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Alessio Mazzarulli

Artist Spotlight


I like to find new ways, new paths, new techniques, new materials, and use them to convey a message.

In his work, Italian artist Alessio Mazzarulli addresses the passage of time. Shredding and recycling the paper that he comes across in daily life: bills, receipts, invoices, business plans, and magazines, he creates thickly layered artworks that show a distorted glimpse of the past. A faded memory, eroded by time, the details of a face, almost forgotten – he captures these moments and incorporates them into his work to create a testimony of human existence.

DISCOVER HIS WORK


INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST


Q. Did you always want to be an artist?

A. Yes. I believe we are all artists in some way since we are born. Some of us are aware, some others not. My first experience with art was at school. It was my professor in art education that made me take up a brush for the first time. Years later, I was collaborating with a local magazine I made the satirical cartoons, which I have never completely abandoned; I still publish some satirical cartoons every now and then. Thanks to this work in comics I was able to meet a dear friend who, in addition to teaching me the techniques of drawing, directed me towards sculpture. A process which I started with a block of homemade soap made by my grandmother. Soon after, I discovered clay and the wealth of possibilities that it brings.

The first years of 2000 were years of very intense production in 3D. I even created an artisan oven for baking the clay. Since December 2014, after a long period of "standstill", I have resumed working in the two-dimensional. I temporarily left sculpture behind and dedicated myself to the creation of acrylic paintings, producing over 500 works in just 5 years.

Q. There is a photographic quality to your work. How do you choose your subjects?

A. If I could, I would use my technique to reproduce everything I see every day. But I can't. So, I concentrate on making a series. Currently, I am focusing on women's daily trouble and there is a lot to say about this issue.

a close up of the artwork
SAN VITO CHIETINO - ITALY, 2019


Q. Could you take us through your process, where does your material come from and how do you transform it?

A. I start preparing the surface of the canvas first. I use acrylic resins and grafts of threads, gauze, tissue, pieces of paper to give it a "creased" feeling. Then, I use different materials to paint the subject. During this process, I use a particular technique to dissolve the colors. In fact, the details you see in my work are often the colors that are "melting". By melting, they bring out shades that were not there to begin with and I really enjoy this! For this particular technique, I initially used only office paper. However, during the COVID quarantine, I ran out of office paper and I started to use all the paper that I could get my hands on and I discovered that when I used thicker paper, the effect of the material was much stronger.

Thus, the latest works have greater consistency and materiality due to the presence of less delicate paper than the simple A4 sheet. The wrapping paper that we find on the products we purchase and consume in everyday life, reappears in another form, thus avoiding the landfill. In a single piece, I may use boxes of pasta, bags of flour, cans of tuna, packaging of toothpaste (even if the material is slightly plasticized, I can use it), drugs, ice cream, advertising flyers, etc. etc. By using all these different types of paper, I obtain different results every time and it is not easy to find the right equilibrium. More I cannot reveal 😉

Q. What would you like your work to evoke in the viewer?

A. Curiosity and reflection.

Curiosity, because this type of technique invites you to get closer, to see the details, to read the many words written on the small pieces of paper. As if it were a game in the search for the strangest word. Reflection, because with this type of technique, the further you go, the more clear the figure portrayed on the canvas is outlined, the better you understand the artwork as a whole.

Q. When do you make your best work?

A. Definitely at night. At night, creativity and I are intimate, without any of the outside interference that you get during the day. At night, I think about the new works and how to develop them, with what kind of paper, what colors and above all with what keywords to develop the theme.

Q. How do you feel about the increased accessibility that comes with selling art online?

A. I undoubtedly feel more motivated. For example, the first painting that I’ve sold since I've been online, I sold to a collector in Singapore.  Without this opportunity, I would have never had the visibility to make this possible. Before, you could only sell locally and I have participated in several art fairs here in Italy, but at times like these, those types of channels show their unpredictable vulnerability.

To be honest, the online channel does penalize my new technique a bit. Because "live", my works can be more easily appreciated as it is easier to take in the different materials and you can see all the individual small "pixels" of paper that make up the painting from up close.

NO, YOU FORGET, 2020
A close up of the artwork


Q. How has your work evolved over time – has it been a gradual process or rather rapid developments?

A. I think it has been a very slow and gradual process that has been sped up in recent years. I could compare it to a logarithmic curve. Suffice it to say, that 20 years ago I was working with clay and making half busts and bas reliefs; then I had a very, very long pause and only resumed with art at the end of 2014, leaving behind (but only temporarily) the third dimension and dedicating myself to the 2 dimensional.

At the beginning of 2017, I started with this new painting technique that evolved quickly, sometimes by accident, until it led me to my latest works. I am an experimenter. I like to find new ways, new paths, new techniques, new materials, and use them to convey a message. This technique lends itself to many other variables to try, to experiment, and to discover. The time available, however, is never enough.

Q. Do you feel like the last year has caused a shift in your personal or professional priorities?

A. No, I do not think so. I have certainly felt the effects. This strange period we are living through has allowed me to further evolve my new technique. During the quarantine, for example, I had run out of A4 paper and was forced to use any type of paper at home: all the paper I would normally throw away I now transformed into "pixels" of paper to make paintings. Thanks to the quarantine I was able to reach a new level of materiality in my work, an aspect that is of great importance to me given my beautiful experience with sculpture. Without the quarantine, I would perhaps have kept on using those delicate sheets of A4 paper.

However, the lockdown and forced quarantine has also resulted in a significant increase in domestic violence with especially women as the victim. This issue has prompted me to work on a series dedicated to the world of women and their difficult experiences.

Q. What motivates you?

A. My continuous evolution has fuelled me. In recent works I have focused on my need to tell stories, imagining short scenes of lived "female" life, the suffering, the redemption. At this stage, I am conceiving the background story, to be represented visually in the realization of the painting. The picture that comes out is nothing but the frame, the shot of that precise moment that should contain, in itself, the whole story.

A woman mistreated by her drunken partner; a woman who hides her tears by passing them off as an allergy; a woman who gets angry because she doesn't see her ex-boyfriend doesn’t show up for an appointment; a woman who has blood on her lips and doesn’t understand why; a woman in ecstasy over a wonderful piece of news she received; a woman destroyed by lies but hopeful that time will lead to the truth, etc.

Q. Which other creatives, books, movies or music inspire you?

A. I look everywhere for short stories to tell: in real life, in the news, in movies, on the web. But the medium of greatest inspiration is the book. Reading a book, the mind immediately imagines, the mind immediately draws, the mind immediately constructs the scene just read. Bringing the imagined story back to canvas becomes child's play at that point.

Q. Could you describe your work in three words?

A. Micro, Macro and something in the middle.

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