Interview with t​h​e artist: Antonio De Blasi

Antonio De Blasi is an Italian illustrator and portrait artist from Orbetello, Italy. His passion for drawing grows in time, expressing his impression of life and the evolution of his artistic maturity. Self-taught artist, Antonio explores every-day gestures and human emotions with graphite and pencils, playing between the figurative and surrealist imaginary to give form to his subjects on paper.

The investigation of human feeling is combined with the inspiration coming from the sea, that gives to the artist’s figures a unique personality. Because of the ephemeral and magic character of his subjects belonging to a mysterious world, the artist often collaborates with publishing houses to capture the atmosphere of poetry and narrative. The use of graphite and the sea imaginary accentuate the intensity of the emotional expression, guiding the imagination to infinite stories.

The artist just left North Carolina after the solo show The Black Sea at the Jake Roger Gallery, following the collective exhibition LP_Lost People in Tuscany. While waiting for Antonio’s next destination, we asked the artist about his work and his artistic inspiration.

1 – You are a self-taught artist with a strong passion for drawing. Which style has inspired your personal artistic journey?

Yes, I am a self-taught artist: I ever had masters nor courses. I did explore drawing in the museums around me, copying the works of the greatest masters and analysing art catalogues. I also love the artist’s biography, I have lots of them, they have always been a central point of my activity. I have been inspired most by Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Hayez and Modigliani while, between contemporary artists, surely by James Jean, Nicola Verlato, Saturno Buttò, Marco Mazzoni, Agostino Arrivabene, Andrea Martinelli.

2 – Which subjects are challenging and motivating your artistic research?

I love the human figure in any of its forms and I love to represent it both in a realistic and surrealistic way, often combining it with elements connected with my other main passion: the sea. My current production is going in this direction. My artistic research focuses on the study of the sign and on the form before the colour, the study of darkness, I use just little colours that are emphasised by the blackness around. I do not paint or use brushes.

3 – Between your past projects, which one has most influenced you as an artist?

Surely the illustrations for books allowed me to work with editors, writers, poets and journalists; the exchange with these personalities was, and still is, fundamental for my personal growth.

4 – You have been part of the group exhibition LP_LostPeople, about loneliness, loss and travelling. How these concepts are relating to your personal artistic vision, also in relation to the Italian situation?

I feel very internally the theme of loneliness: is a fundamental element not only for drawing but also for my personal equilibrium (I am happy and a good company only when I have been enough on my own). The figures of my piece are the portrait of my loneliness, and my studio is the ideal place to give form to my works. About the idea of travelling: I see my artistic path as a long and undefinable journey that with pleasure also ended up in Badia a Ruoti with the group exhibition LP.

Interview to the artist: Sergio Masala

Based in Genoa, Sergio Marsala is an artist and illustrator from Modena, starting his career with Franco Buffarello, Sandro Cortesogno, Lele Luzzati, Gianni Polidori, Sergio Fedriani. Bouncing between theatre stage and comic illustration, the artist plays with familiar figuration and everyday suggestion to understand our daily life. In the solo exhibition snaturar corrivo, for example, Masala portraits little monsters representing the doubts that we try to hide every day. These creatures, however, are funny and clumsy to remind us that we can learn how to playfully face our fear.

Exhibiting between Italy, England and Franch, Sergio is also juggling between different activities that are constantly feeding the diversity of his work. Moving between children illustration, underground publishing and collaboration with theatres and cultural events, the artist explores different medium and approach to specialise in collage.

Sergio is now getting ready for his new exhibition for the Coaster Show 2018 edition in Los Angeles, after participating to last year edition. While we are waiting for his new creations, we asked Sergio about his work and his last project Lost People, a group exhibition about loneliness, travelling and identity. Presented for the first time at the Beu-Beu Art Festival, Lost Kids combines the playful approach of the artist with a reflection on identity in a fast and mobile world in which we constantly rush to become adult and too often we forget how to play.

Lost Kids
  • You are mainly working on stage design and illustration, specialising in collage. What do you like most of these techniques?

For what concerns the first two activities, which I usually approach in a similar way, it is the opportunity to interact with the text (dramatic in the first case, narrative in the second); I have always been interested in capturing the suggestion from the world of literature to transform them within visible ambient and imagine.

The technique of collage fascinates me for the opportunity of creating something new, re-using/re-locating/attributing a new meaning to something already there, even better if it is useless but conserving a trace of the previous story. I often reuse wastes for my creation, both for stage design and illustration. In a similar way, lately, cardboard is my favourite support for painting and drawing.  

  • You have also organising children workshop. How did this activity influence your artistic creativity?

My research began years ago from a childish approach to drawing rather than academic, to which I have always been deeply connected to. I carefully observe how kids are drawing in preschools and I have a small collection of their works that I often look up to take inspiration. Actually, that’s also why my work for LP, Lost People exhibition is Lost Kids. For the same reason, I have always been attracted by ethnic art and Art Brut. Any time I have the chance to make a painting with kids I do learn something new.

  • Are the subjects of your pieces connected or inspired by your every-day life?

I would rather say that they are inspired by my oniric life, which most likely is largely influenced by my every-day and previous life, by the art I have seen and by.. what I have eaten for dinner!

I try as much as I can do something out by dreams, imaginary character and atmosphere, which is not easy at all.

  • How do you relate the themes of LPLostPeople with your individual and artistic vision of the world, also considering the Italian socio-political context?

When I draw my pieces, I  let my inspiration to come out unconsciously and automatically, and the same was for the theme of the exhibition. the Italian socio-political context has probably emphasised my tendency in depicting the monstrous, nowadays very relevant theme.