Can life be seen through the lens of a cookie? In some ways, it can.
I have always thought that art is only a tool that the human beings use from time to time, to cope with the fact that the world -and life itself- are entities that need to be screened, labelled and classified in order to be considered acceptable. People cannot live in chaos, that is certain, even those who -like me- always keep their desktop in a mess of sheets and post-it everywhere.
This reflection led me to consider that I needed to keep on making my art, even when I was completely out of time, of paper and ink. Once I came across this Mexican-American artist whose work definitely blew me away. His social media nickname sounds like “Rob The Original” and, boom! I crushed into his creativity. He is able to make art with almost everything, from salt to coffee beans to powder. Only a couple of times I saw him carving a pair of Oreos and that was love at first sight. In my mind, he was nothing but restablishing the order he wanted to see, out of the small things we deal with everyday.
My imagination went further and further…
Why couldn’t I play on the fact that our imagination is crowded with names and brands and people with names tha became brands? This has always fascinated me a lot. How collective imaginary works, how it is created. And this is just an aspect of the whole path. So, I took my Oreos (very popular cookies) and started to carve famous people’s portraits within them. I collected the pictures in an Instagram gallery under the name of “The Real Oreo Lady” – that is supposed to be me.
My question stays open. What is is that we trust the most? Do we find more confort in the person that is portrayed, in the Brand that we love, in the cookie itself or in the supposed-to-be artist who created it? Remember that the cookie expires in a few days, maybe a little before popularity, hopefully way before life. Unless you are a butterfly.
There’s always time, in life, to find different ways, to discover, to find out something we didn’t know about ourselves. One sometimes only needs to abandon themselves to the undisclosed feeling of facing the new.
That’s how I found out that nature can keep on surprising you in a million different misterious ways. “I went to the woods” -just to quote one of my favourite writers- in a sort of inactive spirit, with that (fake) haughty sense of knowing already what has to be known. “So”, my thought was, “I’ll see something interesting, but not new at all”. And I accepted going to the Nivolet peaks, 8570 feet above sea level.
I was completely wrong: it was all new. The colors, nature itself, Roberto’s way of looking at things. That’s what surprised me the most. A man, his camera, nature all around: they were parts of a uniqe whole. Time stopped, space widened. Music: in my mind Pink Floyd’s “Time” started to play.
As I came back home, I tried to remember. I took my painting knives and an old empty canvas I had stored somewhere. Everything came out so naturally. Nonetheless, the light and the shades of grey I sused, they were all so new to me too. Probably, that’s the color my memories have. Of course, I painted while listening to “The Dark Side of the Moon”.
That’s all about exploring, all about nature, human nature. That’s all about time and your personal relation to it. That reminded me of one of Stephen Hawking’s most popular quotes:
Using only primary colors to paint is what I have always done.
I am aware that many brands have really beautiful and vibrant shades of every color, nevertheless I’d rather mix them personally. Painting is like magic and I prefer not to have anything “ready for use”. What I love to do is mixing all the ingredients, taking the risk to mistake, and sit back and see what’s gonna happen on my canvas or wood!
I think I got if from my father, who raised me in his bakery, where the sweetest magic used to happen . And from the roughest ingredients and the worst mistakes came out the best recipes.
Certainty, sometimes, can be a cage! The unexpected, on the contrary, allows us “to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life” (Thoureau)
There’s still a long way to go, and I realize it. And I do not even know whether palette knives will be my future of not.
That said, experimenting new techniques is like eating cherries to me: one leads to another. It’s like tasting ideas, it’s like a baker putting together new ingredients. Even though he doesn’t know himself where that will lead him.
My own ingredients, this time, led me to Turin, Italy, one night in February. My second attempt ever with palette knives.
I can say painting knives -instead of brushes- are offering me the chance to get better color results, just the way I needed it to be!
This is a particular from my new work “Fake lack of attention”, which is a small oil on canvas. Other oils will follow this first experiment of mine. I have found out knives are good to give the painting an air of spontaneity, without losing its veil of realism.
Ken the Chiwawa (named this way by his owner after the popular warrior!) is the proof to that. That’s the evidence that not always a peculiar search for details “at any cost” can be the only way to give a realistic consistency to paintings.
Is nowadays “fragmented” life (in terms of time, occupation, social life, an so on) a back to impressionism? That might be. I’ll try with some landscapes that are following this portrait.
Fake lack of attention, detail, oil on canvas, 2016
Working with new materials and discovering new techniques were the only ways I could use to start painting again, to restart using colors instead of only black and white. I had to make a clean break with the past and, of course, painting knives gave me this precious opportunity! That was the only way to me to approach a new way to consider life and reality and to try to portray them again.
I chose new subjects, such as Piedmont landscapes and new interesting faces.
So please stay tuned, because the best is yet to come!