When the poetic thought of art becomes truth
Interview by Serena Filippini
How does your interest in art and the desire to create take shape?
Music has been part of my life from a very young age, I played the double bass, and I had various experiences in the field of jazz, which was my first contact with art and creativity. Soon, out of a sense of great curiosity, I took an interest in sound experimentation and was overwhelmed by this experience. I got as far as John Cage, and it was here that I felt the need not only to listen but also to construct and see. I don’t think it was a simple desire to create, as much as a need for completion, for the materialisation of all those emotional states that come from listening, emotions that I did not want to lose. The result was that I became extremely interested in modern and contemporary art and developed a passion for collecting, which helped me to consolidate my relationship with art.
An observation of your work displays a need for truth, the evocation of concrete elements through the poetic thought of your art. Where did this need come from?
Here, the works of recent years must be taken into consideration, in which there is no preliminary project but a real material transposition of the dream vision of the work itself from which its assembly is born. I have always thought that the representation of an object is fully expressed in the use of the object itself, as it was to some extent with photography with respect to figurative painting. The need for truth is my need for what is true, real, without compromise. I do not conceive the idea of painting a bottle but rather of using a real bottle, this is the truth, that which you see is, and I do not think you can go beyond the original.
Another presence that can be grasped from his works is the perception of a continuous becoming, as if something were about to happen. Should this be interpreted as a metaphor for the “in fieri” characteristic of human beings themselves and their existence, or as the real imminence of something that must and will happen?
I think I can attribute the continuous becoming to the passage of time, time that also flows in my works without sparing them: I see them different every day, I see their barely perceptible changes caused by time and I find this romantic. They are continuing to evolve, something is about to happen, and something happens every day for me too because I live in the contemporary world, influenced by everyday life, but with the full awareness that what must and will happen is nothing more than the fruit of our actions. I have to confess that I am very fearful in scrutinising what will happen, I am somewhat fearful!
Your works are made up of various materials, often commonplace and recognisable, assembled in an original way to create new and never didactic dialogues. How are they selected and combined?
Choosing the materials is always very complex, the discriminating factor is always time, meaning the age, history and ageing of the object. In fact, static and unable to defend itself, to react or to take shelter, it becomes an inert witness of time and encapsulates all those structural and surface modifications, giving rise to a dramatic aesthetic.
Mine is a research work to get in tune with the passage of time in objects, leaving, for example, the plasters to weather for months, using water and salt to replicate the deterioration caused by brine or propagating oxidation on iron with the bitumen of Judea and, in general, favouring the meeting of the elements that contribute to the modification of the materials to reach the ultimate goal of the perception of a dramatic vision in the ageing of the object. Even in the choice of materials, there is always a need for truth. When I use Venetian stucco, shavings, lime putty and plaster I want everything to be completely natural, not only for an ethical and aesthetic reason, because only if they are natural do these products come close to reality in order to provide a real “piece of wall” to look at, with all its experiences and suffering. Finally, the assembly of the materials takes place within sensory and aesthetic schemes: when I start to feel fearful, it means that the final result is not far off, and when I glimpse its drama, I can consider it finished.
Also interesting is the fact that it should not have been automatically expected that you would open your work to the outside, to the eyes of observers, who are given the opportunity to read the works through their own personal interpretation, thus enriching them with new possible insights. How important to you is this sharing of experiences, these attributions of meaning and memories that have arisen and been brought to light through the observation of your work?
The experiences of openness to the outside serve to satisfy my need to compare my work with disinterested, distracted, absorbed people, since I believe that only in this way can I experience strong sensations rich in content, but all capable of surprising me. In this experience gained through anonymously eliciting comments, appreciation, denigration, amazement, simple glances stricken with fear, awareness, emotion, discomfort, none of the observers recognised me, and this is an added value for the discussion that follows, and extremely useful for my research.
We often hear that for art to be it, must be universal, even if the idea and the work itself originate from the individual subjectivity of the artist. Si tratta di una riflessione con la quale molti giovani artisti oggi stanno facendo i conti per trovare una direzione da intraprendere per il proprio lavoro. You seem to be able to make both parts, subjectivity and universality, coexist in a balanced way in your work; how do you manage to achieve this balance? How would you advise a young artist who is still searching for “his” universality?
I have never had the vocation of an “adviser”. I see so much enthusiasm in young artists, at times a brilliant creativity and a serious commitment imbued with great motivation, that I should be the one asking for advice, spending time with a young artist, to discuss and converse. I believe that contaminations are the mainstay in the search for one’s own universality, namely all forms of artistic expression. These days, it is extremely easy to connect with interesting exhibitions all over Europe, as well as highly specialised galleries, and the internet, with the necessary filter, offers us an infinite number of creative visions from all over the world; if we let these stimuli do their work in our minds and thoughts, we will become citizens of the artistic universe. However, it is subjectivity that originates the idea and, as far as I am concerned, contact with all those natural elements whose use and consumption does not change the planet is a fundamental stimulus. If I had to give some advice, I would say never to lose the conviction of one’s own expressive language, because only the artists can modify it solely for their own critical sense and without being influenced too much by external comments. In this regard, I recall that in the 1960s there was even an extremely critical parliamentary question on the purchase of a Grande sacco (Large sack) by Alberto Burri because it was considered “too black”… just imagine what we would have lost if that genius had been swayed.