HOW DID YOU GET INTO STREET ART AND WHAT TECHNIQUE DID YOU CHOOSE TO MASTER?
I started painting graffiti in '96, back when street art did not exist yet, there was only writing, and it was not socially well regarded. It was mainly illegal painting, apart from a few jams (gatherings of graffiti writers where they made massive murals all together). In '99, in Rome, I met three other artists, and we decided to create a crew (a group of writers who decided to paint together), we called it 180 because 180 bpn was the beat of techno music. At that time the illegal rave party’s phenomenon was exploding, and we used to attend them and paint in the warehouses that were occupied from time to time. Moreover, the 180 was also the Basaglia law that put an end to the asylum institution. With this we wanted to pay homage to the madness that seemed to unite all the writing artists of the time.
By the end of the 2000s we began to see the first stencils by Banksy, by Sten in Rome and the first large murals by Blu, a different way of approaching art in the urban context began to take shape. So, I too made my first attempts to evolve my style as a writer into something more like figurative art and illustration, to put a message into what I painted on the street. From there, a journey began that led me to develop an entirely personal language and some subjects that later became iconic in my work (such as the jellyfish with DNA).
WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF STREET ART?
I do not think we can give a definition of “street art” that can include all forms of art that are made in the streets. “Street art” is defined as either the stencil that is made illegally on the street, or the large wall commissioned by a public authority, up to the art object placed in an urban context. Today this term is misused to define all these forms of art, so I think the more appropriate definition of these is “urban art”. As far as I am concerned, it is not the medium that matters, but the way in which you reach the goal to communicate something to an audience that is not necessarily the one interested in galleries and art museum exhibitions.
CAN IT ONLY BE CREATED IN THE STREET/OPEN SPACES?
Yes. Generally, I always create my works in the street, but it has also happened that I have been commissioned to create works in private, indoor spaces. However, in these contexts, the approach to the work changes so radically that it becomes something different that I do not think can be called urban art.
I also work in the studio where I always paint replicas or originals of the subjects I take to the street, but that is another matter.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE CONTEXT?
Context is fundamental. I’ve been asked to create large murals in particular places and in such instances, I have always tried to relate both to the area in which the work was to be placed and to its inhabitants. I tried to convey something that belonged to them to make the work a collective process rather than something imposed by the artist without confrontation or dialogue. When I can, I always try to study the context from an architectural and social-historical point of view so that what I paint also tell a little about the place that hosts my work.
WHAT DO INDEPENDENCE AND FREEDOM MEAN TO YOU?
It is important for me not to have stylistic and creative constraints. I often refuse requests because they don't fit my language and style or because I don't share the client's values.
YOUR SUBJECTS OFTEN DEPICT DAILY MOMENTS, THE SWEETNESS BETWEEN A MOTHER AND CHILD, BETWEEN TWO LOVERS... WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?
My source of inspiration is never the same. It can be anything, a news broadcasted, something that caught my eye in the streets, or a particular thought that upsets or fascinates me. I try to tell what I feel and experience every day, to seep into my drawings the feelings I have or see in the people I meet. I must say that mine is a very emotional approach to art and that unlike many street artists, my message is not always of criticism or protest. I don't like to follow trends just to gain visibility, what I create is authentic and comes from my innermost reflections on the relationships between people and my inner reality.
DNA AND JELLYFISH OFTEN FEATURE IN YOUR WORKS, WHAT MEANING DO THEY HAVE FOR YOU?
The jellyfish has always fascinated me as a primordial being, it is a very simple organism, but very elegant in its shape and movements. For me, it represents the origin of life on our planet, and it’s precisely to emphasise this concept that I chose to include the DNA strand in the tail. Moreover, the jellyfish reminds me of our connection with all beings on earth and the message I would like to convey with this subject is about respect and deep empathy for nature where we all come from.
WHAT SHOULD AN ARTIST DARE TO DO?
I firmly believe that experimentation is essential in art. I often see established artists fossilising on certain subjects or techniques just because they are successful. Daring can also mean exploring new paths, having the courage to make mistakes and then start again with a new wealth of knowledge and experience. Art for me is something that is constantly evolving and changing. The idea of not knowing what I will get to do in the future is precisely what fascinates me in art.
by RA / RC
for DARE CLAN