I met Francesco Ruspoli on social media. I was stunned by his paintings http://www.francesco-ruspoli.com/ which boast bold colors and deep lines. He says his work is inspired by the Old Masters. I think he’s on his way to becoming a “New Master.” Here’s our cool chat …
“Over the past centuries, art has always been part of us and if it were so useless, art would never have survived for so long in our history.”
MICHAEL: Hello Francesco, Your work is excellent and so basic yet deceptively simple. You create human figures using bold, primary colors and geometric shapes enclosed in defining, black lines. What could be more simple? Is this easy for you or difficult? It looks easy!
FRANCESCO: What seems to be very simple and easy is often not easy and simple to create. It is an art in itself to achieve this simplicity in creation I believe. When I was younger, I was filling my canvases with so many things and in the end, it was too complicated regarding the subject matter and the skills involved with the combination of colours.
The way I work now days to create a painting is done in several stages. First, I will spend a lot of time sketching for human shapes from models to museum masterpieces. Then, choosing from my sketch book the figures I like which will be reflecting at the time what I want to express on the canvas. I will compose on a bigger sketch book a drawing composing the final painting which with charcoal, I will transfer on the blank canvas. At this stage, sometimes I will add or change things to finish my composition. Then, after this process, I will choose which colour I will use to create a balance of colour, a symphony of tones and undertones. They seem to be primary colours, but they are not as I will use all the tones and undertones in one colour range to give a look of a stained glass window or the nearest to it. And at the end, I use the black lines, thinner or thicker, depending what effect and what statement I wish to express at the time.
I like to mix abstraction and figuration together. If you take from one figurative work of mine one part separately, then the painting is then fully abstract constructing geometric shapes too as you have mentioned supported by black lines.
MICHAEL: While your style has historical reference, it's also very unique. Have you always used geometric shapes, vivid color and black lines or did you develop this approach?
FRANCESCO: It was a slow development in order to feel confident enough to use bold colours in my work supported by black lines. My early works were not geometric as I went through a fully abstract period using volumes inspired by the human shapes with curves and angles. The black lines were the logical support in my paintings as punctuation is in writing.
MICHAEL: What do you like about creating human figures? Is it more satisfying than abstraction? How are you personally different as more of a representational artist?
FRANCESCO: I am not more or less different from any artist painting human figures. I am only reinterpreting and analyzing what I am seeing around me as human social groups and their interconnection among themselves. I do not paint faces as all the feelings and expressions are in the body language of each individual. Abstraction was a phase in my development. Now my interest is in the human shape and the gathering of people in social groups.
MICHAEL: How do you create your paintings? Are they interpretations of what exists in real life or do you paint from your imagination? Or both?
FRANCESCO: I create a painting from observation to start with. I look at places where I visit and the environment where I live which is a big metropolis and recreate in my style and in my language what I have seen. So it is part reality, part imagination.
MICHAEL: Where are you? London? How do your surroundings inspire you? Are all of your paintings city-inspired? Does the countryside inspire you as well?
FRANCESCO: I am in London and all of my paintings are not city-inspired. They are about human relationships anywhere in the world, in cities, in villages and in the countryside . From nature, I am getting the colour combinations for my works like animals, birds, reptiles, plants and flowers. So I am associating nature to human civilisations and cultures.
MICHAEL: Why are you an artist? You could do something else, No? What's your first memory of art? Do you come from a family of artistic people?
FRANCESCO: Why am I an artist? Because it is part of me. I am an artist, therefore, I am me. I believe you are born that way and I do not come from a family of artists, writers or musicians. I feel I am very lucky to be able to express myself and to share my experience of life, my vision and my thoughts with other people. If I could bring the viewers something they are seeking in life with my paintings, I am happy.
My first memory of art was my first painting done in my bedroom when I was a teenager. The subject matter was the sea as I was living near the sea. It was not a masterpiece, but I was very excited just by doing it. It was "MY FIRST PAINTING" and I was very proud showing it to all my friends and family. The style of the artwork was "Naif" with the use of strong colours already and I was even more excited when a person purchased it. Part of me at the time did not want to let it go as it was my first painting and I did not know if I would be able to do another one like this one, but I succeeded by painting a similar one and discovered my first "series" of works.
MICHAEL: What do you think about the art world today and how it functions? What things would you change?
FRANCESCO: The art world is doing well and still changing in fashion all the time. It will always adapt to be the same as dealers, collectors, artists and sculptors, museums and the rest will always coexist in a parallel world to the daily world of Mr. and Mrs. Everybodyelse.
MICHAEL: Finally Francesco, why art? Isn't this silly talk? Shouldn't we be talking about ways to help people or sports or something like that? What's the point of art? So many people don't even care about art!
FRANCESCO: I believe art is a way to share thoughts, feelings and experience of one human to another. It is like an open book where each one of us would find what they are searching for in their own life. Sometimes art has healing powers, sometimes art has political and religious messages, sometimes is just about enjoying. Over the past centuries, art has always been part of us and if it were so useless, art would never have survived for so long in our history. Art has many faces and it will always stay with us as a testimony or our different times of existence.
MICHAEL: Well said! Thanks Francesco!
Check out Francesco Ruspoli at http://www.francesco-ruspoli.com/.