Sunday, March 25, 2007

Art Space Talk: Davide Grazioli

I recently interviewed artist Davide Grazioli. Mr. Grazioli is a nomadic artist moving through the most diverse media, ranging from painting to embroidery, from digital works to sculptures. Grazioli’s ever changing work seems to incorporate many identities reflecting the globalist observer point of view.

The composite identity of this artist is not merely related to his geographical background in the traditional sense but it is more appropriately related to his diverse and distant experiences and to the choice of releasing his works each time in different places. This constant search for ambivalence and ubiquity allows the artist to pose questions about the"identities in transition" that so much characterize our world today.

Mr. Grazioli is represented by nt art gallery- Bologna. I'd like to personally thank Nadia Toffaloni for helping during the translation process- ( ).

Q. You are represented by the nt art gallery. How has that experience been for you? What is the website for the gallery?

A. "The experience with nt art gallery has been extremely satisfying. I have felt free to express myself and supported at all times. The gallery web site is"

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "It was when I realised that I had become the assistant of a senior Italian leading artist, called Aldo Mondino (born Torino - Italy 1938) that I met at a small exhibition of mine in 1998 in Milan."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "Totally. Any of my works is a reaction to some aspects of society as for example in my latest series of incense sculptures portraying the endangered species threatened by human behaviour."

Q. On average, how long does it take you to create a piece?

A. "From 1 minute to 1 year!"

Q. Can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

A. "As an artist I perceive the work mainly as being available. One must be silent enough to listen and absorb a vision of the world before giving it back. To me in particular art is about undressing from my individual identity in order to perceive something of what is universal.

I personally do not feel my role as an artist as actor but mostly as acted.

I do not like to be the focus of my works instead I try to peak aspects of experiences that I had and share them only if they can be representative for a major phenomenon. The works in which I physically appear are not intended to represent myself. They are rather allegories of a certain number of westerners. I think that today’s artists have a peculiar chance to portray identities in transition. And anything transient in a broad sense is the objective of my work."

Q. Has your art ever been published?

"Yes, several times in catalogues, articles in art magazines. See a selected press coverage in my web site "

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

A. "Probably my exhibition titled "Accidental Occidental", that I held in August 2003 in Madras (India). This is one of my dearest experiences, because for the first time I managed to perceive that Asia and India in particular was about to conquer a crucial role in today’s world and again for the first time I felt allowed to act in a global perspective, crossing the boundaries of my former cultural background. This attitude towards artistic creation has become in these years the main characteristic of my artistic approach.

For that exhibition I spent many months in Madras and this long-term stay offered me access to unconventional media, which I could never think of before. To show my perception of the complexity of Indian changing society for the occasion I exhibited works in multiple media, one next to the other. Bronze sculptures were close to digital prints. Light-boxes in a space that I previously covered in palm leaves. But the central part of the exhibition was represented by the paintings I realised with (and through) the advertising billboard painters of Madras.
In that occasion I took the chance to show the ability of these disappearing commercial artists using them as a real media. So I asked them to translate some of my images into enamel on tin paintings. The result was very interesting because it was impossible to me to repeat the artistic action without them and at the same time they were going to be jobless very soon (today all the ones I met have already disappeared. Their skill have been replaced by digital print).
In general the exhibition was about portraying the unique feature of the Indian contemporary world that comprehends many velocities and many layers at the same time from the rural to the hyper technological from the spiritual to the materialistic."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "I don’t. No ritual would work twice in my face. As I work on differences, on the "other" and on the "elsewhere", my only ritual is pushing myself into a long term travel. This almost automatically gives me the urge of releasing some kind of work in an emergency studio. It is through the outside that I reconnect to the unity. Movement is crucial for me. Nothing else ever triggered my ideas."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "Very open."

Q. Discuss your art. What are you thinking when you create it?

A. "For example before creating the incense sculptures I was thinking that I needed to express the fragility and impermanence of the ecological balance. So, I was looking for a medium that was transient but connected to the mystery of spirituality. Due to perfect chance I happened (during a trip) to encounter a man who produced organic incense. In that moment I realised the trip offered me the media I was looking for."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "I have a degree in science of communication which is a combination of visual communication, semiotic and linguistic. This gave me the chance of a transversal approach to art not been too academic but in general the most important lesson I learnt from relationships. The encounter and work with my former Master was the most the most valuable lesson."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "As I said before in a joke: "They chose me"."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

A. "You can visit my web site that works as an archive: Next update with the latest series of embroideries made in Vietnam will be on April 1st 2007."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "The good part is that I see many different trends co-existing at the same time. And this is a kind of richness for society. The bad thing is that I perceive a deliberate intention- on many occasions- works soaked in cynicism that sometime show no intension of search."

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "Not yet but I think I came very close, when I portrayed a mixture of Indian and outer Gods merged in one single image. That required a lot of explanations."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "Dealing with "rock-bottoms" is something every artist knows about but it is not just something negative. The tough periods are the ones that mostly awaken an artist’s mind. It is through and thanks to these periods that I managed to elaborate my view. In general for young artists it is always tough because initially nobody legitimates your work.
One of the most important skills to develop is endurance. In general I think that society has a peculiar way of defending itself trying to keep you in the mainstream as soon as one decides to make his/her living out this passion immediately all the social support around him/her stops. That’s the first price that you must be prepared to pay when you decide to be an artist."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "Because I have to."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "I am an Italian from Milan and I just moved to Berlin. This city is very fertile and full of cultural inspiration. The artistic panorama is very heterogeneous and rich."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "In a way my work against the poaching of the last 5000 tigers destined to the fuel the traditional Chinese medicine has been considered a political one."

Q. Does religion, faith, or the lack there of play a part in your art?

A. "A crucial part. But I will let my works answer this question."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "Nothing else. Thank you for the interview."
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Davide Grazioli. Feel free to critique or discuss his work.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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