Ask the artist: Giorgio Riva

Today, for the Ask the artist column, we have the pleasure of hosting the young Lombard artist Giorgio Riva, born in 1975, who has been participating in the Contemporary Italian Art in Netherlands project since August 2020 with his symbolic and decorative works: I met him three years ago during an art fair in the Bergamo area, and the Italian artist immediately aroused my critical curiosity for his elegant and introverted style, which conveys a refined inner calm and fully reflects the emotional personality of the painter himself. After years of experimenting with different techniques, from pastel to spray cans, from Indian ink to oil paint, Giorgio Riva has achieved his own personal style thanks to a mix of techniques superimposed on different levels that always use wood as a base, a living material that stimulates the interpretation of the human figure in a dreamlike and transcendental version reminiscent of Art Nouveau (1890-1910). In his works, spaces are suspended in time and convey calm and harmony thanks to colour; within these, the symbolic and decorative figure is defined by chiaroscuro structured by small reworked graphic eyelets that symbolise harmony, formal beauty, introspection and personal privacy. Giorgio Riva’s artistic poetics are already known among collectors in northern Italy and America where Art Deco remained in vogue until the 1940s. The artist is now present on Dutch territory in the Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde.

But the time has come to get to know Giorgio Riva better:

Tell us about your art. How and when were you reborn as an artist?

Let’s say that I have always felt like an artist, my dream as a child was to become a painter, I have always drawn out of necessity, in adolescence it was a way of expressing anger, fear, the anguish of growing up, the drawings of that period were made on white cardboard using black India ink and were quite dramatic. In adulthood it was, and is, a way to express my emotions and give meaning to my life: the figures I paint are no longer dramatic but represent in their calm and peace, a sort of psycho-physical balance that I believe I have achieved. Over time, I have searched for new expressions and new expressive techniques, moving from wax crayons to spray cans and oil painting until, almost by chance, I arrived at the mix of techniques that I still use today, which consists of superimposing acrylic colours and coloured pastels on a wooden board treated with very diluted acrylic colours.

Most of your panels feature beautiful female figures with closed or half-open eyes, why is that? Who inspires you: do you have an inspirational muse?

The women I paint often have their eyes closed because I like to capture them in moments of peace and inner calm. In addition to closed eyes, I also like to convey the concepts of calm and grace through the gestures of my hands and the floating movements of my hair. There is no real inspirational muse, let’s just say that what inspires me is an idealised beauty, and the female figure is in my opinion the ultimate expression.

In your works, time stands still and you enter a state of calm and transcendence. Does artist Giorgio Riva also follow this philosophy in real life?

I am certainly a calm and quiet person in everyday life, but when I paint I am even more so, it is as if I enter a creative bubble and isolate myself from the world. My favourite time to paint is in the evening when everything around me is calm and quiet.

How do you choose the right wood panels? What does it mean to use this natural material?

For my paintings, the wooden support is fundamental, wood is a material that I love and that I know very well. I usually use birch or poplar plywood panels. When I prepare a board, I carefully choose which grain to insert in the background of my paintings, this allows me to exploit what nature has created, to give movement and pathos to my paintings.

What do you see in the near future? Do you have any projects in the drawer?

In the near future, I dream of organising an exhibition in a magical location which, together with my paintings, will transport the visitor into a timeless, dreamlike atmosphere. I would love to exhibit in Berlin and Dublin, two cities that I love very much.

I sincerely thank Giorgio Riva for the time he has dedicated to us and for the trust he places in the project. I would like to remind readers that they can visit the page dedicated to the artist online at http://www.criticoarte.org (Giorgio Riva – Italian art by ELisa Manzoni (criticoarte.org)), or come and view his works directly in the gallery by making an appointment and sending an email to elisavosmanzoni@gmail.com.

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