From Venice, Italy
Based in Gran Canaria, Spain
Gianfranco is a sculptor whose work is centered around his concept of "intro-sculpture", which is the principle on which his sculpture draw the observer's gaze to the "soul" of the artwork instead of just its surface. His work is also concerned with humanity and its focus on its own suffering or the current surface-levelness of humans
A: Please tell us a little more about yourself. What inspired you to become an artist?
G: I had a passion for modelling from a very early age. I remember that I worked with the clay or glass putty that my bricklayer father brought home for me. When I was 16, I displayed a perforated stone panel in the first group show organized by Venice City Council at the Bevilacqua la Masa Foundation in Piazza San Marco and it was then that I realized this was my calling.
I am from Venice and attended the Venice State Institute of Art for 5 years, studying sculpture and ceramics. Although I am still extremely fond of Venice, I decided about 10 years ago to live and work in Gran Canaria, a Spanish island opposite Morocco. I like the mild climate in Gran Canaria all year round. The people are always easy-going and cheerful. It is peaceful and since I travel a lot, when I return to Gran Canaria I feel very much at home.
A: What inspires you most? Do you have any specific rituals when working (creating)?
G: Saying what inspires me the most is by no means easy and at first glance may seem to be a paradox: I feel that an artist, in reality, is little more than a receiver-antenna and there is nothing more rewarding than the feeling of being part of the creative process of a Higher Energy.
When I create my works, I try to set aside my rational part and act instinctively, on impulse. I never prepare drawings or preliminary sketches but mould the hot wax spontaneously.
A: What would you recommend to someone new to art (as an artist or merely as an admirer): where should they start?
G: I am not really in a position to give advice to anyone but what I can say to a new artist or collector is to try and "feel" what the work conveys. A true work of art must have the intrinsic strength to communicate something to you, with the metaphor specific to art, an inner message.
I believe that there is still room for art that goes beyond "applied philosophy" (that is, the ability to give a chair in an empty room a thousand meanings). I believe that we can still begin with matter - wax, bronze or marble - and, after countless efforts and hard work, transcend material itself to reach the essence. In this contemporary world based on mere appearance, I think it is vital to seek the essence, the substance, the meaning of things.
This would be the starting point from where an artist must learn to listen, listen to and search within himself; then comes technique and all the rest - but if you have nothing to say, it is only decoration, not art.
A: Your top 3 adjectives related to art?
G: Beauty, Passion and Militancy: these are my three personal favourites about art.
I have always sought beauty and harmony in all their forms, which I view as a reflection of the divine that is all around us. Then, everyone has a very personal idea of beauty - and without beauty I would be unable to live.
There is no commitment without passion. Passion makes everything seem simpler even when it is not so at all. It makes the heart leap over the obstacle.
Militancy: I admire the figure of the militant artist, which is why I make many public installations of a social and cultural nature. The last one in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, sought to combine archaeology and quantum physics.
In my opinion, an artist has the moral responsibility to convey messages, encourage thought and ask questions to which everyone can then respond with their own personal answers.
A: The best angle to look at art is ....?
G: ...from the inside. In other words, do not stop at the surface of things but try to understand their meaning, go beyond the outer layer. Every work of art is actually a metaphor about the nature and condition of human beings on this planet.
A: Best phrase to start a conversation about art is...?
“What sensation does this work instil in me?" Sometimes, by analysing more deeply what a work of art offers us, we can understand ourselves better or at least be prompted to think by certain works. In the ultimate analysis, a work of art always becomes a mirror for the observer.
A: Must-read books about art (and do we even need them)?
G: A book I would certainly recommend is Storia della Belleza (History of Beauty) curated by Umberto Eco. It shows how the idea of beauty is changeable and closely linked to the philosophy of a given time.
Leo & C. The story of Leo Castelli by Annie Cohen-Solal, where you enter the ‘control room’ of contemporary art.
TCT - La Coscienza Ritrovata by Corrado Malanga (TCT - Rediscovered Consciousness) takes us on a journey into a virtual world, where quantum physics enters into a relationship with consciousness and spirituality.
Then… so many books could be recommended… someone could even read the Mahābhārata and find nothing there, while someone else could read an instruction manual and find enlightenment. Everything is subjective… all individuals are unique and unrepeatable and must go through their own personal experiences.
A: If you could change one thing in the art world, what would it be?
G: Contemporary art often reveals a sense of helplessness and desperation in relation to the human condition. This is why I would like to hope that Man is something more than mere pulsating material that suffers. I want to believe that we are beings who have arrived in this reality to go through an experience of the finite.
A: Please share your favourite quote (not necessarily related to art):
G: I found my favourite quotation scrawled on a wall in Gran Canaria. In my opinion, it embodies the essence of life: "Viniste a ser feliz, no te distraigas." (You came here to be happy, don't get distracted.)