Ask the artist: Giulio Pettinato

For the “Ask the artist” column, today we have the opportunity to chat with Giulio Pettinato, born in Calabria but now permanently based in Castel Gandolfo in Rome. Scenographer, painter, designer and graphic artist, the artist uses different art forms such as installations, painting and sculpture, using the most disparate materials such as fabric, plastic, polystyrene, sand, wood, marble and LED lamps to give new life to light and colour. His artworks are eclectic, investigate nature at 360°, and create a modern scenographic vision of reality: thanks to his continuous expressive research free from academic canons, Giulio Pettinato is now known both in Italy and abroad with his marine sculptural paintings and LightArt works.
In addition to the sixty solo exhibitions, it is interesting to highlight Giulio Pettinato’s presence at three editions of the Festival dei due Mondi in Spoleto and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where his works were the set design for Connessioni Mediterranee, a work by the Greek composer Niko Filathos, performed by the Microcosmos Ensemble. The artist has also designed the sets for I cantori di Brema by Gaetano Panariello at the Teatro Rendano in Cosenza and La luce del mondo by Mauro Piacenza, a work produced by the Foundation for the artistic heritage and activities of the Church in the Vatican. Finally, he has been working for years on the set design for the Nativity Scene in the Crypt of the Pontifical Church of St. Thomas of Villanova in Castel Gandolfo.

et us now turn to the body of the interview:

Your artistic production is varied and ranges from LightArt to mixed media painting with the sea as a subject: why these different artistic choices and, above all, do you have a preferred art form? What is your inspiration? Is there any artist from the past that you find more in line with your stylistic research?

Light Art is a form of visual art in which the medium of expression, the purpose of the work, is light. The inspiration comes from my experience as a set designer, which I put to good use in this genre by continuing to create with various materials, which overlap to create the desired three-dimensionality. The sea is the mirror of my soul, the place where I was born; I still mentally preserve the colours, the source of my inspiration. Returning to your initial question, my choices are only “apparently” different, in reality they are always linked by a common thread: set design.

When, how and why was your LightArt created? Tell us how you create your works in which light is the medium for sculpting your installations, most of which have female silhouettes as their subject.

Light Art was born in 2014 out of the need to refine, to expand, my scenographic research. These works, such as Bonsoir madame and Nude radici, are my authentic creations, they are the ones in which I study light through the beauty of the female body. Light is the means to enjoy an elegant painting, in tune with the three-dimensionality of the female body. ((4) LIGHT ART | Facebook)

As for your mixed media works that are reminiscent of an informal material: what materials do you prefer to use to recreate the sea, and why? How do you give tactility to your works? What sensations do these materials give you and what do you imagine the observer will feel when he studies your works?

I almost always prefer to use natural materials, always carrying a bag of sand from my sea, which I try to transfer skilfully onto my canvases. I often imagine that the observer perceives everything that I convey through my work.

As well as being Artistic Director of the Castel Gandolfo Art Centre in Rome, in April you founded the Oltremare International Group, an international art group embracing all the arts: tell us about your idea, your goals, and future plans.

The Castel Gandolfo Art Centre was born in April 2013 from the idea of spreading the arts in a single environment, where ideas could be shared. Club Bluoltremare, on the other hand, was born in a particular moment of our history. Finding ourselves suddenly and forcibly closed, we opened up to other types of reality, bringing our ‘brand’ to an international dimension. Today Club Bluoltremare boasts prestigious collaborations with artists from all over the world. (If you are interested in joining Club Bluoltremare, here is the link: (4) club BLUOLTREMARE | Facebook ; the Castel Gandolfo Art Centre: (5) Centro ARTE | Facebook )

What has this last terrible year represented for you and your art, where all certainties have changed perspectives and visions?

2020 was a really terrible year. It wiped out our exhibitions, our contacts, our energy … but I am convinced that it is still worth trying to do something positive for art. In spite of everything, at least in my experience, when you are forced to limit your contacts, when everything seems to stagnate and depression is around the corner, something creative always emerges, with its vital force.

In this very delicate moment in history, full of uncertainties, I would like to highlight the brilliant idea of Giulio Pettinato who, unable to inaugurate the international group exhibition Pigmenti (15-22 December 2020 at the Sala Nagasawa in the Appia Antica park in Rome) due to the restrictions established to contain the Covid-19, has decided to stage it anyway in a micro version in the smallest gallery in the world (150×45 cm.). Since January 2021, the micro-gallery has been hosting several solo shows by artists from all over the world: for more information and to participate in events in the micro-gallery, write to me at elisavosmanzoni@gmail.com or artecastelgandolfo@libero.it.

With heartfelt thanks to Giulio Pettinato for his precious time, I would like to remind you that his works are on sale in the Netherlands and you can see them on the website: Giulio Pettinato – Italian art by ELisa Manzoni (criticoarte.org)

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