GIUSEPPE RAGAZZINI: INCONTRI GROTTESCHI
29 November 2018 – 19 January 2019
Vicolo del Vescovado 5/A, Parma, Italy
By guest author Clare Ann Matz
Painter, set designer, and visual artist Giuseppe Ragazzini was born in London in 1978.
After earning a degree in Philosophy, he became fascinated by the vision of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s documentary Le Mystère Picasso, and in 2002 he began using digital techniques to film the creative process of producing the pictorial image.
Dedicated to both painting and pictorial animation, Ragazzini has developed his own technique for pictorial animation and digital set design, which makes use of huge videoprojections and „mapping“.
In his work, the image becomes subject to an incessant transformation from the permanence of its preceding elements – a flux, a digital collage of elements continuously superimposing over themselves.
His set designs and projections have been displayed across Europe in theaters including Milan’s Piccolo Teatro Strehler and Venice’s Teatro La Fenice. His animations have been featured in several of the main international animation festivals, including International Trickfilm Festival of Stuttgart, Anima Mundi, International Animation Festival of Brazil, Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), International Festival of Erotic Animation (FIAE), Festival Internazionale at the Palazzo Venezia in Rome, and Visionaria International Festival.
In september 2014 he realized the video set design for the opening gala of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Lincoln Center. In July 2015 „La Dolce Vita, the music of Italian cinema“ was put on stage at the 58. Spoleto Festival. He has also produced videos and set designs for famous Italian musicians such as Avion Travel, Paolo Conte, Vinicio Capossela, Lucio Dalla, Gianna Nannini and Ornella Vanoni.
Ragazzini’s paintings and illustrations have been displayed in international exhibitions, collections, galleries, books, and periodicals, and he collaborates with the newspapers La Repubblica and Le Monde. Giuseppe Ragazzini is the son of the Italian photographer Enzo Ragazzini.
He lives and works in Milan.
Clare Matz‘ Interview with the artist:
In which ways has the rich artistic heritage from Italy and Europe influenced your creative language?
My work, especially when I use the collage technique, is largely influenced above all by the Renaissance and Flemish painting. I like to think that this is partly due to my origins, half Italian and half Dutch. These inspirations and suggestions are declined in an imaginary that largely takes inspiration from the reality of our everyday life. Just think of my series „Mysterious Routine“, a series of characters sitting inside a modern bus, made using pieces of Renaissance paintings.
Who/What have been your mentors/teachers?
I am self-taught, which in part I think has saved me from the risks of the „academy“ and the risk of losing the signs and the language I was lucky enough to find myself naturally with since I was young. I am grateful, however, to my parents who were able to recognize and support this pre-disposition without forcing upon it.
My father Enzo in particular (an internationally renowned photographer) was and still is an artistic and moral model for me, a great teacher, an inspiration, as well as a friend and a travel companion from whom I have learned a lot about the shape, the sign and the freedom of artistic experimentation.
From the theatre to television and animation films to the printed page; from pop music, to classical music and more. How do you approach the projects in such different „ambients“? Is there a media you prefer working with? If so why?
My language tends continuously to contamination. The various „drifts“ I have undertaken over the years have all been natural evolutions of a journey begun with traditional painting. Initially I started using digital technologies to summarize the creative process in its development. A technique that I call „pictorial metamorphosis“ was born when my father showed me the documentary: The mystery of Picasso.
The pictorial animation arrived only later, when I felt the need to „animate“ my characters, my paintings and my collages. My pictorial animation and my video scenography is mostly my pictorial works and moving collages. There is no particular field I prefer, the only criterion is the freedom I enjoy in these situations. Obviously, the more I am free from various conditions, the happier I am and I think this always affects the result obtained.
What advantages have the new electronic technologies brought on for creative mutimedia artists like you?
My relationship with the digital world is very strong, although always starting from an analogical base. I believe that in many ways this is an unhappy era for contemporary art, where bluffs abound and often the excess or the end is found to be „an end for the sake of it“. However, I must admit that being born in the digital age was a great fortune for me: I was able to experiment with technologies that did not exist or had exorbitant costs until a few years ago. Just think of pictorial animation or collage or video projections. I believe that the fact of living in this time is the face of my art and my research in the digital and interactive media, a sort of small link between tradition and modernity.
You have created a marvellously interactive app named Mixerpiece. Why did you make it and how did you develop it?
Mixerpiece was born as a creative and educational application able to bring children closer to contemporary art. For years I had this project in mind and the opportunity came after a large permanent installation that I made in the waiting room of the Meyer Pediatric Hospital in Florence, where I also designed an app for hospital children. On that occasion I finally approached the world of teaching and applications and then I finally managed to realize my project.
However, Mixerpiece is not just a children’s app, but it is also a powerful creative tool for adults and even professionals: it is a sort of digital magnetic board with a series of elements, collected in categories, that can be combined to create new collages with infinite and very surprising creative possibilities. The peculiarity is that all these elements are extrapolated from famous masterpieces of art of all the centuries.
If you make ‚long tap‘ on an element you open a card that shows the work from which the piece has been extrapolated and some insights. Creatively speaking the most exciting feature is the ability to change your collage by shaking the iPad, which automatically creates new combinations of pieces starting from the outline of the first illustration created.
What are you presenting at the Mori Gallery in Parma, Italy?
There will be various works on exhibition, from my digital collages, drawings, ceramics to some works that I would call sculptural. The exhibition will end with the screening of my video The Kiss, a passionate kiss collage (made using 60 collages composed of pieces of work by great masters of the Renaissance), a metaphor for the ambiguity and mutability of Eros and human sexuality.
The project presented is an evolution of the theme of the grotesque and the newspaper, a theme dear to me. I like to talk, sometimes even in a rather brutal and disquieting way, of what surrounds us.
I believe it can be defined a work on identity and its grotesque manifestations, a changing identity consisting of endless fragments in constant change. I would like to thank Virginio Mori and Giorgia Ori (curator) for this opportunity to show my latest work.
What other projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on a video set design for a play by Lucia Poli directed by Angelo Bruno Savelli and I’m working on a pictorial video mapping project for a table.
At the same time I’m planning a „Pro“ edition of my ‚Mixerpiece‘ application and I am carrying on with my work as an illustrator, collaborating regularly with some newspapers including Le Monde.