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Artist Interview: Gianluca Capaldo


Why do you paint?

My real approach to the world of art happened when I was around 18 years old. Generally speaking, I always had some kind of artistic inclination, with a particular predisposition for drawing. However, my journey into the world of painting began after I graduated from senior high school, with my enrolment in the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.

I noticed right from the beginning that my creative mood had a realistic tone, so I channelled all my efforts into acquiring a solid technique, based on the study of reality. Influences from the old masters and great Western Classical Art have proved to be fundamental to my own path of artistic development.

My primary source of inspiration is Figurative Art from the 19th century, from Romanticism to Realism: Ingres, Waterhouse, Morelli, Hayez, Bouguereau and so on... but I don’t deny a quick look at the artists from the 16th and 17th centuries.

To me, painting is a medium for reflection and generating knowledge and awareness, above all, self-awareness. Each and every work is like an introspective journey into my subconscious, something which emerges from deep within and finally manifests itself in the light. In this way, when I reach an understanding of something about myself, I experience a feeling of incredible satisfaction. On the other hand, however, lack of understanding brings me frustration.

Is there a core philosophy or message in your work?

The scenes portrayed in my works are the result of complex and premeditated architecture, but the messages they transmit aren’t confined to a predetermined story, actually their meaning is connected to multiple stories found in ancient myths, already present in our DNA and our collective consciousness.

My painting is evocative and leaves space for personal interpretation for every one of us. Most of the time my work begins with a suggestion or a feeling which is translated in my mind into a scene that goes through a certain development process and is finally summoned onto the canvas surface.

What is your method?

My design process almost always starts with a little sketch, which serves to set out the idea. Here is where the most instinctive part of the creative process ends. Subsequently, every detail is studied and developed through the study and drawing of life models and real objects. When the dimensions, the colours and the composition of the work have been defined, the real painting process can start. I principally use oil paints on canvases which I prepare myself with chalk and adhesive. I try to be as quick as possible in the execution of a work because I never want to lose the freshness of my original ideas to the passing of time.

I don't have a specific rule or a formula for understanding when a painting is finished, I simply realise at a certain point that to continue would make no sense and that it’s time to move on to my next project. I have to admit that I'm never completely satisfied with the result, nevertheless, this stimulates me to reach even further with my work, to reach new heights.

Where do you feel your ideas, inspirations or visions for a work come from?

When I create a work I try to deal with my ideas rationally. However, when I observe the final result, I often perceive that external forces have intervened, often acting outside my control. The “fire” of creativity can surely be nourished, but not dominated and if for some reason it turns off by itself, all one can do is wait for it to turn itself back on.

I don't think there is a substantial difference between what I am and what I do. My works are simply the reflection of myself, my innermost self, my true identity. If my poetic expression evolves it's because I'm evolving as well. Painting is equivalent to communicating with, looking at and coming to know myself.

How do you explain the evolution in your work?

There's not really a final objective in all of this, that would mean drawing a finish line at the end of a path. I don't want to establish any boundaries or limits, nor an end to my art. Neither can I see a specific end for myself. Of course, some will argue that death actually exists but what really interests me is what comes after. And the beauty in art, undeniably existing throughout all the ages, is the manifestation of the hidden truth behind our existence.

What are the responsibilities of an artist?

The main responsibility of an artist is to always be faithful to him or herself. Whoever indulges the audience or gallerists's tastes may be able to fill their bank accounts, but it will kill their very soul. Despite the fact that throughout history the instruments of power, politics and the economy have strongly influenced the lives and thoughts of many artists, they are all forces against art’s free nature. Nowadays, European politics and especially Italian politics, are almost dead, they serve only the economic interests of the elite. Because of that, not even a glimpse of it can be seen in my work.

At the moment I consider myself a free artist because I have managed to build a life that is not economically dependent on my paintings and I hope to maintain this balance forever, even if to do so is a great challenge.

Artist Gianluca Capaldo

Italian contemporary Art.

What are your thoughts about the position and visibility of Italian contemporary art in the international context? What does Italian Contemporary Art have to offer that is unique in today’s market?

Currently in Italy there exists a complex and fragmented artistic scenario that is not easy to decipher. I don’t pretend to be an expert but I can tell that we live in a situation where the marketplace has reached a standstill, with the exception of high-level collecting. This causes even more stiffness, resulting in great investments only being directed towards already notorious names, excluding up and coming young people. Fine Arts Academies and other artistic centres no longer guarantee a proper education nor do they guarantee subsequent employment. To rise above this sad situation two things are needed: luck and connections. Talent alone is not sufficient and when pitted against it, networking and cunning easily win.

In this day and age, Italian Fine Art is suffering. Political choices being made regarding culture spell disaster but the worst thing, in my opinion, is the lack of a common vision to re-establish a coherent identity, a unified cultural sector. Our tradition is gradually falling into oblivion, leaving our culture for dead. For a country like Italy, forcing Art into the background is a shame, an embarrassment.

Of course there are some Italian artists who have received praise and recognition in the international context but their emergence comes from the outside, from abroad; only afterwards are they welcomed with all the due honours in their own country. Despite so many difficulties, Italian artists have a lot to give but they must find their own strength and persistence to affront the challenges that lay ahead.

What are your thoughts on large scale international online sales platforms such as www.saatchiart.com?

The big online art world is a double-edged sword. On one hand these online platforms offer the potential for great visibility in an extremely wide context but on the other hand, this context is so huge that attempts for visibility can easily fall flat and unobserved. Many people praise the opportunities the world wide web offers today. The advantages are clearly there but do we really need it on the whole, when we reflect on the disadvantages that this world brings with it? I'd like to step back to reality, which in my opinion it's already too virtual.

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