PLEASE TELL US YOUR STORY. WHO IS ETSOM? WHERE DOES YOUR ARTISTIC INCLINATION COME FROM?
I’ve had a naturally evolving path, I have always followed my inclinations. I started drawing at a very your age and I never had any doubt that somehow I would have made a career out of it. If somebody asked me “what do you want to be when you grow up?” as a child, I would have said that I wanted to be a painter in life! I had not yet discovered what sprays were, when in middle school I saw one of my classmates ‘tagging’ in his diary. He told me that his brother taught him to do it. That gesture, that’s still difficult to understand for many people, literally captured me for the simplicity with which my friend was able to express himself and his personality, through a code that was special for a teenager precisely because it was understandable to few. From that moment, while studying at an art school, I started to discover the world of graffiti, which for years followed a completely separate path from what drawing and painting represented for me. Two totally different languages and purposes. It was only after about ten years that I decided to try to fuse the technique I had acquired in using sprays with my skills in figurative drawing, and it was like a new beginning. I felt I had found my way to express myself and above all the need to confront myself with an audience through my art.
WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF STREET ART?
It is difficult to find a 'short' definition of it, but street art is certainly not only 'on the street'. In my opinion, the big difference with other 'traditional' art forms, and also with graffiti itself, is precisely the intentions with which the artists approach public spaces and thus the people. When I intervene in an urban context, I cannot fail to take into account that my work will in some way change the everyday life of a variable number of people who, for one reason or another, will engage with it. Unlike a museum, in which works are only and exclusively displayed for those who will choose to see them, the street presents itself as a gallery that is constantly open to a public that will also in some sense experience the imposition of art. This is what leads me to create works that are able to communicate with the public, that contain recognisable elements, that are able to exploit the enormous potential of such great visibility. Hence, for me street art is not just 'on the street', but 'for the street', meaning the people who frequent certain public spaces. This characteristic becomes an enormous inspiration to give life to an active confrontation between the artist and the world, with new and interesting methods and languages.
WHAT IS THE ARTISTIC APPROACH USED TO CREATE YOUR ARTWORKS?
The language I use is the representation, mostly realistic, of simple and recognisable subjects. I try to approach the public through the creation of aesthetically pleasing works, capturing their attention through beauty rather than using provocation or scandal. Simple compositions do not necessarily mean poor or empty in terms of meaning. That is why I always try to enrich my subjects with references and symbolic elements, which can bring further meanings and give rise to more possible interpretations. Precisely because, as I said, I create murals that aim to relate to people, it is my intention to give life to something that at a superficial look can already provide a reference, but that at a closer look reveals a more complex and structured storyline. To give an example, in the tree composition I created in Conflenti (CZ) one can catch a glimpse of a robin and appreciate its beauty, its colours, its play of light and shadow. But a deeper inspection will reveal the presence of oak leaves, strongly linked to the tradition of the place: I provide hints but obviously the key lies in the eyes of the beholder.
WHICH MESSAGE DO YOU WANT TO CONVEY THROUGH YOUR WORKS?
I do not always try to convey the same message through my works, but if I had to find a common thread that links my pieces, my subjects definitely have a double interpretation that invites the viewer to reflect on the fact that there is no single point of view from which to observe reality. Subjects that we normally observe in their overall view, such as a flower, in the artwork Petali are represented so that the focus is placed more on the single components, the petals, which give the flower a new meaning. In general, I try to create images that invite people to reflect through simple cues that can lead to a deeper reasoning. If I choose to represent an owl made up of a combination of leaves and flowers, what will be the reason for my choice? Obviously, since it is not 'just' an owl, or 'just' leaves, there must be more to it... the moment I can lead the viewer to share a reasoning with me, the work can be said to be effective!
THERE ARE SEVERAL REASONS AS TO WHY YOUNG ARTISTS CHOOSE WALLS AS CANVAS. INDEED, STREET ART WAS ORIGINALLY BORN AS AN ART FORM TO CRITICISE SOCIETY. DO YOU THINK THIS ‘CLASSIC’ DEFINITION OF A STREET ARTISTS FITS YOU?
Although I do not consider my artworks to be particularly 'ground-breaking', I think that even in the pursuit of an aesthetically pleasing work, an artist should never be content with creating a decoration as an end in itself. In the specific case of public art, the communicative and expressive potential given by the visibility and size of the works are too great to just be conceived as an 'embellishment'. As much as I think that creating a work of art on a bare wall is a noble and important gesture of care, I also think that is a bit of a waste to just create an aesthetic piece. I have never had the impression that you can change the fate of a neighbourhood just by painting a wall, but such a grand gesture must be an opportunity to bring a discussion to the table, to ensure that the energy of change does not end with a coat of paint on a wall.
LET’S TALK ABOUT TWO VERY IMPORTANT CONCEPTS FOR INDIPENDENT ARTISTS: THAT OF ART AND FREEDOM. WHAT DO THEY MEAN TO YOU?
These are two very meaningful words for me and two concepts that I have chosen in life to pursue through my greatest passion, which I have turned into a profession that would allow me to continue pursuing my goals and inclinations doing what I do best. Over time I have discovered that this journey does not revolve solely around drawing, and painting walls, but around the experiences, getting to know places and people, stories, and lives. It is precisely these experiences that make me feel free because they allow me, day after day, to broaden my horizons and embrace new ideas, to discover what lies outside the boundaries I know, and at the same time to take with me an experience to share along the way. The freedom that my work gives me simply allows me to continue doing it and it is a goal that will always be important to me, in maintaining a balance that is not always easy but that is making me grow as a person and as an artist.
by RICCARDO AIMERITO
for DARE CLAN