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In the Studio with Davide Serpetti

Davide Serpetti explores the prominence of image-sharing platforms, depicting contrasts between unique physical forms that have been devaluated in modern society. We met with Davide to talk a little bit about his artistic practice, influences, and how he began his journey.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?

I began to see myself as an artist when I arrived in Milan in 2009. I was always around, partying, going to exhibitions, and meeting people orientated by the same desires as myself. I woke up one day and felt like I was on the right track to becoming an artist, so I guess it just happened. 

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like? How has this impacted your work?

I was born in a small town called L’Aquila, in the center of Italy. Until age 6, I lived in the countryside, so I was lucky to be in contact with nature and animals. I have very strong memories of my childhood, like a vivid dream. The animal element is present in my work because of that. 

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. Have you gone through the traditional route of art school and what was your experience? 

My artistic education was very “old school”– sculpture, drawing, painting lessons, restoring ancient art, visiting churches to see old masterpieces, life drawing, and so on. Then I started the Academy in Milan and discovered contemporary art, which was so crazy and unexpected that it drove me into crisis.

My response to that was to work on performance and video, but in the end, I chose to return to my roots with painting…. though in a more mature way, because of the things I had learned from experimenting with other mediums.

What’s the message of your work? Are there themes/narratives/purpose? 

My way of seeing painting embraces the strong belief that you only paint narrations which words can’t describe. 

Where do they come from? How would you describe your aesthetic? 

My artistic practice consists of three main elements and evolves around levels of intensity derived from the following subject matters: the Hero, the Sculpture and the Beast.

Who and what are your greatest influences? 

Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Picasso, Gino De Dominicis, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Victor Man, Martin Creed, Lars Ulrich, Anri Sala, Cyprien Gaillard, Cecily Brown, Carl Hubbuc, Bronzino, Josef Albers and last, but definitely not least, Manet.

Are your works planned? What do you want people to take from your work when they view it? Do you have the audience consciously in mind when you are creating?

Typically, my work starts as a study from a picture I find interesting and then I imagine
“where I want to go” using that picture.

I want people to be surprised every time they look at a new painting of mine.

When I work, I do it for myself following my own convictions– but I also can’t forget I’m doing it to be seen by other people, so it needs to speak to everyone.

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise/aesthetic? How has your art evolved? Do you stick to one medium? Do you experiment? Do you see any parameters to your work? 

My three years in Belgium, when I first started painting. Every year I look back and feel the need to do better, to keep experimenting.

When I was 20, I was also doing videos and performances. Nowadays, I mostly paint, but I also sometimes do sculpture when I get a good idea for one. Nothing needs to be forced to be born. Sometimes I still work as a performer for myself or other artists. It’s just that my priority is painting now.

The parameters of my work are:

– chromatic intensity

– the search for an androgynous form

– visible contrasts between parts of the painting worked quickly and parts worked meticulously

– the golden section

– narratives set in an imaginative space

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

The quality of light in the studio, a clear mind and no internet connection.

What are your goals for the future? (Projects, collaborations)

I have a few exhibitions planned in Italy for the end of the year.

I’m also working on a project in Vienna with my dear friend and incredible artist, Michele Bubacco.

Finally, I’m planning a collaboration between music and visual art with the platform “Il Circolo del Frattempo“ in Zurich.

How has your art practice been affected by self-isolation?

Nothing has changed– as a painter I spend most of time in my studio wearing gloves, a mask, and working alone…even before Covid-19.

Are you creating new work while social distancing?

Yes, I’ve also taken the chance to experiment even more.

How are you staying creative?

Staying connected with other artists, giving each other strength and thinking about new future collaborations together.

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