An interview with Matteo Mauro, contaminations between art and technology, to tell the story of today's society

The author of the Micromegalic Inscriptions, awarded with the Van Gogh Prize, talks about how the computer has influenced art in the last...

ROME (ITALY), Tuesday, June 16, 2020 (MERCURPRESS.COM) -

The author of the Micromegalic Inscriptions, awarded with the Van Gogh Prize, talks about how the computer has influenced art in the last 20 years, from creation to fruition. In Italy there is a passive "veneration" of art, which does not take into account the artist, excluded from economic bonuses and not considered

Boston Consulting decided to assess the economic value of the cultural heritage of some countries, including Italy. To do so, with the contribution of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, it examined the revenue from museums and archaeological sites, estimating their value at 27 billion euros (1.6% of GDP) and generating revenues of 278 million euros.

It is surprising how, to estimate the economic contribution of such an important sector, only museums and archaeological sites were taken into consideration, leaving out all the production of contemporary artists. Even the post covid19 economic measures were all aimed at structures that contain art, such as museums, completely forgetting who the author is.

In this regard, Matteo Mauro, a young Italian artist who has lived in London for 10 years now, said: "I believe that in Italy there is a great respect for art, as something intrinsic to our culture, but on an archaic level, almost a passive veneration. People in Italy love to surround themselves with art and beauty, but few really understand the importance of investing in the art industry".

In this interview Mauro, who with his Micromegalic Inscriptions won the prestigious Van Gogh Prize, talks about his art, how technology in recent years has influenced the way it is produced and enjoyed, but also takes stock of the "state of the art" in Italy and abroad.

In your opinion, how has the concept of art changed in the last 20 years?

In the last 20 years we have witnessed the passage from the physical object to the virtual one, and this has marked a different way of interacting with art. Art now enters our lives in new ways, no longer just in the form of a work or reproduction to collect, as it did in the past. Today art also enters our computers, smartphones and social media, as an image of temporary consumption.

Among the peculiar features of the art of the last twenty years is certainly to be counted the fact that it is now widespread in the masses, with many copies of each work, and that it often has a limited duration in time. A process that began with the advent of printing, and has now reached its peak. Think of the myriad of copies of works made on fragile supports in unlimited series, these often have a very short life cycle, especially for their nature strictly linked to a consumer object and also for their fragility of a material that is difficult to restore in mass and at low cost, which has the sole purpose of adorning an otherwise empty wall with shapes and colors. Even more ephemeral is the art shared on social media, perhaps as a story on Instagram or Facebook, with a visibility of just 24 hours and with a limited informative or advertising purpose.

How would you describe your art using only 3 adjectives? And what do you think are the traits that characterize it most?

I would like to borrow some adjectives that curators often use to talk about my works, and that I really feel are mine: hyper-contemporary, immaterial and complex.
I believe that the real distinctive trait of my works is the accumulation of forms, particularly evident in Micromegalic Inscriptions, my most popular series. I feel that my works are generally very instinctive and uncontrollable, striking the eye of the viewer in a direct and overbearing way.

With your Micromegalic Inscriptions you received Van Gogh Prize given by José Van Roy Dalí, son of Salvador Dalí. How did you come to the realization of these works and what has this recognition meant to you?

These works were born about 6 years ago. It all started with an interest in mechanical engravings, made by what in English are called engravers, which indicates a particular type of specialized engravers who create prints through the accumulation of dots or lines. It is a first process of serial printing, which was made starting from the engraving of a metal plate, then inked and finally pressed against the paper. This made it possible to obtain hundreds of identical images.

My technique wanted to emulate that analogical process, which is why all my paintings are based on the infinite accumulation of lines, then some are reproduced in series, even numerous, while others remain unique pieces.

For years I studied and researched, starting from 1500 onwards, when the first works of this kind appeared. Doing these studies gave me access to important international museum archives. With all this information collected, I decided to write a book, with the support of an important ornamentalist and academic, Oliver Domeisen. The Micromegalic Inscriptions, then, were born almost by chance. My main objective, in fact, was research, a study that lasted years and inevitably ended up influencing my art.

The book was published 3 years ago under the title "Micromegalic Inscriptions" and is available today in many bookshops and libraries of important museums around the world.

The computer is an important element in your works. Do you think this will be the tool that will characterize the artistic currents of the 21st century?

Definitely, even if only partially. Even the classical painter no longer works on the observation of the physical model, but often creates a digital image with a camera that is then processed, altered, manipulated on the computer, printed and then painted on canvas. Even those who copy the paintings of the great masters of the past, such as Caravaggio for example, no longer go to the museum to make his sketches, while admiring the original work. Now reference is made to images observed through a computer. David Hockney himself exhibits works painted inside his car on an iPad. We can, therefore, say that the computer is an important part of the contemporary artist's tools, whether he uses it as a means of activating the work or just as a means of passage. Whether this emulates existing analogical techniques or promotes new ones. The use of digital technologies is one of the most characteristic features of art in the last 20 years, and, together with the art financial market, it is what most influences the development of the sector.

This has always been the case in the past. Think of the passage of the painting through the rubbing of coloured stones to the invention of the brush and the canvas, from the colour prepared slowly and chemically in the studio to the invention of colour transportable in tin tubes, but also the impact of photography in painting... The emergence of a new technology influences all aspects of life, including art.

For about 10 years you have lived and worked in London, where you also have a degree in architecture. Do you think that countries like the UK offer more opportunities for young people and, in particular, for artists?

Absolutely, yes. I think that in Italy there is a great respect for art, as something intrinsic to our culture, but on an archaic level, almost a passive veneration. People in Italy love to surround themselves with art and beauty, but few really understand the importance of investing in the art industry.

To give an example in this sense, during this period of crisis brought by covid19, many categories have been mentioned by our politicians for the provision of financial aid and to be able to start again after the crisis, but there has never been talk of aid to the art system. Rather, there was talk of support for institutions such as museums, once again favouring the container of official art, to the detriment of those who produce or sell it, which is completely ignored.

The contemporary artist is never venerated, nor is it completely appreciated. They prefer to focus attention on the great masters of the past. Art in Italy is seen almost as a sacred hobby, a living room philosopher, rather than as a cultural and commercial activity like so many others, as can be the world of fashion, or catering.

On the contrary, in England, the contemporary artist has a role of extreme visibility in society. A society that invests in art and its structures. As a demonstration, anyone in the art sector has had the opportunity to receive help from the English state during this period of crisis.

How did you experience the lockdown at covid19? Do you think it affected your creativity?

It was a moment that marked the lives of everyone, each of us reacted differently according to our own nature. In my case, I noticed a transformation in my work, which became more melancholic and sentimental. In these weeks closed in the studio I have also approached new ways to express my creativity. I was also able to work on materials that require more time, since we had a lot of time in quarantine. I went back to using marble to make sculptures, but also bronze. These are materials that, by now, are hardly ever used directly by the artist, whose processing is often entrusted to specialized companies, precisely because they require a lot of time, and often the

It was a moment that marked the lives of everyone, each of us reacted differently according to our own nature. In my case, I noticed a transformation in my works, which have become more melancholic and sentimental. In these weeks closed in the studio I have also approached new ways to express my creativity. I was also able to work on materials that require more time, since we had a lot of time in quarantine. I went back to using marble to make sculptures, but also bronze. These are materials that, by now, are hardly ever used directly by the artist, whose processing is often entrusted to specialized companies, precisely because they require a lot of time, and often the artist does not have enough. The works produced in years no longer exist, the market requires speed and a certain quantity and frequency of production.

During this period, I have also participated in various online initiatives, which have allowed me to increase my media presence and I also hope to do some good. My studio, for example, has organized many open calls that have been taken up by important newspapers. I have made my platform, which today has an audience of over 100 thousand followers, available to anyone who wants visibility. I also embraced the fundraising initiative "Points of view" by Salotto58, curated and invented by Marianna Santini, with the sale of works online. I donated one of my works and involved over 500 other artists, each of whom donated something. I also created a work for the book created by Emeric Tchatchoua for the children at Montreal Children's Hospital in Canada, working alongside artists like André Saraiva, Space Invader, Paul Insect. In the meantime, in continuous video-conferences with Virginia Damtsa, former Riflemaker's gallery owner and art agent, we worked on the conception of future post lockdown or ennemly virtual moves and exhibitions and the planning of new works. This is the history of art and love in the days of covid-19.

What are your future projects?

There is the expectation of a revival and maybe a real rebirth. So many exhibitions that I had planned, for the moment, have been put on hold. Right now there is a lot of desire to restart, but to do it at the right time, not only when the pandemic will be over, but when we will be in the right mood again to enjoy an exhibition and the works of art. When it's possible, I'll start again, first of all by presenting my new marble and bronze sculptures, which are growing and coming to life in my studio right now, and they can't wait to get out. The intention is also to resume the tour of my performance, stopped at the dawn of the pandemic, I only Eat Flowers.

What these last works of mine have in common is the strong pathos, which can be seen also from their names, like Loves who don't know how to get by in this world; I live as if a river traversed me; In no place I feel home, In no place I feel human; Sweet Half; Live on Poetry as Veins Live on Blood; Kingdom of Dreams. These are names taken from poems, in particular those of Antonia Pozzi, the poetess who died suicide at the age of 26, who gave me great comfort during the days of lockdown. Among these sculptures, I believe that the work that most reflects my inner world of these months is Sweet Half, which I call a sort of self-portrait.
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Mercurpress International: An interview with Matteo Mauro, contaminations between art and technology, to tell the story of today's society
An interview with Matteo Mauro, contaminations between art and technology, to tell the story of today's society
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