It’s probably the best place I’ve never been. 

Who would turn down a trip there?  To roam the canals of Venice, bike the hills of Tuscany or stroll the shops in Milano.  Ahhh … What a dream.

Yet for me, the real thrill would be Rome, Florence and the allure of art.  How could anyone visit this country and not cavort with Caravaggio or dine with da Vinci? 

Is there any country that has contributed as much culture to the world as that boot-shaped (high-heeled, of course) place?  I think not.  If possible, I would live on cannelloni and cannoli alone.  But just getting there is the trick.  As usual, it’s about time and money.  Being homeless there can’t be a good gig, but I might consider it … for a couple of days.

Human limitations suck, don’t they?  Yet, even though I’ve never been there, Italy makes my spirit soar.  How can it not when considering the Sistine Chapel ... or the smile of Mona Lisa?  I refuse to believe that she’s really a dude.

Anyway, I guess I was in an Italian state of mind when I stumbled upon a new artist.  Actually, I think he sent me an email.  It was Manuel Olivares of Naples  

To live in a place so steeped in history and culture, Manuel is one of the most contemporary artists I’ve come across.  His work is so “in your face” and unapologetically fresh, glamorous and modern.  He’s a painter who concocts these huge, color bursting, tight shot images of gleaming, shiny, architecturally-influenced structures that are straight out of some cinematic fantasy of life on steroids.  They’re free and fluid … almost liquid.  They’re racy and graphic … almost photographic … but not pornographic … although he could easily move in that direction.  What goes on in this dude’s head?  I asked him …

“I made ​​my art my life, inspiration comes out from this position rather than by individual objects or situations,” Manuel told me.  “No matter what I observe, everything is potentially a source of inspiration. I do not possess the problem of the (contemporary nature) of what I do in art. What I believe is important, for an artist, is to be contemporary himself.”

He went on to tell me ...

“You have mentioned the sensuality reflected in my works; well, my passion for women, for example, doesn’t necessarily come from the sex scenes (which never fail).  More often, I like to convey the sensual attraction to this I'm creating. What I paint has to suggest to me the desire to touch the canvas and physically possess the object of desire. I like to paint objects and situations that normally do not attract the eye.  What is beautiful in itself does not attract me pictorially. It is as if, regards to these objects, I arrived too late. My enthusiasm must override the situation. In Italy we say, "love is blind.” I love my life!”

Hmm, Is it possible not to love your life when you live in Italy?  I’m sure it is, but have you ever heard anyone say, “I hate Italy”?

Manuel’s work is also influenced by the work of his father who was an architect.  You can clearly see this in the curves, lines and structural tendencies of his paintings.  To me, they’re almost like organic blueprints with hot chicks thrown in for fun.

“I do not try to do my work glamorous,” said Manuel.  “As I mentioned before, I do not care if what I represent is contemporary or not. Light poles, cars, windows, buildings are my landscapes. What interests me is their attitude, the way in which they arise in the eyes of the viewer ... full of color, clean and hyper-excited by their modernity alone!”

He plays back and forth with shadow and light which are top priorities in his work.  And while his work is super contemporary, Manuel convinced me that being “hip” and “today” are ... ironically ... not his goals.   

“The ancient is an important aspect of my work,” Manuel said.  “I am attracted by everything that has a past, no matter its historical importance. What attracts me is the past ... a past seen as depth rather than as antiques. An important historic site, visited by many tourists, does not have the same "appeal" of a site abandoned. Looking at an abandoned object, I feel a similar emotion ... it’s like, once the functional “life” ends, the object acquires a narrative power ... Regarding my country, this certainly influences my work ...”

Spoken like a true, proud Italian.  I guess I’ll live vicariously through Manuel and his vision ... until I can get to Italy myself.  In my eyes, his work is what happens when super-cool modern meets rustic antiquity.

That’s Manuel.

Manuel Olivares has his work posted on several different art websites.  Here’s one sample ... take a look at his work for yourself ... and see what I mean.