|As a preview to his show, Agostino Iacurci created the public piece Zero Infinito on the facade of the building of IISS Di Vittorio-Lattanzio, in via Aquilonia, near Wunderkammern Gallery. Photograph by Andreas Romagnoli|
Italian artist Agostino Iacurci’s new exhibition Small Wheel, Big Wheel is at Wunderkammern Gallery in Rome. Andreas Romagnoli and Jeanne-Marie Cilento talk to the artist about his latest works and what inspires him
AGOSTINO Iacurci emerged first as one of the new, young Italian artists in the world of Street Art. His giant murals on the sides of buildings depict bulbous figures that seem to step out of a fairytale world. Yet while the jovial, larger-than-life characters suggest both the innocence and naive charm of a storybook they resonate with a sense of encroaching menace with their sightless, immobile faces.
Today, Iacurci’s paintings, drawings and installations are also exhibited in galleries around the world. His new show explores the notion of play as a moment in quotidian life where there is space for imagination and freedom. The exhibited works depict simple actions like riding a bike or sitting on a swing but suggest other darker worlds of more profound, complex experience. The artist focuses on the playground as a place symbolising play in a public space.
Iacurci's work in Rome can be seen in the international context of his projects that now stretch from Moscow to Paris. His work, including paintings, drawings and etchings have been presented at exhibitions and festivals in Europe, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States. The artist has painted murals in public spaces for Roma Tre University, Fubon Art Foundation in Taipei, the Fine Art Academy of Rome, the University Campus of Besançon in France, the Saba School in Algeria and ~ together with the inmates ~ two massive works on the walls of the maximum security zone of Rebibbia prison.
The new show includes drawings, paintings, objects and installations. Small Wheel, Big Wheel is part of the larger project Public & Confidential which involves five of the most influential street artists on the international scene.
1. What are you working on now?
Right now I'm leaving for Brazil, where I will make a mural on the walls of a hospital in Belo Horizonte and a number of other art works in other cities.
2. What inspires you for your current work?
My main source of inspiration in recent years are travel, books and exhibitions. Each place, catalogue or museum helps to explore a layering of images, memories and ideas that emerge randomly in time, perhaps through different associations and become part of my work.
3. Why did you choose painting and sculpture as your artistic métier?
I started painting instinctively and innocently very early at around 11 years old and I have never abandoned this practice. Although over the years my subject, approach and awareness have changed radically. There was no exact moment when I chose painting as a profession even though I've invested a lot of energy so that it could become the main occupation and effort of my days.
4. Can you describe the experience, person or training that has had the greatest impact on your artistic career?
The experience that has had the greatest impact on my development as a muralist was the discovery of the first works of Blue and Erica and The Dog. In those years, I was little more than a teenager, I was passionate about underground culture, comics, graffiti and self-produced creations. These types of works were enlightening because it showed everything I loved in a new and unique way.
Looking at painting, however, things are a little different. My paintings show my training as an illustrator but the experience that most influenced me in both good and bad ways was attending painting classes at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. Despite the limitations and frustration you feel in those classrooms, it was the first place where I breathed in the atmosphere of something like an atelier, a place dedicated only to creation.
5. What do you find the most challenging aspect of your work?
I would say that the most challenging part for me is brainstorming, even before the work materialises and encounters technical problems. Also as a street artist, the climatic conditions combined with very tight production time when working outdoors can also be very stressful.
6. Where do you like to draw or make the first sketch of your works?
At home, alone and surrounded by my books and listening to the right music.
7. Do you have a set schedule of work or the process is more fluid?
I always try to give myself a calendar and to have a precise agenda but in the end I often lose a lot of time creating useless road maps. So I’ve opted for a more fluid process in which visual memory, combined with adrenaline and a curiosity to see the work finished inspires me to get it done.
8. Do you find your creative process more rational or instinctive?
If you want to try to outline the process, the first phase of inspiration or intuition - that is usually the most instinctive. Later, I tend to rationalise and to incorporate that inspiration into a grid of thought and a cultural context. In fact, like all complex processes I don’t think it's possible to separate the different components: all of them, to varying degrees, participate in the creative process at the same time.
9. Is there a city or place in the world that inspires you the most?
Well I must say that having lived a lot of time in Rome, it has had a great influence on my growth and consequently on my personality and my work. Among the cities that I have visited several times I would say that Moscow, with its contradictions and its great people, has a special place. Every time I seem to find myself in the pages of The Master and Margarita, one of my favourite novels .
10. In the digital age what is the value of painting as an art form?
I believe that the digital world can add value to painting and contemporary art in general. In one sense, it reaffirms the value and necessity of hand-made art as opposed to the process of dematerialisation created by the digital age. On the other hand, it allows creators and artists to share information and create a huge network of relationships, friendships and the ability to exchange and promote our work.
Agostino Iacurci's exhibition Small Wheel, BigWheel is on until March 22nd at Wunderkammern Gallery at Via Serbelloni 24, Rome Italy. The gallery is open from Wednesday until Saturday from 5-8pm: www.wunderkammern.net
Click on photographs for full-screen slideshow
|Young Italian artist Agostino Iacurci at the opening of his new show in Rome at Wunderkammern Gallery. Photograph by Andreas Romagnoli|
|Iaucurci talking to the crowd of some 600 people that turned up to the opening of his new exhibition in Rome. Photograph by Andreas Romagnoli|
|Small Wheel, Big Wheel is part of Wunderkammern Gallery's Public & Confidential series of exhibitions showing the world's top street artists. Photograph by Andreas Romagnoli|
|A Dismisura D'Uomo 2014 Acrylic on canvas 220 x 220cm. Photograph by Andreas Romagnoli|
|Nice to Meet You 2014 Acrylic on canvas 200 x 150cm. Photograph by Andreas Romagnoli|
|Altalena 2014 Painted wood 372 x 260 x 87.5cm. Photograph by Giorgio Coen Cagli courtesy Wunderkammern.|