In the Studio with Jimmy Milani

Italian artist Jimmy Milani creates works full of purity, through bold attention and interrogative energy. We met with Jimmy to tell us more about living in San Miniato, his greatest influences, and goals for the future.

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

I don’t think that feeling that you are an artist makes you a real artist. Since I was a child I’ve been told I was an artist. I often ask myself if many ‘artists’ really are artists. I try to look at myself from the outside because sometimes I do some artistic things, sometimes not. I fight everyday with this question! I think we should think more when we define people in this way because there are so many bright creatives that are really good at camouflaging themselves in the real artists’ field. Only time and my work will reveal whether I am truly an artist.

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

I’m Italian, maybe too much! Nowadays I’m living in San Miniato in Tuscany, but I usually travel back and forth from here to Milan, where I studied almost everything I know at Brera’s Academy. Of course the Milan artistic context influenced me, but not always in a positive way, to be honest. I mean, it’s a really active bright world but sometimes it’s a one way road. Sometimes I need to go away to focus on what I’m really interested in. Thanks to Instagram and the internet in general, you can have a flat but global vision of the world and can follow anything you want, even if it’s on the other side of the Earth. Looking at history, I think Italian artists are the best and I also think it would be impossible not to be influenced by this wonderful artistic heritage we have here.

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

I think searching “Jimmy Milani” on Instagram or Google could be a better way to understand my job. I had a traditional training itinerary: artistic high school in Empoli (FI) first and then Brera’s Academy in Milan, which I’m finishing in June. After that I think I will go abroad for some experience.

What’s the message of your work? How would you describe your aesthetic?

I think it’s a product of our time, you know. Just like a lethal mixture of  digitalisation and mass media bombing. I define my aesthetic with drugs, sex, chronic insecurity and mood swings. I jump from total loneliness to rave party chaos. I feel just like the suspense of a rocket in countdown, waiting to fly into space in 10 seconds. There is also the melancholy: the same of a painting hanging on some museums’ walls.

The message changes from piece to piece, just like different chapters of a collection of stories. Themes change, but the way we read them is similar for every work I do. The glue to them all is myself and my way of processing an image, my interests and particular colors I use for them. I’d like to say the purpose is to save the world, but I don’t see myself as a hero. At least I can do super-paintings.

Are your works planned? What do you want people to take from your work when they view it? 

I do a lot of preparatory sketches and design. I think it’s very important today – I don’t like to proceed without an initial idea. In my paintings there are hardly shades of my work, almost all of my work is a flat packing overlap. I really think choosing the right color is important just like a paintings’ dimensions. There are artworks born to be large and others born to be small. My works are the result of choices I make first, I think every move can affect the final outcome.

I believe my works should please me – the person and me – the artist first. I also wonder if they would please my children when I have them.

Who and what are your greatest influences?

My greatest influencers are love, death, scrolling on instagram, many dead artists’ works, some alive artists’ paintings, Netflix, NatGeo, History channel, Focus, Science, Nature, and video games etc etc..

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

I don’t know if there’s a recipe. There are works that have the prerequisites for being beautiful… but when you’re at the end you might realize that something about the project on canvas went wrong. Some of these things instead surprise you even if you wouldn’t count on them initially. It’s just like sex.

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise? How has your art evolved? 

The events that ever stimulate my works and their continuous metamorphosis are of course the discussions I have in Academy and bars with my colleagues. The comparisons I have with them allow me to open my eyes on themes I usually elude or they stimulate better work, thanks to healthy competition! My favourite medium is painting, but I’d like it to evolve and diverge in space, whilst maintaining an idea of construction, similar to what I have on canvas. I always think about my paintings in big dimensions because I want the viewer to be embraced by the image. I like to think I can create a physical connection, not only visual. My works will try to overload and harass you. The invitation is clear but it’s up to you to choose whether to dive in or run away.

What are your goals for the future?

I have a few projects that may come to life in the next few months and I only dream of others. I don’t want to talk about it because Italians (like me) are very superstitious and we say that if you talk about a dream, it won’t come true.

How have you been keeping creative during isolation?

In this period, for both practical and physical reasons derived from lockdown, it was not easy for me to work at my best. I couldn’t go to the studio because it is far from where I live now, but I got a lot of hunches for new works and projects. I have drawn a lot, I read and have collected information and references for my next pieces that I’m sure will be better than the last.


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