Artwork’s Title: Two by Two
Materials Used: steel, potassium sulfide, casting sand, foam, jesmonite, sand
Studio Based: London, United Kingdom
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
I consider the making process of my works as a personal procedure that stages a dialogue between elements of the past and the present which become intertwined with a grotesque theatricality, grappling with the history of tradition, and the possibility of my body as an insurgent to it. I am a multidisciplinary artist interested in researching traditional crafts and ancient workings of wood, iron, marble, etc as well as a process of protecting a heritage that could be lost. I am also strongly influenced by the customs and traditions of my land, Sicily, and often the places and experiences of my childhood serve as inspiration for realizing my works.
How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
Nostalgic, Theatrical, Personal.
How did you come up with the idea of ‘Two by Two’ (2023)? Is there any story behind this artwork?
Each artwork that I make come side by side with a specific narrative and concept. While working on ‘Two by Two’, I was researching the dynamics that characterize the connection between sensation and spectacle. ‘Two by two’ is a battleground where two wolves are fighting each other in a continuous circle being at the same time prey and victim. Their space is delimited by a metal base creating a barrier with the surrounding space and transforming the scene into a stage for the viewers. The arrows on the wolves’ back, reminding of the old-style ring toss game, are an invitation to the public to interact with it by throwing the rings to catch them. In the desperate fight for living, the two animals become game and prey for outsiders.
Observing your artworks and installations, it seems that there is an artistic interplay with specific body parts such legs and feet; they are usually variously portrayed bold, uncanny and dynamic, regardless their size (small or big, short or tall). If that applies to your artistry, what does really motivate you to get involved into this body representation?
My art-making processes are often influenced by my past education and work within animation and drawing, whereby motion and character-design are utilized to create captivating compositions and silhouettes. I am interested in the role that exaggeration and absurdity cover in our society and everyday life and by researching this I borrow elements typical of animation like exaggerates volumes ad distorted body parts. This also, give a sense of dynamisms to my works that seems almost they’re moving and creates a visual connection with the viewer.
Various animals seem to dominate your sculptures such as ‘Cavallo Blu’ (2022), ‘Leaving Dog’ (2021) or ‘La Lupa è stata ferita’ (2020). Beside their bold size, these structures provide a theatrical movement through their enlarged body shape; is there any sort of fascination, or particular motif with a deeper meaning or interest to you as an artist?
The structures that these works have is a link with the Sicilian puppet opera, a specific kind of vagabond theater that emerged in the 18th century in southern Italy. Their silhouettes are built using different layers of flat surfaces, creating emphasis on the role that shadows play in the composition. Each of these works, of course, has a story and concept behind but I used animal-like silhouettes as a vehicle to express vices and virtues of human behaviors. The colors used are one of the traditional Sicilian play cards.
Human-like characters visually showcase a sort of monstrous and powerful appearance in paintings such as ‘Siamo in due’ (2023), ‘Vento’ (2021) or ‘Runner’ (2020). What’s your perspective behind your non-animalistic protagonists?
Human-like characters in my works are silhouettes in action, grotesque and symbol of ambiguity represented in awkward poses accentuated by their giant bodies. Yet, a queer narrative pulsates through the stories and symbols, where by the rampant machismo inflected within the strong Catholic culture of Italy its thwarted and disrupted by the depiction of hyper-masculine figures engaging in homoerotic scenes, with feminised features in my work.
Do specific artworks have been created by random experiments in your studio or do you always come up with a particular concept or narrative in the very beginning?
I guess it depends. In the last period, I usually come up with a specific concept that leads me to experiment with materials. But I like to think that the two process move together side by side; It happened that I got inspired by the texture or the colors of a specific plant or stone and this allowed me to build a narrative around it or vice versa, it happened also that the idea guided me to the search for the materials. I like to leave this process as open as I can and have the freedom to change things during the work in progress.
What would be the best way to exhibit your work?
I consider my works as visual micro-narratives. Tracing a link between the world of stop-motion and large-scale theatrical sets, they place themselves somewhere between a sculptural and a performative dimension. I find that the visual impact that the sculpture and, even more, so the installation, have on the viewer is a very powerful vehicle of communication, and for this reason, I usually work on a big scale. I guess the best way to display my works is the one that comes more naturally and even though I know this is cliché, it does depend on the space and interaction I want to create with the public. I like the freedom of having a whole empty room to work with and seeing how the narrative is born within the space.
Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
Fausto Melotti, Dimitris Papaioannou, Sarah Woodfine, Orfeo Tagiuri, Einar Baldvin, Konstantinos Lianos, Jesse Pollock.
What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?
I would say that I spend most of my time between the wood workshop and metal workshop, places where most of my making occurs. The studio is usually where the last process of experimentation happens, especially in London as my studio doesn’t allow me to work on a big scale. It is in the South and luckily it is close both to the workshops and the house. I am schematic in my studio and I use part of it as storage space for finished works and materials collected from Sicily and the rest of it is the actual working space. I also have a long desk as my practice involves drawing and sketching. Every few months I go back to Sicily where I am lucky enough to have my studio in my house where, having it all for myself, I have space for working on a bigger project.
Which are your plans for the near future?
I will graduate from Goldsmiths in 2024 so I plan to stay in London until then at least. Recently I have been thinking of moving back to Italy at some point after graduation but nothing concrete at this stage. Ideally, I would like to move somewhere smaller and quieter than London and let myself be inspired by the surrounding landscape but never say never.
All images courtesy of the artist