling yet tactful poignancy. He has a knack for integrating his work well with the character of the hosting venue. These venues include the San Francisco Art Commission Gallery, inSITE’94 at the San Diego Natural History Museum, 96 Containers in Copenhagen, Caltrans District 11 Headquarters, San Diego, the Children’s Museum/Museo de los Ninos, San Diego, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego.
In the publication Roman de Salvo: Fun Follows Function from 2000, Sally Yard writes in her essay about the artist, “Flint and Follies”:
“Laying low, in the guise of one thing or another, de Salvo’s usually hybrid objects and covert interventions operate as mechanisms, deploying the physical, metaphorical and metaphysical forces that they delineate. And nestled within that deft and delicate discourse is finally the force of consciousness prevailing in complicity with the raw power of the material world, as dumb artifacts are made to become articulate exposés of the peculiar meanings of particular forms.”