In the Studio with Gabriele La Teana

In the studio with Gabriele La Teana, whose practice explores the human connection and how art was a means to express himself through dark times. We met with Gabriele to tell us more about growing up in Italy, their greatest influences, and unexpected sources of inspiration.

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

Since I was young I loved painting on the wall as a primitive gesture. I started as a graffiti artist in 2004 and ended in 2008. My first canvas was made in 2018 and I was captured in this bubble since then. So I’d say 2018 is the official year that I started seeing myself as an artist.

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like? 
I’m from a small village from Italy, but I moved in Milan in 1995. My parents always approved my artistic side. I grew up in a very free environment. Also when I was painting my room’s walls they have been supportive. This way of thinking made me the man I am today, the artist I’m today.

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice, artistic work? 

I started as a necessity to expose my dark feelings in the beginning. My rage, I was lost and art saved my life, gave me a purpose. I remember two moments where I realized that this was my destiny. The first one, when I made my first solo show in a contemporary art museum where are exposed also artists as Fontana and Musumeci. The second one was when I finished a painting in the middle of the night, and I realized that it was exactly as I figured it in my mind. It meant I had the power to create what I envisioned
in my head, so I had to keep working in order to create my artistic path. These two crucial moments, where the ones that made me understand that I am an artist.

What’s the message of your work? Where do they come from?

My message starts as personal, but I understand that everyone can be represented by. It depends on my mental status and can be seen by the different use of colors. Normally I try to describe my feelings, they come from within. My aesthetic is violent, vibrant. I’d say a rational primitive instinct.

Who/what are your greatest influences?

I started looking at Basquiat, for the impact he had on the culture at the time, for the bright colors he
used. Also it was the most fitting style for me as a self-thought artist. Then I started looking at the Francis
bacon. His paintings always screamed at me with power and rage. During my career I evolved and got more inspiration by many other painters like Thomas Mustaki and Genesis Tramane.

An unexpected source of inspiration?

The most unexpected source of inspiration has been joy.
Normally I took my inspiration from pain. Through dark times I’ve been able to express the most of
myself. In the last months I gathered more serenity in my life and I am feeling inspired by joyful moments, by
memories and old pictures.

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?

In the beginning I didn’t even realize I had an audience, so my paintings were a therapy session for my brain. Once I realized that my art was connecting and many people were enjoying it, I felt a bit the pressure on the shoulders, but I never did anything I didn’t like. Now I’m aware of myself and I know people is going to like the most genuine version of my works, so I do everything that I like and transmit it to my audience. Transparency will always be the best way to communicate yourself. So if I have to tell you, now I don’t have my audience in mind while creating

What events in your life have mobilised change in your aesthetic? How has your art evolved? Do you experiment?

I do, constantly. I tried all materials, all medium, I am sculpting also. I think it’s necessary. If an artist does not experiment and evolve, art is going to die. Normally a strong experience will have a great impact on my practice. Generally it’s a travel, visiting new places and cultures. Big changes in life, means big changes in art.

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

I need to be alone, with my music. I’ll start sketching with charcoals and I’ll lose myself in the bubble. Until I finish I won’t stop. I forget to eat. I’ll need full intimacy with my canvas and mediums

Tell us about the inspiration behind your works?

Normally it’s an experience that happened to me the previous day. Once it gets elaborated by my brain, I will translate on canvas. The music I’m listening in that period will help me giving the right vibes to it. Every work is similar to the other but it’s different from the previous one.

Something in the future you hope to explore?

I hope to explore many places through my art and develop my path in order to explain it to my audience. Make them live the same adventure I’m living I’m trying to live a life worth of living that won’t be forget through the help of my paintings.

Describe your work in three words:

Screaming, vivid and vibrant.

What do you listen to while you work? Is music important to your art?

It’s crucial. I need music to create. It could be rap, metal, classical or punk. I need a soundtrack.

What is your favorite read?

Fantasy, thriller or comics.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received (any quotes or mantras you particularly connect with)?

Art is never finished, only abandoned – Leonardo Da Vinci

What makes you laugh? What makes you nervous?

Spending time with friends, especially at the beach. Crowded places makes me uncomfortable. I’m trying to work on this.

Is there anything you wish you were asked more often?

I guess, How are you for real?

Is there anything you’ve recently tried for the first time?

I’ve started slowing down my lifestyle. I was way too close to burnout. I’m enjoying more little moment.

Is there anything you’ve been hesitant to try in the past but you’d like to this year? Do you have any superstitions?

I’ve decided to make a huge change, but as a good superstitious Italian man, I won’t talk about it until it
will be sure 100%.

Would you rather know what the future holds or be surprised?

Nope, otherwise they won’t be a surprise anymore.

What palace in your everyday environment do you go to for inspiration?

Well, probably the small street in the city center. Especially at night, while there is no one and you can only hear your footsteps. It’s good to see the shadows on the buildings, that changes shapes from different angles.

What is your relationship with social media?

My relationship with social media is toxic, especially now that they help me with my career. I’d love to get away from them, but I can’t. I will work on this in the next future.