I started to paint in the streets as a teenager, but was doing letters and characters. Only about 6 years ago did I really transition to doing figures.
2. …and about the first time you felt as an artist.
I think I have always felt like an artist, but for many years I did not want to admit it. It’s frightening to take a on a career and a challenge where there is so much heritage and your work and identity are intertwined. So the more passionate you grow around your work, the more critiques hurt, and you are pushed to grow or to conform to the norms that are taking place at that time. So many times I have struggled with what it means to be an artist in this day and age, and I keep coming back to the fact that I am so attracted to art, because it is one of the only things in this world that is truly infinite. So I feel like an artist, every time I encounter an infinite challenge, or have to push myself forward in my craft, or feel challenged by a project- This is when I feel it the most.
3. How important is it bringing art into the street? And in the subusbs? Do you think that art can also lead to a social cohesiveness in addition to an aesthetic beauty?
I think It is of the utmost importance for art to be in the streets. Many young people can be scared of the attitude of museums and of galleries, and they feel as though they must know something in order to appreciate art, but on the streets it is completely democratic and completely equalized. I think art in the public space makes the public think, because there is no wall text from curators, and no institutions says it is or is not art, it is the eye of the public to decide. And often they vote for the validity of art by taking a picture, or by engaging with the work in some way. This keeps art alive and fresh, open to peoples ideas, rather than behind velvet ropes in a white box.
I am not sure art can lead to a social cohesiveness, as I do not think cohesion in society is possible in such a globalized world. Because there are myriad influences for every culture, and each culture now has the accessibility of the internet, the world has lossmuch of the niche appeal it had before. The cohesion, when it does exist, seems to come from those with the most money to promote or advertise that trend, and therefore the cohesion of a true societal wave is left to the subtext of the underground. However if a company endorses this subtext, it can become commercially cohesive. I believe this is extraordinarily unfortunate because things which go against economic efficiency and cohesion are often what societies in the future end up appreciating. The world moves too quickly from trend to trend, and in turn the products must switch as quickly as the caprices of the consumers, so in many ways I am thankful for the analog and singular nature of street art which is hard to productive and turn into a consistent factor. Street art is monitored by the public, its destruction could be mitigated or brought about by anyone with will power or a spray can. Therefore lasts only if the zeitgeist deems it worthy, including the lowest common denominator. This pieces can become treasures, treasure which shine in contrast to the rest of the advertising and cohesion which the commercial world presents us with. Treasures which the people can feel spirit and soul in, and therefore sometimes protect as mirrors to their own individualism.
4. Is there any building/wall/structure you wish to paint ? (with one of your works?)
Yes Absolutely. I would love to do a show inside of the Coliseum in Roma, To build scuptures and paint temporary walls that engaged with the structure itself but also created a new experience within such rich history. I am a huge fan of Roman and Italian history so this would be a dream to do. Also I would like to paint a Le Corbusier building, Or the facade of Moma New York , or Notre Dame (if any wall space where to present itself), this list goes on for quite a long time.
5. Your art seems like ancient tribal cave art but rich of symbols and abstract characters.
What do you tell in your works?
I would like to create the modern cave paintings of today. As I referred to once in an essay, my goal is to create “Open Source Heiroglyphics” or Images that carry allegorical and and philosophical implications for each viewer in an individualistic way. I like to paint from my subconscious and then to analyze after as if it was a dream. I hope that each viewer can engage with my works in a similar way, and rather than feeling excluded conceptually, to feel integrated into the piece as though it was a personal part of their own heritage. These are images about the human condition, and about things which we all face. I feel as though much conceptual art perpetuates isolation, where allegorical and hieroglyphic work unifies us. I tend to use the same symbols in different scales and formats because once I have incorporated them into my pantheon, they replace emotion and though and I begin to use them as a short hand to my emotions when working on a piece.
6. Considering that this is not a trade magazine (but it’s one of the most read daily newspaper in Italy), would you like to tell which is the higher quote of one oI f your work? And do you remember the price you sold you first one?
I don’t like to talk about art and money together, if anyone is interested they can go to the galleries that I work with. Unfortunately, I feel as though art today has been polluted by investment, and while not entirely a negative thing for the artist, I believe that if one thinks about economics while creating paintings then you are making a product not a piece of history. As for my first painting- or the most foolish painting I have ever sold I am comfortable sharing this as its a funny story. I was just out of art school, and had been commissioned to paint a gigantic piece for a local restaurant. When the owner saw the piece, she hated it because she thought it would “scare the children” and so refused to pay me for it. I had spent an entire month on the work and had to pay my rent, so I ended up selling it to a guy for $800 so I could cover my expenses, and I wrote it off as a loss. The piece had taken well over 400 hours, and was in full color and was the best work I had made in my opinion, measuring out at around 20x 8 feet. Two years later, the guy resold the work for over ten times what I sold it to him for, without me knowing. However, although the story does not sound promising, I learned many necessary things from this encounter, and many opportunities came from just making the piece itself. Often in the midst of crisis there are the greatest opportunities.
7. What did you buy the first time you sold your works ?
More paint, and more canvas. I used to paint on two 7×5 stretcher bars that I found, and when someone would buy a work, I would not give them the stretcher bars, so I would take the work off and put a new canvas on. It was a complete relief to have more stretcher bars after I started selling works, and I realized the more canvases I had around, the less seriously I took them, and the more my work grew because of my lack of concern.
8. Has what you do a public/political power?
I think art and politics always goes hand in hand, whether or not the artist admits it. Politics are not necessarily bi-partisan for me always, but often found within daily engagement with the world. This is the politics I talk about, human interaction, the cycle of civilizations. Very Mirco and very Macro politics, and somehow I skip the what is happening in the news and either focus on what is happening in my own life, or what is repeating itself in history. THis reveals the very binary nature of my work as well, and in my ways informs the color palette and treatment of figures in the pieces. If the works are mirrors to the public, I believe that the meaning, both politically and otherwise behind the pieces, will be as elastic as its viewers. The art I make is a tool, as a hammer or a sword is, to be used in any way that the user sees fit, I can only dictate the limitations of the tool I have made, and hone its quality so that It can be more effective in bringing about the results and truths the user wants from it.
9. What inspire you in a building or in a wall in general? And in this quarry?
I love challenges when encountering a public space. I like ladders that are too short, and windows that are too big. I like paint that runs out, and daylight that is fading as you need to finish that last line. I like getting all the wrong color house paints by mistake, and not being able to fit my initial idea onto the wall. THese are what makes painting new and fun. These are the challenges that make the piece different and push me to grow as an artist. Sure, the fewer things that go wrong the better, but the more that go wrong, the more opportunity I have to make something new. I think that this quarry is a human and distinct opportunity unlike one I have ever had. I am very sure it will have its challenges, and in return its rewards. I have already begun to refer to it as my “Germinal” (Zola) challange to friends- as I am sure the adversity that this point. I hope to grow, and to bring something new to Italy that I have not ever created before.
10. You had a recent show in Milan.
So, what do you thik about our country?
I love Italy. My Mothers side of the family is Calabrese, so I feel connected with the land. I love the literature, the history, the geography, the people, the food and the art. I would love to move there one day If I could get a visa, I consider it the best place in earth, and it has no shortage of masters and inspirations to keep me challenged for the rest of my life. It is also my dream to meet and have a coffee with Umberto Eco, I am a huge Fan of his, and this would make Italy even more irresistible. Maybe I will have to sneak into one of his lectures while I am there.