It has been a while since the last interview in the “Ask to the artist” column, which aimed to investigate in detail the secrets of the artists participating in the Italian Contemporary Art in the Netherlands project, supported by the neo Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde. At the end of July, we had the pleasure of getting to know a little more about the artistic poetics of the young visual artist Ilaria Sperotto from Vicenza, but, as I had announced from the outset, the project is expanding and opening its doors to Dutch artists to create a constructive and proactive artistic and cultural dialogue between Italy and Netherlands.
With great pride, today I would like to introduce to you the first Dutch artist who has accepted the “challenge”: Rob Koedijk from Assen. What thrilled me about Rob Koedijk’s art is his conception of colour, which he enhances to the nth degree in two totally different media, which achieve a completely dissimilar end result. The first medium used is large and very large canvas in which colour comes to life in enormous backgrounds in addition to various tactile materials, giving rise to works with an abstract-informal material flavour. The second medium used by the Assen-based artist is glass in which, although colour is always the dominant element, the application on such a different medium results in an abstract-informal poetic sign in which the observer can play with his imagination and discover images from his own memory and contrasting emotional sensations.
The Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde is pleased to host some works on glass, epoxy resin and fusion by the artist Rob Koedijk; fine works in different formats and prices that have the capacity to amaze for the high technical quality executed.
Let’s finally move on to the questions to Rob Koedijk:
You are an artist with a profound artistic culture, but where does your passion for abstract art and material informalism come from? What does abstraction mean to you?
For me, abstract art is the expression of my own self and my own feelings through colour. The shape and the brushstrokes I put on the canvas are initially secondary to the feelings I am experiencing at that moment. But as my work progresses, the colours and the way they flow into each other become an essential part of the process. While painting, a painting emerges unnoticed because I give my thoughts and feelings all the space they need at that moment. My work is a way of designing that can be ‘read’ by anyone with an open mind and to which everyone can and may give their own interpretation. Form in general is very important to me. However, in abstracting it by means of colour and materials, I can better express myself.
How did your life change after you learned about art through media and colour?
During my studies at the A.K.I. (Academy of Art and Industry), it was mainly the subjects of Architecture, Fashion, Graphic Design and Colour Techniques that I followed with enthusiasm. During my studies, it became clear to me that what I learned there would become an important facet of my life.
Can you tell the readers something about your creative process, from start to finish? Where do you get your inspiration from until you walk away from the work and say “well, now it’s finished”.
I start by choosing the materials with which I want to make the painting, the colours and the size of the canvas. Subsequently, the thoughts and feelings that enter me at that moment, give rise to spontaneous, uninhibited, and random brushstrokes on the canvas with the corresponding colour spectrum. The complete surrender to my feelings and the freedom with which I can fill the canvas myself evolves from an idea to a finished work. If my work gives me satisfaction after completion, then it is “finished”. If not, I let it rest for a while and start again.
Although you always follow your personal abstract artistic poetics, you execute your works on two totally different supports, canvas, and glass: why these choices? Tell us more about your technique.
Working with multiple materials and supports is a challenge for me. It turns out that my own ‘handwriting’ also changes somewhat through this use. Working on canvas with coarse brushes, for example, can produce a quick result, while applying paint to glass with a palette knife shows completely different. Paint on glass with a palette knife shows completely different structures. Working in this way stimulates my creativity, also because the final result is often surprising and very different.
Do you believe that abstract art can be the key to changing people’s minds and improving the world today?
For the viewer, looking at abstract art and empathising with the use of colour, form and composition of a work can provide a moment of peace. Through his own interpretation, the spectator can briefly detach his thoughts from the reality of everyday life and see the relativity of things. I hope that I can contribute to this with my work.
Thank you very much for the time Rob Koedijk has reserved for our readers. For any information I am at your disposal. I invite you to the gallery to enjoy Rob Koedijk’s artistic poetics or to visit his page on https://criticoarte.org/dutch-paintings/rob-koedijk/.
The artist also gives you the opportunity to see other works in his Atelier.
Saturday 28 August 2021 you are all invited to the Art in the Garden exhibition at the Manzoni Kunst Galerie, from 11am to 5pm! The gallery will be officially inaugurated and we will celebrate the artists participating in the project Contemporary Italian Art in the Netherlands and the new entry Rob Koedijk, a Dutch artist from Assen who has enthusiastically accepted the idea of making the two artistic cultures dialogue. We are waiting for you to drink a coffee, a tea or a glass of wine and talk a bit about Art!
Art in the Garden
Saturday 28 August 2021
Manzoni Kunst Galerie
Snellingerdijk 122, 8431 ES Oosterwolde, Netherlands
from 11am to 5 pm
Marina De Carlo
Noteer de datum in uw agenda!
Zaterdag 28 augustus 2021 bent u allen uitgenodigd voor de tentoonstelling Kunst in de Tuin in de Manzoni Kunst Galerie, van 11.00 tot 17.00 uur! De galerie wordt officieel geopend en we vieren de kunstenaars die deelnemen aan het project Hedendaagse Italiaanse Kunst in Nederland en de nieuwe binnenkomer Rob Koedijk, een Nederlandse kunstenaar uit Assen die met enthousiasme het idee heeft aanvaard om de twee artistieke culturen met elkaar in dialoog te brengen. Wij wachten op u om een koffie, een thee of een glas wijn te drinken en wat over kunst te praten!
Art in the Garden
Zaterdaag 28 Augustus 2021
Manzoni Kunst Galerie
Snellingerdijk 122, 8431 ES Oosterwolde, Netherlands
Today is 13 August and, as well as being my birthday, it is the fifth anniversary of the death of a great artist of Russian origin who travelled the globe, a true Artist of the World: Alexander Sasha Parkevich (Moscow, 1941 – Plain, 2016). In 2018 I was contacted by one of Sasha’s sisters, Natalia Codevilla, a fine artist herself now based in Milan, commissioning me to write a critical analysis of her late brother’s artistic poetics that would accompany a commemorative exhibition in Wisconsin, America. I accepted with enthusiasm because Sasha Parkevich’s works speak to the heart and trigger many thoughts and reflections. Today, in order to remember him and to make him known to those who have not yet had the opportunity to see his work, I present here the art criticism written in both English and Dutch. Enjoy your reading.
Sasha Parkevich, the creator of Modern Divinities
Two years have already passed since the death of Alexander Sasha Parkevich (Moscow 1941 – Plain 2016), an eclectic artist of profound culture and modern Renaissance man. Sasha never wanted to confide his past history but, thanks to his many works (paintings, sculptures and graphics with sketches and comics) imbued with his distinct sensitivity, even those who were not fortunate enough to know him personally now have the opportunity to enter his transcendental, symbolic and spiritual world.
Sasha was a multi-faceted artist with multiple passions, as he himself said, ‘people need to have a passion for something’. Even from his youth, he was attracted to literature, languages, art history and cultures, architecture, gardening, nature and above all to ‘doing’ in the first person: already during his stay in Trieste, Italy (1951-1958), this philosophy of life soon led him to make his first reproductions of Italian Renaissance works of art, which he took up again later, as he came of age, as evidenced by the quick and incomplete sketch in his notebook representing The Madonna and Child, or Madonna of the Chair by Raphael Sanzio, 1513-1514 now in the Palatine Gallery of Palazzo Pitti in Florence.
His mastery and creativity were consolidated not only by his studies at the Fine Art Institute of Indianapolis in the early 1960s, but also by the numerous journeys he undertook between Chicago, San Francisco, Spain, Germany and Mexico between the 1960s and 1970s, during which he never stopped studying and observing the world around him. It was during this twenty-year period that the young artist produced a large number of rapid sketches of different subjects, transfiguring their souls and elaborating on the many artistic currents he observed during his pilgrimages. In his notebooks, one can see reclining nudes with a clear Symbolist and Expressionist quality reminiscent of Egon Schiele’s studies, but also more composed nudes with Matisse-like masks and Picasso-like African masks, such as Women with Chocolate Cookies. In other sketches, human presences can be found in highly detailed interior scenes such as American Gothic # II (homage to Mr and Mrs Grundenbacker) which pays homage to the American artist Grand Wood, or in everyday scenes such as Homage to Edward Hopper or, finally, in astronomical, symbolic, surreal and primordial landscapes rendered with shorthand mastery that closely resemble the works of Joan Mirò, such as the study for Menzonita Busches.
However, it was his stay in Greece between 1983 and 1985, first on the island of Santorini in the village of Oia and then on the island of Lesbos, that gave the artist his first strong impulse: here Sasha was able to concentrate uninterruptedly on his work, perfecting his painting technique and establishing his new philosophy. Looking at her quick sketches of the island’s stray dogs and her charcoal on paper with Two stray dogs, one can see how important these animals were for understanding Mother Nature: in these works, a new spirituality and Sasha’s transcendent soul are legitimised by the laws of Nature because, according to her philosophy, “we are here because Mother Nature wants us to be here. Our sense are her sense. Our hopes, aspirations, fantasies and loneliness are her also”. This does not mean that the artist has simply rendered the subjects in a passive and realistic manner; on the contrary, they have been reworked according to the emotional value of the experience lived in that instant, according to a markedly subjective vision, in the words of Sasha “my Santorini stay was the experiance of a lifetime. When I think of Santorini, there are so many good memories and so many great experiences”. Greece also played another important role for the artist: here he rediscovered his old love for iconographic art, which was so forbidden in Russia during the Stalin regime. In fact, Parkevich produced several icons on wood, in reduced format, of clear religious value, such as the reproduction of the 12th century Mother of God Eleousa, known as the Mother of Vladimir, now in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow: Sasha wanted to use the traditional Russian iconographic method with gold leaf and natural colours, ground by hand and added with an emulsion based on yolk and white wine, to give the two-dimensional images hieraticity and marked symbolism, thus uniting the sensory world with the trans-sensory and trans-temporal world. All this intense work earned him the title of Icon Painter.
His return to America at the end of the 1980s, more precisely to the small town of Plain in Wisconsin, gave Sasha his second artistic impulse: here he finally felt at home and built with his own hands his studio and private garden to exalt Mother Nature to the maximum. His analyses and studies did not end there, as he was constantly searching for something in his art and, as his sister Zora Tammer said, ‘he wanted to make something beautiful with his hands’. Looking at the artist’s production over the last thirty years, one can perceive an intense investigation into Nature, man and the deepest soul. Thanks to Francis Bacon, famous for his disturbing and disfigured portraits characterised by a violent expressionistic charge, by the first half of the 1990s Sasha grasped the soul and feelings of his subjects to transport them exclusively onto their faces, distorted and swollen, made by instinctive, automatic and almost casual brushstrokes. These transfigured works include oil paintings entitled Francis Bacon tribute and King Lear, mixed media oil-pastel paintings depicting the portrait of Dragan Parkevich and The Gambler portrait and, pastel works and sketches depicting Eight portrait sketches of Cardinals who almost became Pope, Six Historic Characters, Six Philosophers, and Nadezhda (Hope in Russian). Of the latter work, it is interesting to note what it conceals: during his childhood, the artist heard a tragic story of a young bride who was struck down by a mysterious illness that changed her external beauty and forced her to shut herself away in a monastery surrounded only by books, poetry and a small icon.
It is now clear how important Russian icons were in Sasha Parkevich’s background from an early age but, having made them his own, from 2000 until his death he decided to create new Cosmic Deities, new Icons, which he made naturally without effort and which, in his words, “I never worry if it is saying anything or does it make any sense”. By now he had completely broken out of the vicious circle of religions, instituted by men themselves in order to have no responsibility for their own actions: his modern Deities were exclusively spiritual and based on Mother Nature and her laws, leading him to take up anthropological, geological and astronomical sciences as well. Sasha defined his Deities primarily as objects of art and they were for him “portraits of our souls on the good days and on the bad days”: thus, for example, Galaxy salesman (oil on panel), Preistess from puma-Punka or Dark figure (both oil on canvas), Study of a Saint (oil on styrofoam) and Socrates on the edge of the circle (pastel on paper), represent deified human souls within blinding golden Almonds that stand out in the dark and silent cosmic space. Painted in a symbolic and expressionistic manner, with brushstrokes laden with thick matter that made them three-dimensional, Sasha’s Deities transcend the intent of the subject and become pure spirit, outside of raw and binding corporeal matter, in a Universe-Mother Nature that gives the possibility to create a new spiritual order , as can also be seen in Golden Diety # II (oil on canvas) in which the gold leaf and almond (a typical element of traditional icons) prevail over the entire space of the canvas, thus reaching the apex of the process of deification and complete detachment from matter.
In conclusion, it can be said that Alexander Sasha Parkevich has succeeded in fully achieving his goal: to make himself known only through his works of art.
A grande richiesta riposto una critica d’arte che avevo scritto tempo fa: la poetica artistica di Natalia Codevilla, pittrice di talento di origini russe ma in stanza a Milano, evoca forti emozioni e per questo motivo piace molto agli appassionati d’arte. Oltre che in italiano, ripropongo lo scritto più sotto anche in inglese ed in olandese.
By popular demand, I am re-posting an art criticism I wrote some time ago: the artistic poetics of Natalia Codevilla, a talented painter of Russian origin but based in Milan, evokes strong emotions and is therefore very popular with art lovers. As well as in Italian, I am also proposing the article below in English and Dutch.
Op veler verzoek plaats ik opnieuw een kunstkritiek die ik enige tijd geleden schreef: de artistieke poëtica van Natalia Codevilla, een getalenteerde schilderes van Russische afkomst maar gevestigd in Milaan, roept sterke emoties op en is daarom zeer geliefd bij kunstliefhebbers. Behalve in het Italiaans, stel ik het onderstaande artikel ook voor in het Engels en het Nederlands.
Pur essendo un’artista poliedrica interessata a diverse tecniche, la parte più consistente della produzione artistica di Natalia Codevilla è stata eseguita a partire dall’inizio del XXI secolo con innumerevoli paesaggi naturalistici di valore impressionistico e dipinti floreali di chiaro carattere decorativo e simbolico.
L’artista milanese di origini russe abbandona definitivamente il disegno preparatorio per poter ricreare la realtà che la circonda attraverso il suo talento e le sue emozioni, la sua memoria storica e le immagini a lei care (come diceva Charles Baudelaire nel 1859 “qualsiasi luogo naturale non ha valore se non per la sensazione attuale che l’artista sa introdurre”), senza per questo rinunciare a un volume di forme dato dal colore stesso, proprio come nelle opere di Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) e Camille Pisarro (1830-1903 ), i due massimi esponenti del movimento impressionista del XIX secolo. È il colore che rende la profondità atmosferica dell’aria e dei soggetti presi in esame: grazie a una stesura rapida e precisa, ed in alcuni casi con l’uso di sottili velature, il colore si imprime sulla tela con tratti materici pulsanti e vivi, brevi e brillanti, che recuperano il senso dell’immediato e della realtà.
Nei suoi paesaggi russi e siberiani, mediterranei, americani, africani, cinesi e giapponesi, Natalia Codevilla riesce a ricreare il realismo e la verità ottica della natura con l’impressione della realtà, come si può vedere in Winter-Spring, melting snow del 2002 dove l’artista evoca chiaramente la tecnica di Claude Monet (1840-1926) ed in particolare la sua Impression: Soleil levant (1872, oggi al Musée Marmottan di Parigi): nella pittura della pittrice c’è la visione di un fenomeno naturale nato nei suoi aspetti impalpabili; il mondo reale viene così smaterializzato in una luminosità evanescente che lo rende più evocato che descritto.
Grazie alla sua esperienza e a tutto ciò che ha visto ed amato, direttamente e indirettamente, l’artista estrapola la memoria e la imprime sulla tela con un gesto rapido, quasi a macchia, che ricorda molto da vicino la tecnica della corrente dei Macchiaioli (seconda metà dell’Ottocento). Ne sono un esempio le tele con Paesaggio russo sul fiume Volga del 2005, Strada nel bosco, Autunno del 2012, Ruscello nel bosco del 2012, Paesaggio italiano con fiume del 2015, Paesaggio russo con prato di betulle del 2017, ed infine Sardegna, Mare in tempesta con barca a vela Liberty del 2018, in cui il fruscio delle fronde degli alberi e la potenza dell’acqua sono resi da piccole pennellate di materia macchiata.
Infine, in altre opere paesaggistiche, come nel Passo dello Stelvio del 2005, nei Giardini pubblici di Milano del 2008, nel Lago Hanghzou della primavera 2014 e nel Paesaggio russo con betulle e ninfee del 2015, Natalia Codevilla va oltre: per rendere al meglio i riflessi dell’acqua, l’evanescenza del cielo e la profondità delle montagne, l’artista procede attraverso velature leggere, sfumate e omogenee di ascendenza leonardesca, prendendo così in considerazione sia la prospettiva aerea che quella cromatica.
La produzione della pittrice milanese è anche ricca di dipinti che hanno come soggetto i fiori, non più considerati come un semplice accessorio, un’arte minore, al servizio dell’arte maggiore come abbiamo assistito con l’evoluzione della storia dell’arte, ma come un genere con un proprio chiaro valore decorativo e simbolico. Nate dalla vita e dalla bellezza femminile, le opere di Natalia Codevilla non possono quindi essere definite nature morte o Vanitas, ma veri e propri esempi di riproduzione impressionista della natura che gioca con forme, volumi e colori. Come si può vedere in Fucsia al vento del 2008 (che ricorda l’impianto compositivo e cromatico dell’Altalena del 1767 di Jean-Honoré Fragonard e oggi alla Wallace Collection di Londra), in Girasoli grandi del 2008, in Rosa del Roseto di Monza del 2012, in Rose gialle Joy del 2018 e in Vaso blu con iris bianco del 2018, le pennellate cremose impresse sulla tela con tocchi guizzanti ricordano da vicino le composizioni floreali di Claude Monet e Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), senza però dimenticare il ritmo e la proporzione, l’equilibrio e l’armonia che sono il biglietto da visita di Natalia Codevilla.
NATALIA CODEVILLA AND THE SEARCHFOR ATMOSPHERIC COLOUR
Although she is a multifaceted artist interested in various techniques, the bulk of Natalia Codevilla’s artistic production has been carried out since the beginning of the 21st century with countless naturalistic landscapes of impressionistic value and floral paintings of a clearly decorative and symbolic nature. The Milanese artist of Russian origin definitively abandoned the preparatory drawing in order to recreate the reality that surrounds her through her talent and her emotions, her historical memory and the images she holds dear (as Charles Baudelaire said in 1859 “any natural place has no value except for the current sensation that the artist knows how to introduce”), without renouncing the volume of form provided by the colour itself, just as in the works of Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) and Camille Pisarro (1830-1903 ), the two greatest exponents of the 19th century Impressionist movement. It is the colour that renders the atmospheric depth of the air and of the subjects examined: thanks to a rapid and precise application, and in some cases with the use of subtle glazing, the colour is impressed on the canvas with pulsating, vivid, short and brilliant strokes that recapture the sense of the immediate and of reality. In her Russian and Siberian, Mediterranean, American, African, Chinese and Japanese landscapes, Natalia Codevilla succeeds in recreating the realism and optical truth of nature with the impression of reality, as can be seen in Winter-Spring, melting snow of 2002 where the artist clearly evokes the technique of Claude Monet (1840-1926) and in particular his Impression: Soleil levant (1872, now at the Musée Marmottan in Paris): in the painter’s painting there is a vision of a natural phenomenon born in its impalpable aspects; the real world is thus dematerialised in an evanescent luminosity that makes it more evoked than described. Thanks to his experience and to all that he has seen and loved, directly and indirectly, the artist extrapolates memory and impresses it on the canvas with a rapid, almost blotchy gesture that closely resembles the technique of the Macchiaioli movement (second half of the 19th century). Examples of this are the canvases Russian Landscape on the Volga River from 2005, Road in the Woods, Autumn from 2012, Stream in the Woods from 2012, Italian Landscape with River from 2015, Russian Landscape with Birch Meadow from 2017, and finally Sardinia, Stormy Seawith Liberty Sailboat from 2018, in which the rustling of the tree branches and the power of the water are rendered by small brushstrokes of stained material. Finally, in other landscape works, such as Stelvio Pass in 2005, Milan Public Gardens in 2008, Hanghzou Lake in spring 2014 and Russian Landscape with Birch Trees and Water Lilies in 2015, Natalia Codevilla goes further: in order to best render the reflections of the water, the evanescence of the sky and the depth of the mountains, the artist proceeds with light, shaded and homogeneous veils of Leonardo’s influence, thus taking into account both the aerial and chromatic perspective. The production of the Milanese painter is also rich in paintings with flowers as their subject, no longer considered as a simple accessory, a minor art, at the service of major art as we have witnessed with the evolution of art history, but as a genre with its own clear decorative and symbolic value. Born of life and female beauty, Natalia Codevilla’s works cannot therefore be defined as still lifes or Vanitas, but as true examples of impressionist reproduction of nature playing with shapes, volumes and colours. As can be seen in Fuchsia in the Wind of 2008 (reminiscent of the compositional and chromatic layout of Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s Swing of 1767, now in the Wallace Collection in London), in Large Sunflowers of 2008, in Rose of the Monza Rose Garden of 2012, in Yellow Roses Joy of 2018 and in Blue Vase with White Iris of 2018, the creamy brushstrokes imprinted on the canvas with darting touches are closely reminiscent of the floral compositions of Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), but without forgetting the rhythm and proportion, balance and harmony that are Natalia Codevilla’s calling card.
NATALIA CODEVILLA EN DE ZOEKTOCHT NAAR ATMOSFERISCHE KLEUR
Hoewel zij een veelzijdig kunstenares is met belangstelling voor verschillende technieken, wordt het grootste deel van Natalia Codevilla’s artistieke productie sinds het begin van de 21e eeuw gerealiseerd met talloze naturalistische landschappen van impressionistische waarde en bloemschilderijen met een duidelijk decoratief en symbolisch karakter. De Milanese kunstenares van Russische afkomst heeft de voorbereidende tekening definitief achter zich gelaten om de haar omringende werkelijkheid te herscheppen door middel van haar talent en haar emoties, haar historisch geheugen en de beelden die haar dierbaar zijn (zoals Charles Baudelaire in 1859 zei: “elke natuurlijke plaats heeft geen waarde behalve de actuele sensatie die de kunstenaar weet in te voeren”), zonder afstand te doen van het vormvolume dat de kleur zelf biedt, zoals in het werk van Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) en Camille Pisarro (1830-1903 ), de twee grootste exponenten van de 19e-eeuwse impressionistische beweging. Het is de kleur die de atmosferische diepte van de lucht en van de onderzochte onderwerpen weergeeft: dankzij een snelle en precieze toepassing, en in sommige gevallen met gebruikmaking van subtiele glacis, wordt de kleur op het doek gedrukt met pulserende, levendige, korte en briljante streken die het gevoel van het onmiddellijke en van de werkelijkheid terugbrengen. In haar Russische en Siberische, mediterrane, Amerikaanse, Afrikaanse, Chinese en Japanse landschappen slaagt Natalia Codevilla erin het realisme en de optische waarheid van de natuur te herscheppen met de indruk van de werkelijkheid, zoals te zien is in Winter-Spring, smeltende sneeuw uit 2002 waar de kunstenares duidelijk de techniek van Claude Monet (1840-1926) oproept en in het bijzonder diens Impressie: Soleil levant (1872, nu in het Musée Marmottan in Parijs): in het schilderij van de schilder is er een visioen van een natuurverschijnsel geboren in zijn ontastbare aspecten; de echte wereld wordt zo gedematerialiseerd in een vluchtige helderheid die haar meer evocerend dan beschreven maakt. Dankzij zijn ervaring en alles wat hij heeft gezien en liefgehad, direct en indirect, extrapoleert de kunstenaar het geheugen en drukt het op het doek met een snel, bijna vlekkerig gebaar dat sterk lijkt op de techniek van de Macchiaioli beweging (tweede helft 19e eeuw). Voorbeelden hiervan zijn de doeken Russisch landschap aan de rivier de Wolga uit 2005, Weg in het bos, Herfst uit 2012, Beek in het bos uit 2012, Italiaans landschap met rivier uit 2015, Russisch landschap met berkenweide uit 2017 en tot slot Sardinië, Stormy Sea with Liberty Sailboat uit 2018, waarin het ruisen van de boomtakken en de kracht van het water zijn weergegeven door kleine penseelstreken van gebeitst materiaal. In andere landschapswerken, zoals Stelvio Pass in 2005, Milan Public Gardens in 2008, Hanghzou Lake in de lente van 2014 en Russian Landscape with Birch Trees and Water Lilies in 2015, gaat Natalia Codevilla verder: om de weerspiegelingen van het water, de vluchtigheid van de lucht en de diepte van de bergen zo goed mogelijk weer te geven, gaat de kunstenares te werk met lichte, schaduwrijke en homogene sluiers van Leonardo’s invloed, en houdt ze dus rekening met zowel het luchtperspectief als het chromatische perspectief. De produktie van de Milanese schilder is ook rijk aan schilderijen met bloemen als onderwerp, niet langer beschouwd als een eenvoudig accessoire, een minder belangrijke kunst, ten dienste van de grote kunst zoals we hebben gezien met de evolutie van de kunstgeschiedenis, maar als een genre met een eigen duidelijke decoratieve en symbolische waarde. De werken van Natalia Codevilla zijn geboren uit het leven en de vrouwelijke schoonheid en kunnen daarom niet worden omschreven als stillevens of Vanitas, maar als ware voorbeelden van impressionistische weergave van de natuur, spelend met vormen, volumes en kleuren. Zoals te zien is in Fuchsia in de wind uit 2008 (die doet denken aan de compositorische en chromatische indeling van Jean-Honoré Fragonards Swing uit 1767, nu in de Wallace Collection in Londen), in Grote zonnebloemen uit 2008, in Roos van de rozentuin van Monza uit 2012, in Gele rozenvreugde uit 2018 en in Blauwe vaas met witte irissen uit 2018, de romige penseelstreken die met penseelstreken op het doek zijn aangebracht, doen sterk denken aan de florale composities van Claude Monet en Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), maar zonder het ritme en de verhoudingen, het evenwicht en de harmonie te vergeten die Natalia Codevilla’s visitekaartje zijn.
We have now reached the last scheduled interview in Ask the artist column, which since December 2020 has been investigating and getting to know better the fifteen artists taking part in the Italian Contemporary Art in the Netherlands Project supported by the neo Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde: artists from all over Italy, artists with very different styles, techniques, subjects and artistic paths, demonstrating just how versatile, complex and multi-faceted art can be.
Today we have as our guest the young visual artist Ilaria Sperotto from Vicenza, whom I met through mutual artistic friendships and for whom I have great respect because of the works of art she creates, in which the essence of her own spirit and unconscious is explored in depth: her canvases are the result of an expressive, abstract and instinctive artistic poetics in which the colour and brushstrokes give the sensation of being catapulted into the primordial psychic dimension of emotions.
Already well known in Italy, Switzerland, Austria, France, and Belgium, Ilaria Sperotto is now present in the Netherlands with six valuable small format works at affordable prices.
Let us finally pass the word to Ilaria Sperotto:
You have certainly been asked this question by many, but the Dutch public does not know how the artist Ilaria Sperotto lived and still lives this historical period that will surely enter the history books: has art helped you? Are there any future projects or is it still too nebulous to concretely plan anything?
In 2020 when the pandemic started it was a braking moment for me, initially very difficult, surreal, I was very scared. Then one day I decided that I had to recover, I had to resume my dream of living a normal life. Painting in this case was fundamental, liberating! Through colour, I freed my emotions and began to feel alive again, to dream! 2021 is a special year, a continuous work in progress. I am currently participating in the “Burma Pavilion”, an international postal art project at Palazzo Zanardi Landi in Guardamiglio Lodi (Italy). While in September 2021 I will exhibit about thirty oil paintings in the historical centre of Vicenza: I will be part of the protagonists of VIOFF “A GOLDEN JOURNEY”, the new edition of Fuori Fiera di Vicenzaoro. I am planning 2022, but I prefer not to talk about it for now.
Do you always paint en plein air like a contemporary impressionist or do you have moments of personal reworking in the studio? Tell us about your creative process…
With the pandemic and the lockdown, I had to adapt to the new situation, in the past I used to paint exclusively en plein air, observing and reinterpreting the landscape, now I paint mainly in the studio. My paintings come from my imagination, from my unconscious, and then I transfer them to canvas. They are visions, landscapes that do not exist.
Looking at the old impressionist oil paintings and comparing them with the more recent metaphysical-abstract works, there has been a big stylistic leap. What triggered this stylistic change?
With the lockdown, an unexpected “click” happened. In the past, I never felt totally free with oil painting, I felt chained and anchored to the influences of my masters. I loved and adore Impressionist painting, but I never felt it was totally mine. Pandemic allowed me to explore myself inside, to listen to myself. My latest works are the result.
You are an all-round artist: let’s talk about your symbolist ceramics. What inspires you?
Ceramics are a world of their own, I am extremely fascinated by the earth, by its plasticity and I love to experiment. For several years now, I have been mainly inspired by the theme of cities, my travels, my studies. One of the things they taught me at the Faculty of Architecture is to look, to observe the context, the landscape, the territory. To explore with the gaze, to imagine what is no longer there or not yet there. Architecture, like Art, springs from the imagination. Urban Planning itself is first and foremost a prediction. And so, I try to blur my vision, to blur my look in order to see beyond the vision.
You are always looking for pure emotion: what do you want to convey to those who linger in front of your works?
In my work, painting, like ceramics, is instinctive, charged with emotions and moods that everyone can read and interpret in their own depths. What I want to convey is an empathic and intuitive emotion. An essence that is not to be found in the matter outside of us or beyond the reality perceivable with the senses, but within us and within the inner world in which we live, learning to look beyond appearance, beyond the visible, through the emotion that dwells in the mind.
I would like to thank Ilaria Sperotto for the time she has dedicated to us and remind readers that they can view the young artist’s works of art online at www.criticoarte.org/galleria-gallery/ilaria-sperotto/ or come to the gallery and see for themselves the quality of the oils on display.
Twelve years have passed since I had the pleasure and the honour of meeting the Milanese master Maurizio Brambilla: thanks to his guidance and advice, I took my first steps in the field of art criticism even before I obtained my Master’s degree in Art History and Art Criticism at the Università Statale di Milano. I owe my first presentations at solo and group exhibitions, my first contemporary art criticism, and the drafting of my first art catalogues to Maurizio Brambilla, who in twelve years made me breathe quality art, and who brought me up and accompanied me in a competitive and difficult-to-manage world. The years have gone by for me and they have also gone by for the Master, who has completely revolutionised the colour scheme of his artistic poetics without betraying his personal Magic Realism: in his new artistic production, the observer begins a journey between reality and oneiric vision towards a completely transcendental world. The Milanese artist is already present in private collections in Italy, Switzerland, France and Germany, and is now ready for the Dutch market: his works are in fact hosted at the neo Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde and take part in the Contemporary Italian Art in Holland project.
But let us finally get to know Maurizio Brambilla:
We have known each other for many years, but it is only recently that you have completely changed both your colour palette, from intense and bright colours to a more spiritual monochrome, and your painting technique, from oil to enamelled acrylic: what is this radical change due to? Tell us.
After years of painting, I brought with me the magic of continuous discovery. If my previous expressive language was able to reach everyone through comprehensible figuration, in this latest production of paintings I have deepened my reflections and am constantly trying to communicate emotions/reasoning pictorially to the viewer. At first it all seems like a game, but if we pause and look closely at these simple images of mine, the emotions find their way out of our prison, and they do so carry a baggage of symbols: such as the infinite “alpha and omega”, the double paradise, nature, artifice and rebirth, etc. There is a continuity of subjects/objects, and they can be seen in the pictures. There is a continuity of subjects/objects, but I have removed many colours in the name of experimentation and for stylistic growth, in terms of refinement. In recent years, I have faced a consistent loss of colouristic truth: the new canvases are in fact almost monochrome and play even more on an introspective and poetic aspect.
Your works are symbolic and metaphorical. What is the profound message you want to convey with such surreal and metaphysical works? Aren’t you afraid that today’s audience will not fully understand your intention?
Narrative is the foundation of communication, identity, and memory: contemporary life is the result of the loss of narrative. Painting offers us the possibility to start again, to start from a starting point, from an image, from a horizon line or a vanishing point, from a colour, from a new arrangement of everyday forms. To start again by accepting to think, to fantasise, to establish connections. In the apparent simplicity of my compositions and labyrinths, the key word is ‘emotion’.
Your canvases are studied down to the smallest detail and have subtle historical and artistic references that are very current and contemporary. How do you choose the most suitable symbology to include?
The image is the resource that allows us to leave the limits of reality, to exploit a cue, a light to reach another horizon, to expand into another space. A cue becomes in my paintings the narration, of metaphors of life in general. The key word is visionarity. My subjects emerge from the shapes and colours of an everyday reality. Once freed from everyday use and purified, they are reborn in another reality, parallel to reality itself, taking on a different meaning. My research is governed by the inner gaze. A defined or undefined space from which my images emanate, made with everyday objects (boxes, jars, parallelepipeds, cones, labyrinths, spheres, papers) that give off their own light, immersed in a Po Valley fog that envelops the composition of the painting. My ideas are born from everyday reality, and I am interested in tone-on-tone shapes and colours only when they evoke something completely different within me or are illuminated by a new light, diffused in creating an emotion from my own experience and history.
I would like to ask you a philosophical question that I believe can explain all your poetics based on Magic Realism: what does Harmony mean to you?
In these last few years of work, I have cleaned myself of the conventional colours of things and figures to make light/shadows more important and to render an almost suspended representation of silence, a distant settlement of thought, being there when everything seems to have already passed, when the noise of the world no longer reaches us, and a barely audible breath is the usual precious good that resists. This is how I like to see in these latest works the encounter with a fragment of the world that is organised before our eyes. Because the idea, the concept I want to express is to give life and vitality to these pictorial representations of mine. Vitality is not a physical or organic attribute; it is the inner spiritual life: painting is not the place of nothingness but the manifestation of existence.
Let’s talk about the future and projects. How is the Group of 6 – Eoykos, which I had the opportunity to present years ago in Milan, progressing? Are there any new dates to mark in your diary?
The Group of 6 Eoykos is at a standstill for the reasons we all know. The last exhibition of the group took place in Annely Haute Savoie France (stand n° 74). We hope to start again when everything is almost back to normal. In the meantime, I sold in 2019/20 n° 2 paintings at the Ambrosiana Arte Auction House in Milan with much satisfaction. As for my solo exhibitions, I will try to organise them by the end of the year: perhaps Prague, Milan, and Mantua. At the end of 2021, my fourth monograph will be published with great satisfaction because it will include the last three years of my new way of painting: the title of the monograph will be “Labyrinths and Compositions of the Soul”.
I sincerely thank Maestro Maurizio Brambilla for his collaboration and attention in answering questions. I would like to remind readers that they are always welcome at the Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde and can view the Maestro’s works online at www.criticoarte.org/galleria-gallery/maurizio-brambilla/. Works of great historical and pictorial value, of high executive quality, at prices truly within everyone’s reach.
We have now reached the third-to-last appointment with the column “Question to the artist” and today we have the pleasure of getting to know the painter Bianca Beghin, an artist from Padua who enhances in her large canvases the emotions derived from direct contact with Nature. The painter’s artistic poetics are in fact based on the sensations perceived during complete immersion in nature (particularly in the woods), which becomes a means of releasing tension and recovering inner peace. Interaction with Nature gives rise to canvases of great emotional impact, made precious by the use of mixed media, developed over years of experimentation, and by the skilful use of symbolic colour applied in an expressionist manner, reminiscent of the French Fauves movement. It can be argued that if Nature is an enigmatic poem, as the Frenchman Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) maintained, Bianca Beghin has found the right key to its interpretation and interpretation. Already present in Italian, German and American collections, Bianca Beghin is now present in Holland with the Contemporary Italian Art in the Netherlands project supported by the neo-Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde, which aims to bring the best of the Italian art scene to the attention of Dutch collectors.
Let’s finally have a chat with Bianca Beghin:
Your works can be defined as expressionistic and release the emotion of the moment experienced in direct contact with Nature. Can you tell our readers how your canvases are created in detail?
If we consider Expressionism, the tendency to maximise the emotional side of reality over the objectively perceptible one, my works are certainly Expressionistic. In my works, I represent the emotions I feel not only in contact with nature, but also in my relationship with people. I love walking in the woods and in the mountains, where silence surrounds me and the soul is forced to stop and reflect. Every tree, every leaf transmits a harmonious and sweet fluid that heals my heart and mind and regenerates me. Getting close to nature helps me to harmonise my energy by creating a right harmony between my spiritual being and my physical body. I try to fix certain moments in images, I photograph trees that arouse particular emotions in me, which I try to bring back to the canvas. I don’t care if the tree is not objectively real, what I want is to capture emotional moments, explore feelings, represent places of the soul: wonder, regret, liberation, elevation, beauty…
Let’s talk about the subject that you represent in an expressionistic, almost abstract way: why did you choose trees, and in particular trunks?
The tree is a metaphor for life. Like every person, it is born, grows, develops, fully experiences adulthood, and dies; and it is always a companion, a confidant, a friend who follows me in the transformations of my life. Man lives in Nature and should appreciate it and strive for it to remain as a common value; he should be able to feel the Harmony of Nature and grasp its inner drives. Furthermore, I chose the tree because it is the symbol of femininity and motherhood. It is mother sensitive and delicate, courageous and magnetic. The soul of every tree vibrates and is full of trepidations, joys, defeats, resilience. Taking refuge in a tree is like taking refuge in a mother’s womb, always ready to welcome and encourage. That’s why my favourite subjects are trees and especially trunks, anchored to the earth, tangible, strong, like the emotions we physically experience.
Regarding your favourite technique: how do you manage to make the trees you represent speak?
I focus a lot on the colour, which must “speak” and be able to convey emotions, a colour that is never pure, but always obtained from various mixtures, and laid on the canvas, which is first prepared to receive it. Sometimes, I apply a coat of chalk to create a more material background, others, I start directly from the grisaille, which is a monochromatic sketch, suitable for identifying the areas of light and shade and modelling the volumes. I then proceed by glazing and applying the colour, which thus becomes more intense, deeper, ready to narrate emotions. Even the titles convey particular sensations, they are never chosen at random, but designed and studied to enhance and highlight my feelings and those of every woman: Tenderness, Tears of love, Madness in the air, Embrace, Illusion, Enchantment, Seeking, Impetus…
Artists always have a special gift, namely a great and marked sensitivity that leads them to see beyond what is perceived in the first instance. According to the painter Bianca Beghin, where does true Beauty lie?
Beauty? It is the harmony of different, forms and colours; the artist’s task is to make this harmony visible. It is not an inherent property of the work, but a subjective datum of perception of pleasure, independent of the existence of the represented subject. And this harmony is capable of provoking reflections on one’s own existence in relation to the natural world.
You are not an academic, but that does not mean you are not an excellent artist. How have your humanistic studies influenced your artistic poetics?
Being self-taught does not mean being without artistic knowledge. It can be obtained with a lot of study, through individual paths or by taking courses with recognised masters. I believe that my humanistic education has definitely influenced my art, especially because it has taught me the value of knowledge, study and research. Studying literature, history and philosophy has helped me to better understand the world around me, to appreciate contact with nature and to have greater sensitivity when it comes to conveying emotions and feelings on canvas.
It is almost summer and, going over the months that have passed since the start of our chats with artists thanks to this column, we have got to know very different personalities and poetics to give the public a chance to discover the Italian art scene now present in Holland with the project Contemporary Italian Art in Holland, supported by the neo-Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde. Today we will discover the vision of the young artist from Terracina Marina De Carlo, whom we met through a mutual friendship, and who I am proud to present in northern Europe precisely because of the freshness, authenticity, genius and philosophical depth of what she achieves. An aerial art for the perspectives used, a conceptual art full of symbolism that teaches respect for Creation, a material, living and tactile art to allow everyone to enjoy it: an art that is able to transmit inner peace and wonder.
But now let us move on to the interview with Marina De Carlo:
Your artistic production is based on the use of a very particular and interesting mixed technique that is tactile and alive at the same time: would you like to explain what it consists of and if it is difficult to maintain for those who wish to become your collectors?
My islands follow the lines of real ones, I try to reproduce them as close to reality as possible. They are made of concrete and I carve them by hand. To recreate the typical nature of the islands, after a long research, I have included stabilised live moss to bring my works to life. The stabilised live moss comes from various parts of the world: Finland, Chile, Siberia, Provence; it is hand-picked and subjected to a stabilisation process that makes it unchanged over time. The musks I use for my islands are therefore able to maintain their characteristics of softness, colour and structure. They do not need water, soil or light, but only feed on the humidity of the environment. Stabilised moss also retains a light forest scent. The only thing I recommend is to place the work away from heat sources.
Let’s talk about the subject you love so much and which is present at the Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde in Holland: the sea and islands. Why did you choose this theme and how do you represent it?
I was very inspired by the place where I live: I can see the sea from the windows of my house and the sense of freedom that the sea, even if only by sight, expresses, has filled many of my sorrows. I like to be able to travel on my canvases, to imagine myself elsewhere. Art is an escape for me, and being able to ‘fly’ over the sea is the ultimate expression of freedom.
In your artistic production, however, there are not only seas, but also works dedicated to space and extremely conceptual works closely linked to the Holy Scriptures: would you describe them to us?
I have recently started “flying” in space. Since I was a child, I have always been fascinated by NASA photos: I loved feeling infinitely small in the infinitely large. For my “space” canvases, I use resin, which I colour black with natural pigments, and alcoholic inks, which make up the heart of the work. With the inks, I try to reproduce the explosions and bright colours typical of Nebulae. I also love to reproduce the planets, the stars and everything that arouses a sense of wonder and amazement in my eyes. The last (for now) cycle is dedicated to the focus of my life: God and the Holy Scriptures. Putting God first in my life has been my greatest victory, giving meaning to my whole existence. For these works I use epoxy resins as a background, while the letters that make up the sentences are made of cement. The play of light and shadow under the letters is, in my understanding of art, the pinnacle of perfection.
To sum up, your art can be defined as aerial, symbolic and conceptual: what is the profound message that the artist Marina De Carlo wants to communicate?
The message I would like to communicate with my art is one of Freedom: there are no limits! My imagination has taken me very far, while remaining still. I have managed to break down many barriers and create art that is not only visual, but also tactile, that can be not necessarily only “seen” but also “touched” for the blind.
Plans for 2021? Besides being present at the Art Explosion in Assen on 3 July and at the Nationale Kunst Dagen in November in Nieuwegein, do you have other events on your agenda? Covid permitting.
It is a very difficult period for exhibitions and events, but in July I will participate in the Biennale di Genova with Satura Arte, and in September I will be present in the exhibition in Crema for the 750th anniversary of the birth of Dante Alighieri. On 5 June, one of my works was selected to participate in an exhibition event in Catania to celebrate the 160th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy.
I would like to thank Marina De Carlo very much for her time. I am sure that her works of art will certainly be appreciated here in Holland; in the meantime, I invite you to take a look at the page dedicated to her: www.criticoarte.org/galleria-gallery/marina-de-carlo/
Although it has only been a few months since I first met Piedmontese artist Gianni Depaoli via the web, a deep mutual trust and esteem has been established, as well as a great admiration for the elegant conceptual works he creates. Gianni Depaoli is the only conceptual artist in the Contemporary Italian Art in the Netherlandsproject because his intense artistic poetics have shaken my innate distrust of this contemporary art form. Gianni Depaoli’s art is based on the principles of eco-sustainability and bio-diversity, which are conveyed to the observer through the creation of installations and works (pictorial and sculptural, figurative and abstract), which gather different meanings and take on identities that can be traced back to historical and cultural contexts that are always closely linked to respect for the sea and organic waste, which is charged with artistic, lyrical and poetic value and can be called a “new icon” and a “contemporary fossil”. The Piedmontese artist is already internationally known and has been present in the Netherlands for several years; after his absence in the last decade, he has decided to show his new conceptual works at the Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde.
But let’s finally give the opportunity to Gianni Depaoli to speak:
You are a conceptual artist and creator of new crystallised and lyrical contemporary icons: how did you get on this path? Tell us about your artistic journey. It all began in September 2007 when a courageous director like Marco Valle of the E. Caffi Museum in Bergamo, after seeing a project of mine that was still in its embryonic stage, decided to dedicate an entire exhibition to me: “Mare Nero” (Black Sea). That small number of works – just seven – represented my first public appearance. From that rather fortunate debut, a tam-tam started that involved many other museums. These days, my ‘Constatazioni’, as I call them and not denunciations, since these situations have always been in the public eye, are on display in many museums and institutions. They have managed to arouse curiosity and finally arrive at the first art museum that has welcomed me in the Gallery of Modern Art in Genoa, directed by Maria Flora Giubilei, with whom I came up with a certainly bizarre idea: to “pollute” the museum by combining desecrating works, such as mine, with the masterpieces on display. A gamble that will lead to the production of an entire catalogue, plus an extension of another three months and a page on “From Genoa to Genoa”, a book by Andrea Ranieri, councillor for culture of the Ligurian capital. A great satisfaction. From the creation of works that unequivocally pointed out the disasters caused by man, to the use of organic waste material, the step was short, that is to say, to ennoble with its waste one of the primary foods that has always nourished the World: fish.
Your atelier is very different from a painter’s atelier and is almost on a par with an alchemist’s laboratory or an operating theatre: would you like to discover the veil of mystery and describe it to our audience? What tools and materials do you use, what techniques…? My studio is the warehouse that was used for importing, processing and distributing fish, i.e. a former refrigerated warehouse now renamed Menotrenta Museum, the exhibition rooms are the former cold storage rooms, the former laboratories are my studio, the offices are partly a reception area but above all a condensation of past, future or never completed projects. The new research developed around 2014 using inks and cephalopod skins treated to preserve and maintain the natural colour of the livery, thanks to a method patented by me, and manipulated with steel needles and surgical scalpels, leads to transforming the material to discover its beauty and transparency. This new study gives new life to organic waste, which I consider the link and indelible memory of the product that nourished the Human Being. “From the edible that nourishes the body, to the art that nourishes the spirit”. Material painting becomes the strongest impulse for the search for natural colour, which will become the only colour used, regulated by the manipulation of the chromatophores existing in the product, without adding artificial colours. With the Abissi project, he investigates the known and the unknown and the tortuous paths of human thought. He discovers and highlights the wounds and excrescences of lacerated skin that become abysses and meanders where thought is lost and regenerated, revealing the suffering I have undergone during my life journey, which I define as my Via Crucis.
In 2010 you had the opportunity to attend the Affordable Art Fair in Amsterdam and the Open Art Fair in Utrecht: how did you find it at the time and how do you hope Holland will be in 2021? It was a unique experience for me, also due to the fact that I had worked with Holland for more than 40 years: from the ports of Urk, Volendam, Harlinger, Jimuiden, I imported Dutch fish for schools, plaice. When I came, I brought a project representing Holland’s fishing history, told to me by local fishermen and producers, and the incredible and extraordinary combination. A small country like our region has a product, the plaice, that is known and appreciated all over the world, and another combination that links the morphology of that fish to Holland (but I will only reveal this when a Dutch public institution invites me to do an exhibition in Holland). From there my research started and the first exhibition with these materials was held in Holland, all the works were made with plaice skin, historical fishing nets, wooden crates from the 1960s which are now obsolete. It was a great success and I even got an article in a local newspaper with a photo of one of the works (Het Urkerland).
What are your future projects for the coming months? What are you working on? I have many future projects, both in terms of new research that I am conducting and exhibitions that we are preparing. There are many events already planned that have been postponed due to Covid 19, I am a finalist in two important competitions, I am preparing a personal exhibition that will have an important institutional venue and that will be supported by a museum where I will donate works that will be sold to an association that deals with the fight against cancer, as I have done in the past, and that will be my main prerogative for the future (a promise I made to my wife before she flew away). I will also be present at some important events in Italy and abroad that have already been scheduled.
What is the ultimate goal of Gianni Depaoli’s highly personal and innovative Conceptual Art? Aren’t you afraid that only a narrow niche of art lovers can understand the profound message that your works convey? Observing reality and shaping it so that people can enjoy it and become aware of it, by extrapolating my inner self, my sufferings but also the daily enjoyment of the beauty that nature gives us. My works feature faces and silhouettes, sometimes clearly revealed, sometimes hidden, which underline my relationship with the unknown and my search for the lightness of being. Restlessness, anguish and fear are represented by lacerations, abysses and meanders that wound the skin, but are exorcised by the transparent beauty of natural shapes and colours. I have always been interested in bringing out the “detail”, imagining the backstage of life, discovering the hidden construction rather than enjoying the final result. It is the detail that differentiates us and makes us unique, our indelible and recognisable signature. No, it doesn’t worry me; on the contrary, it fascinates me. When you cross the border for an experimental process you already know that you will encounter difficulties, difficulties that the great masters have also encountered, Burri, Arman, Penone, Pistoletto to name but a few, and now let’s see where they have arrived. Now the people of art are prepared for these new processes, they themselves are looking for new productions that can amaze them. Fortunately, I have always met collectors who wanted to invest in something innovative and unusual and museums that wanted to present something particular, in terms of the material, its handling, but at the same time expressing very strong concepts.
A graphic designer, art teacher and illustrator from Lombardy, Fabrizio Spadini has been living in Tuscany since 2009. Here he has been inspired by the light and landscapes that lead him to paint en plein air every day, just as the members of the Macchiaioli group used to do in the second half of the 19th century. Looking at the young artist’s works, the viewer is struck and transported to a past between the surreal and the realist: elements of the iconography of Japanese animated series from the 1970s and 1980s are elegantly combined with the realist style and atmosphere of the 19th-century painting tradition. The new heroes and fantastic icons, now in the collective imagination, materialise on a realistic plane: an imagined and surreal future made up of waiting, motionless and silent atmospheres, made possible by the fast, non-material brushstrokes. His artistic poetics are already appreciated in Italy, England and America, and he is part of the Contemporary Italian Art in Netherlands project supported by the Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde.
We get to know the artist Fabrizio Spadini better with five questions:
Many people have asked you why you combine 19th century art with fantastic characters from Japanese manga and anime and cult TV movies/series like Star Trek and Star Wars, would you like to explain this to our audience? If you could go back in time, who would you spend your day with? And if you could get into a comic book, which one would you choose?
I believe that certain narratives belonging to the mass cultural imagination, conveyed by cinema, television, science fiction literature, comics, are at the basis of what is our present. In fact, they constitute established cultural models that have become tradition, in the same way that the pre-industrial visual imagery of the 19th century can be considered as the infancy of the society of the first decades of the 21st century. Juxtaposing these ‘visual and cultural roots’ through pictorial artifice seems to me to be a good way to make people reflect on our contemporaneity. If I could go back in time, I would spend my day with a mid-nineteenth century peasant, one of those you might see in a Fattori painting, I think he would have a lot to teach me. If I could be in a comic book, it would be a story by Milo Manara.
How come art between the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century is the protagonist of your production? Have you ever thought of experimenting with Renaissance or Baroque art, for example by creating a combination of Japanese sorceresses and Madonnas, even though the theme could become sacrilegious?
Stylistically, I am interested in the transition and evolution of painting at the turn of the century. The spread of photography has allowed painting to break free from the purely mimetic representation of reality, and since the reference models in my works walk the line between reality and imagination, I find it interesting to visually address the pictorial language that developed during that historical period. I am planning a series of works that deals with the theme of the “wizards” of Japanese animation, but in relation to a theme that concerned the female figure in particular in the first decades of the twentieth century, but I do not want to make anticipations for the moment.
How do you approach the artistic idea: tell us all the secrets of creating your work? I usually jot down ideas about a subject, a suggestion, but often in front of the empty canvas new ideas emerge and consequently I work quite quickly. I don’t usually make a preparatory drawing and paint freely. Then, when the subject is emerging, I do some iconographic research and look for references to use as a guide for the painting. I often listen to radio dramas or audio books while working. Instead, when I want to get charged up, I listen to cartoon theme songs or film soundtracks that at that moment can reconnect me to a state of mind that I want the work to convey.
The theme of imprisonment: how did the artist Fabrizio Spadini deal with the forced closures caused by Covid-19 in 2020? Has art helped you not to fall into oblivion by creating great new works?
Loneliness has never been a problem for me and my work. I have tried to resist the temptation of trying to tell the present through my works in a didactic way. I am interested in the relationship between man and technology, artificial intelligence, man and the media. In this sense, the course of history is accelerating, which we will only be aware of in several years, and with hindsight we will be able to draw objective conclusions, for better or for worse. The current situation in relation to what is happening in the world since the end of 2019 is creating many divisions, the archetype of the “enemy” of the alien, the rhetoric of war, only emphasise these aspects. I prefer to immerse myself in the colours of my works where the “red zone” is the one that refers to the last rays of the sun at dusk.
Do you have plans for 2021? I know you will be working on Japanese Magpies: which is your favourite and do you already have the ideal setting in mind?
In 2021 I am experimenting with new narrative strands in view of upcoming exhibitions and shows for 2022. In particular, I am working on large format canvases in relation to the Masters of the early 20th century. Although she is not exactly a sorceress, but still possesses uncommon powers, Lamu (or Lum Urusei Yatsura) is definitely my favourite. I’m currently painting a large canvas depicting her in a nocturnal Venetian carnival.