notes

07/06/2013

ARTIS DIVERSIS INTERVIEW

J.B.
The reason of my appreciation of your artwork is, that your are able in a very consistent, accurate, sensible and extremely fine way, to extract from the real word your micro cosmos of motifs, of moments, of physical details, particles, putted together as a mirror, that replay an entire world behind!
What are the priorities for you by selecting this atoms from the real world for conceiving your ideas?

R.P.

Hi Johann, it’s a pleasure for me to resume our talks about art and I appreciate your kind interest in my works. I see your questions are more focused on the way I identify, select and create my works. Compared to our past interview I will go into more detail in order to address those questions with more precision. Let’s begin!
Looking at the past, I realize that I always organized my works in series, aware of the fact that a single image would only partially express the reality I investigate. An investigation not only intended of works of photography and painting (virtual), but especially of perception. I see my work as sifting reality through technology and technics, connecting myself with the history of the places where I live or travel.
Series immediately became the tool to tell a whole story, to bind together the different works, to develop a concept in a more elaborate way (often including tributes and excerpts from other artists) and address conveniently the object of my research.
The object is always the same: the human being. The means of investigation is architecture, and more broadly the city, seen as the organization of social life in a multi-layered, artificial environment. This approach to cities is one of analysis of its construction, and it’s a mirror of the human tensions, all of this seen in a palace façade or a high-school
Based on my studies on visual perception, an image becomes relevant to me when it matches a particular set of parameters, follows specific rules and carries an intellectual content. In contemporary art the content of an image is very often shouted, so much so that eventually content prevails over image resembling the mechanism at the basis of advertising: shock.
But “we are science, not science-fiction” (as it used to say in the 90s a commercial of a well-known maker of television sets), and I like to think that the “western” vision of reality already includes a sum of cultural characters.
By means of a conveniently restricted number of selected points of view, processed through technology and techniques, I try to give back to the audience the aesthetic character of a city (and more in general of “the city”).
In other words I consider myself, and all other artists, as an expression and intellectual filter through which one can discover and absorb the reality (and the city) by the means of lines, colors and materials.
The styles of the painting language can be, and always have been, many: informal, realistic, ironic, poetic, symbolic, hermetic. Arts history testifies in an incomparable way the human evolution because a work of art speaks of who and what we are, what historic context we live in. The micro and the macro, the virtualization of the image (the very moment I look at a photograph, a graphic layout, a movie, a drawing, a painting), the three-dimensionality of the material I paint on, my personal view on the world, these are my humble contribution to the greater system.

J.B.
This ability to handle contrasts between the macro and micro, between raw and filigree, I mean, simply between opposites, but armed with the magnificent traditional Italian rules conceiving and allocating of layered compositional objects on the canvas, is something that establish your contemporaneous artwork in a most elevated value system.
Please explain me some details about, how you determine how much you have to insert from each or other component, how you dispense the elements of your compositions ?

R.P.

Since the first known prehistoric cave paintings, it is obvious that drawing is certainly one of the most ancient form of communication.
Those cave paintings are based on the juxtaposition of three tones: bright (highlights), dark (shadows and outlines) and neutral (the raw material) also called mid-tones, which is for me the basis of composition.

Without meaning to summarize art history to just a couple of sentences, nothing has changed since those prehistoric times, because of the human eye and how it works. Our perception of the reality (and hence the rules by which we portray it) ultimately is based on this very simple principle.
The transition from light to mid-tone and then darkness can be gradual, sharp or soft and has been rendered in infinite variants in painting, but the basic concept is always the same.
Examples of this can be found in every art history course. For my part I studied in Pisa and Florence and I noticed that the way I understand the image has been clearly influenced by Mastro Rainaldo, Bonanno Giovanni Pisano of the Duomo di Pisa, his basic but magnificent sculpture, sometimes made only with a hand-drill on marble (the floral decoration of the columns at the front of both the cathedral and the baptistery have all been made exclusively with a hand-drill around 1180, beautiful!).
I have been influenced by the Florentine school, especially the early Renaissance, the quattrocento: the sensitivity for the balance and the movement in the composition, the humble materials, the harmony and the weight of the different elements, all of this I owe to Florence.
The point of view is never “central” in my works (same as in the works of Paolo Uccello, Piero della Francesca, etc.) because perspective is not the subject, it’s just a consequence and it is not aimed at amazing the viewer, but at keeping the work within the laws of figurative representation. The theme of balance is also very important, even for artists that are not figurative, think for example of the works by Pollock, Rotchko or Morlotti.
To sum-up, in my works I mix techniques and technologies that nowadays I can use and master, and at the same time I rediscover the education in pictorial composition that I acquired throughout my life, altered by the new experiences of being connected with the city I am depicting.
I cannot and it’s not important to precisely describe the process I use to select the sensory stimulus I then propose in my works. As I was influenced during my education by certain stimulus, every person in the world is also “educated” by other stimulus, undoubtedly related to the culture of the city and the habitat they see or saw during their childhood. Every culture is connected with the others, even to those that seem too far away. I simply try to expose this concept.

J.B.
Honestly as I saw for the first time in my life, in 2011, the paletts as support for your messages in your studio in Suvereto, I had used after the visit, about 2-3 days to be able to be familiarized with this idea. But in short time I discovered the so impressive effects between light and shadows, the periodically interruption of the applied and/or transferred content by the slats and the fact that looking today on your paintings the first what I see is not the palette itself, but the whole complexity of the artwork and his expression. All this in contrast rich components, are interacting together in synergy and to produce an harmonious equilibrated entity.
Do you think that you achieved already the culmination with this idea, or we as follower your artwork development, will be surprised with similar or other news in the future?

R.P.

I think the pallet, as a support for my paintings, still is worth further research, for various reasons. First of all it’s a very contemporary material, incredibly widespread all around the world and a distinctive product of our society, our economy.
The pallet also allows me to play with the laws of perception, thanks to the gaps between its planks. The laws I refer to, are those of the Gestalt in the first place, and of the research on visual perception later: I play with the unconscious mechanism that automatically completes the visual message, even when a part of the image in the visual stimulus is missing.
Above all, the pallet is a noticeably three-dimensional object, I have to balance the elements of the two-dimensional composition of the painting with its extra dimension. A little bit like Picasso (that ideally sits after Cezanne and before Mondrian) with cubism, with the significant difference that the two elements, the pallet and the painting, form a whole, while still preserving their own separate identities: the virtual and the objective (but right now I won’t develop further on this subject).
The pallet is alive. I have to search for one, then I polish it, I apply the filler, I prepare it to receive the paint, I draw on it, I paint on it, but after all it will always change with time. It will move, it will dry because it probably got rain, sun and moisture, that seasoned it. The gnarls will pop and come out, it will always have a life of its own and nobody can foresee how it will be like in thirty, or a hundred years. I am fascinated by the idea that the work and the ideas I lay on the wood may faint and, over time, become just a fragile trace of my passage.
Going back to Florence and the early Renaissance, the pallet relates to the tempera on wood and the great altar pieces of those times.
During my studies in Buenos Aires, right in the midst of the Argentine economic crisis, I found that the railway station of Constituciòn was the perfect symbolic representation of the nostalgic decadence, with a south American flavor, the ideal subject to portray the passage from the twentieth century to the new millennium. I used Kraft paper and timber framing, I experimented with inks and cementite and there were the “stations”.
A few years later, after a two-year artist residence in Prague, and spending quite a while between New York and Paris, I linked together nature and architecture, with the series of the trees. This time using black or white paper, glued on canvas. We are in the middle of the night (almost three am) and I am painting a nocturnal scene, only lights on black pallets. Dawn will come…

J.B.
From other point of view the fine detailed graphic structures of the trees, or the architectural façade details, the steel structures with their filigree elements, the graphic font, letters, written words, extracted from your surrounding, are the proof of your affine soul and high intellectual personality.
Do you use your capabilities in Book design, Calligraphy or for Printmedia design too?

R.P.

I am very fond of graphic design. I always considered it important, beginning with the comic books of my childhood (which I re-discovered in the wooden floor of the Cathedral of Siena and in the Department of Prints and Drawings of Uffizi or at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan which holds among others some wonderful drawings by Dürer) then becoming a real passion during my engraving classes, first at the Florence Academy of Arts, then at the Facultad de Bella Artes in Granada and La Plata where the scholarship was precisely for Grabado y Arte Impreso.
In Argentine I learnt how to mix technology, which at that time was a photographic camera, a photocopier and a myriad of different techniques. In those years I added to the traditional techniques that I already mastered since the times in Florence and Granada (metal engraving), many others, such as screen printing, lithography, until I found in xylography a new passion for wood. And also a passion for artists’ books. I published a book, made of 21 woodcut prints, thanks to the Edizioni Il Feltro of Rome, with the title of “three stories”.
There’s no doubt that my fondness of graphic design is visible in my works, it actually is at the root. When I photograph the signs in the urban landscape, writings and signs display the historic period they belong to and contribute in a substantial way to define the character of a city (for example in New York and in the 1930s in Italy, the font type is the Futura, even if slightly modified).
Anyway, even if I have some graphic design knowledge, I am not a graphic designer in the strict sense of the words. I regret it, but I think graphic design is quite a difficult profession and I prefer to rely on very valuable graphic designer friends, that have always taken care of publishing and printing for me. We had a lot of fun together, inventing a new typeface and a number of wine labels, long time ago, just for the pleasure of a toast together.

J.B.
It is not easy for me, to pick up one example of artwork because for me one of yours, need the neighbourhood of the other one as complementary artwork too. Each one complete the other one. I take an integrative look on your whole art language evaluating in the holistic way. For this reason is your square presentations on your website ideal for me to receive this holistic overview and an imagination about your capabilities.
Can you tell me about, what are the recorded echo's from your website visitors?

R.P.

Yes Johann, the web site was thought to be an archive since its birth, in 2006. Thanks to the help of the graphic designers I was telling you about, I began analyzing my requirements and setting up a container that was going to hold the content I was going to put into it, little by little. Being my work already organized in series, it was easy for the designers to develop the different pages, in fact we already made a first web site together, in 2001.
The web site has two different menus: one to find information, another one for the archives. This second menu is organized to logically streamline the whole body of work. From selected series of photographs to the series of paintings, that eventually become exhibitions. For some exhibitions there’s also a gallery of photos shot by friends at the opening. Every exhibition has an invitation flyer, a press release, sometimes the catalogue (downloadable) and the press reviews.
I thought of arranging everything in a way that gives a feeling of continuity and method and at the same time offers a good level of service to the public. I thought that whoever were interested in finding more information, would find all is here, at their fingertips. On the other hand the casual browsers would have a general idea of my work but not in an annoying or invasive display. Visitors are certainly not in the millions, but not that few either, keeping in mind we are talking of a personal web site. Most visitors stop at the first page, perhaps just to see where the next exhibition will be. In any case there is a newsletter that is sent to everyone registered, every time there’s a new exhibition.


Looking at the details, for example on the series PARIS S'ÉVEILLE, UNITED COLORIAGES OF MARSEILLE, the CHE PALLETT exhibition, the Alex Schlesinger Exhibition, with the so expressive trees in foreground or the GESTALT, man is very fast in a position to discover the absolutely highlights of your multilateral creativity! Riccardo I say thank you very much for your time and so interesting talking with you!