CONVERSATION

Matteo Giuntini

The Diary of Matteo Giuntini, Italian artist. An eclectic and creative painter, interpreter of the contemporary world. Welcome to Caleido, an inspirational diary, that narrates many stories: about creative people, trends, travels, objects. / Read the Editor’s letter here

 

Diary of: @matteogiuntini

caleido intervista matteo giuntini artista
1. When did you actually realise you were an artist? How does one become a professional artist in the contemporary world?

Over the years, I became aware that I could only do well what I felt drawn from inside. When I have finished my studies, partly out of a sense of duty and partly due to circumstance, I’ve tried other paths, such as working in the family business (in the food sector). I shortly realised that this would not be my final occupation, and, in agreement with my parents, I took a break from this activity. It was a sort of ‘leave from work’ that continues to this day. The idea that painting could have become my profession was triggered by an ‘encounter’ with a special place in Livorno. Leafing through a newspaper, I came to know of the existence of an original 18th-century structure, used as an artist’s studio by its original owner. An unusual location, close to the sea, where 28 painters lived together. This place, which could be defined as an ‘academy of history’, allowed me to live a unique life experience: through painting, I began to ‘dig’ inside myself to delve into what was there. During this process of inner exploration, I also realised something else: that to do this job (and I want to call it so, because I consider it a ‘real’ job) you need a lot of time. In fact, an artist must have all the time he needs to observe reality, investigate his deepest self, reflect, explore and create.

caleido intervista matteo giuntini artista

@matteogiuntini

2. Our first ‘meeting’ was in Milan, through one of his works exhibited in a gallery. Then I saved images of his paintings on my phone, and finally I bought one. Basically, I knew you long before I met you. How do you feel about being known without knowing yourself?

It happens very often that my works becomes known before I do; therefore, the first meeting (the one in which you ‘break the ice’) takes place in an art gallery or at an event, almost every single time. This form of encounter, which precedes the one in person, to me, represents an added value as I believe artist’s works to be their true faces. Getting to know me through my works therefore becomes a way of seeing myself in a real light, before actually meeting me. I often develop a very close relationship with my clients, also thanks to digital platforms, which allow us to build and design together despite the distance. These virtual meetings, can lead to very intense, valuable relationships that are transferred into a physical dimension. Digital platforms thus become a tool to facilitate the interconnection between people, which can give life to wonderful and unexpected work.

3. What period are you in?

I have been thinking a lot about Nature, with a capital ‘N’. I don’t mean Nature only in its environmental sense, but I see it as a complex universe that includes all living things: humans, animals, vegetation. I, as a person, am Nature. Such vision it’s reflected in my works, which are dedicated to my fellow human beings and their actions, dealing with themes such as eroticism, relationships between men or women, relationships between animals. While tackling these themes, my works never carry interpretative suggestion or judgement in my works. I love Nature at 360 degrees, including its most animalistic and wild aspects.

caleido intervista matteo giuntini artista
caleido intervista matteo giuntini artista
4. What are some references we should know to better understand your art?

From a pictorial point of view, I am very attracted to medieval paintings, rock graffiti, prehistoric art, old herbaria and art forms that include a material component. Works that cherish a mystical soul capture my attention, such as ancient treaties on plants and all pagan literature where enigmatic, at times even grotesque rituals and rites emerge. In addition, moving away from pictorial art, I am attracted by all those apparently ‘odd’ objects, such as machinery with tangled gears and obsolete agricultural objects, just to mention a few. All these heterogeneous elements create some sort of ‘sauce’: a condiment made from the combination of many different ingredients, which I draw on from time to time to build new stories. Sticking to this parallelism with the world of cooking, I can say that my recipe is always the result of experimentation. But experimentation takes time (the time I mentioned earlier), and only by dedicating yourself entirely to your work, do you understand its value. I say this because sometimes it is also necessary to discard something you have already worked on, to start all over again.

caleido intervista matteo giuntini artista
5. For an artist, stylistic recognition is a key factor. What is your signature? How has your style evolved over time? How did you become aware of this identity?

An artist must have a close relationship with his past. When I look at some of my old works today, they sometimes seem ‘immature’. In the past, I used to observe a lot the style of the great masters (such as Basquiat and his revolutionary sign) of whom I tried to voraciously assimilate everything. With time and the courage to explore unknown paths, I managed to evolve my style thanks to a process of re-elaboration that allowed me to “eat”, “digest” and “spit out” the superfluous. This evolution was the forerunner to develop my own style, which includes elements such as the use of dirty and weathered surfaces, layering and impulsiveness. Mine is a work in continuous evolution, a work in progress, as it is the result of a series of following steps: initially I “attack” the surface in an impulsive way, then I relax and recover a sort of balance that allows me to proceed with observation and refinement.

caleido intervista matteo giuntini artista
6. ‘boredom’ often emerges in your narrative. A feeling I personally used to try to fight, although recently I like to welcome into my deepest self. How is boredom part of you as a person?

For a while I was terrified of boredom, because I perceived it in a negative way. But then I realised that boredom can be an incredible driving force: it generates new things. In boredom lies a unique, hidden force, which is activated in the instant someone starts to fight it. The battle against boredom is a cyclical one, part of a war that will last forever, and one that I love to wage across different phases. Alberto Moravia’s book ‘La noia’ was a revelation for me, he talks about it in a wonderful way, making me realise that we are human beings and therefore alive even thanks to boredom. In addition to the battle against boredom, there is another one I am fighting through my works. I despise discrimination, whether it is racial or sexual, whether it is expressed superficially or more deeply. With my works, I try to express which side I am on, namely the side of Nature and of human beings, who are free to express their personalities. My painting is not political per se, but it is certainly a form of art that celebrates equality and freedom.

caleido intervista matteo giuntini artista
7. I was struck by one of your statements: ‘in intimacy we find ourselves to be free, the domesticated becomes wild and the wild is tamed’. As a lover of ‘beautiful form’, I am intrigued by it. Can you tell us about it?

In my first studio, in Livorno, I began the ‘domestication process’ of myself. Day after day I assumed an increasingly precise form, to then find the perfect frame in the ‘selva domestica’ exhibition. This series accurately describes me, as to me, it represents for me the apotheosis of intimacy, intended as a person’s ability to recover his own vital space where his wildest soul can be freed. A physiological need, that each of us expresses differently: some in the kitchen, others through photography, singing or directing. The theme tackled by “selva domestica” has revealed itself to be nothing short of timely in this 2020, where due to isolation (because of Covid) an army of people have come out of the woodwork, allowing themselves time to explore their passions, unhindered, within their own domestic space.

caleido intervista matteo giuntini artista
caleido intervista matteo giuntini artista

@matteogiuntini

8. Change of roles: you become the gallerist who has to present your work. Which would you start with? How would you describe it?

I would start with “il viaggio dell’uomo con i peli”. It is a large monochromatic work (white on white), measuring 2x3m, created using the technique of engraving with an awl. It always happens like this: after a period in which I create a lot of colourful work, I return to the purity of white to ‘detoxify’ and ‘recharge’. I dedicated this work to my father, one month after his death. When I made it, I felt the need to scratch, to ‘attack’ the surface, and so I did. The conception of that work was the result of a journey back in time, which made me remember an old episode: I was walking to school with a friend, who was challenging me with a competition of <<my daddy has this/that…and yours? Sometimes I felt uncomfortable saying no and so I made up things that my dad didn’t really have. Until one day I turned the tables on him, shutting him up for good: “My dad has hair… what about yours? He’s bald, he’ll never have it. That scene remained engraved in my memory, making me imagine the journey my father would have made towards who knows what kind of life. The work has never been exhibited, as it is a private part of my story.

caleido intervista matteo giuntini artista
caleido intervista matteo giuntini artista
9. What is a record that makes you feel good? One that you would listen to on a loop, a record that suggest we buy on vinyl or add to our playlist? Are you more of a vinyl or Spotify type of person?

Spotify and vinyl coexist in my life. To me, music is a special ingredient that allows me to regain my temporarily lost vital energy. Putting on a record or searching for tracks on Spotify is the first thing I do every morning when I enter the studio. The first record I bought with my own money was ‘Boogadaboogada!’ by US punk band Screeching Weasel. It was ’92 and music soon became one of my great passions, leading me to play punk rock for 10 years. Then, the platter of the player broke and, just because I was too lazy to repair it, I deprived myself of the pleasure of listening to a vinyl. After 15 years of involuntary deprivation, I repaired the deck and listened again to that very first record once again: it was a breakthrough moment, emotions and memories that had been buried inside me for too long emerged and I realised in that very moment how much I missed the gesture of unwrapping a record, holding it in my hands, turning it over, reading the sleeve, hearing the sound of the needle on the deck. I am a great lover of small things, the simple ones, the best ones…for me.

caleido intervista matteo giuntini artista
10. What is an object in your home that you would never give up? What is the memory associated with it? Can you send us a photo taken by you?
caleido intervista matteo giuntini artista

The bathtub. Sliding in a tub full of water is a cathartic moment. In water and foam I have studied, prepared exams, had cocktails while soaking in water and foam, it must be spacious and able offer the sensation of total immersion. This action takes me back to the archetype of the placenta, as it suggests an enveloping sensation. When I get home in the evening, often the first thing I do is open the bath water and slide in, to me it is a regenerative ritual.

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