Serafino Rudari is an artist and musician who lives in Verona, Italy.  His paintings are brilliantly colorful and poignant portraits of contemporary life.  Also, his music is timeless and classic.  You can see him playing piano on his website.  How do his art and music fit together?  Read on and find out …

MICHAEL: Hello Serafino, First of all, What are you exactly?  Are you an artist?  Musician?  Traveling man?  Writer?  Also, where are you right now?  Where do you live?  How does your environment influence your work?

SERAFINO: Hello Michael! I must say that I define myself just as an artist. That is because no matter how I express it, my life is about creating art, whether through music, painting, writing and even by travelling. I had the rare opportunity to learn various kinds of artistic expressions in my childhood and now I can fuse them together and be inspired no matter where I am or what I see or hear. You ask me where I am and where I live. It's funny you split these two questions, because you really hit the point. I'm not always where I live and vice versa. Right now, I live in my hometown close to Verona, Italy where my family workshop is.  However, I keep travelling, taking my art and my performances anywhere in the world. That is what really inspires me and brings new colours and a new sound in my life, although I never forget where I come from and always need to come back here where it all started.

MICHAEL: Why do people always say they never forget where they come from? I know that they're really referring to the values they were taught while growing up. Still aren't some places - unlike Verona - worthy of being forgotten? LOL.

SERAFINO: I am particularly fond of my hometown. Not only because my roots and family are here, but because all that I have learned has started here long before I was born. My grandfather was an artist and so were my uncles. The old workshop where I work has witnessed generations of people who have done and loved art for all their lives. Here is where I come home in the widest sense of its meaning. But yes, there might be places worthy of being forgotten. For some reasons, it has happened that a specific place in a specific time has brought more frustration than excitement and creativity. This however has always been very challenging for me. Every place or person on this earth has this “thing” inside, this opportunity to express its deepest emotions and spirit through artistic expression. And this is my goal: awakening these feelings and pass them on.

MICHAEL: Very interesting. Your paintings are very intriguing. They're delicate and seem like watercolors yet they're also architectural and seem like blueprints. What inspires you to paint?

SERAFINO: Colors! I am inspired by colors! Colors have this ability to build the world around us. Through colors, any object takes shape, even emotions and things unseen can be described and expressed. It’s a bit like speaking a different language which has no words, no sound, but yet is spoken and is so easily comprehensible. I love what I can say through colors. The possibilities are infinite. I have no limits, no restrictions, no space and time obligations. Nothing is right or wrong.

MICHAEL: While you're in front of the canvas and painting, what's going on in your mind? Is the painting process intellectual, emotional or spiritual? Do you listen to music or watch TV while you paint?

SERAFINO: It’s definitely emotional. Music and colors flow in one single expression and I use them both, together or separately to share an emotion. There is no difference for me whether I sit at the piano or if I hold a brush. I let my deepest feelings speak through my hands, whether I play or paint. But music and colors are definitely a great match. My own performance is about music and colors and I strongly believe in the union of these two expressions.

MICHAEL: Tell me about your music. Are you a pianist, singer and composer? What kind of music? Do you tour? Why is music important?

SERAFINO: I started playing the piano when I was a little boy; my mother wanted me to learn and so I remember spending afternoons with my piano teacher on the scales which I really hated. I just wanted to play and that’s what I’ve been doing since then. I compose, play, strum ... I sit at the piano and play, whatever I feel like, whatever I hear inside of me. Music is extremely important to me. It’s the fuel for my art, for my expression. My performance wouldn’t be complete if music were missing. When I perform, I literally “play” my canvas.  I use my brushes to create a rhythm that goes along with the other instruments. It’s fantastic, really. It excites me every time anew because nothing is prepared and nothing has been studied or learned before. It’s all about improvisation and spontaneity.

MICHAEL: And so, how do you make your living? Is it more through music or art? Being a full-time artist is not an easy gig. Are you also a doctor, lawyer of firefighter?

SERAFINO: I’m a full-time artist. I work with galleries that deal my paintings and communication agencies that promote my live performances. I also worked in music years ago, but now I mostly play for my own pleasure! Although, I have to admit, as a child my dream was to become a pilot. I loved airplanes and was fascinated by uniforms and the thought of flying through the clouds. I ended up giving up this dream because of severe fear of flying and as well as a major crush on brushes and colors!

MICHAEL: You recently spoke at the TED conference? What did you talk about and what was that experience like?

SERAFINO: Speaking at TED has been an honor and opportunity for me. It was the first time I had to actually talk about my art rather than communicate it through painting itself. It was challenging and new, but I was deeply enriched through this experience. I met amazing people with whom I shared the concept of “Rays of Light” to an extraordinary audience. I was touched and inspired by each one of the speeches, and how every person feels the light in different ways. Whether it’s light intended as optimism, hope or truth, to me of course, light means color, music and all the emotions that come from these beautiful languages.

MICHAEL: Finally Serafino, what's the point of all of this? Contemporary art isn't saving the world or curing cancer. Most people in the world cannot afford to buy art. Why should they even care about it?

SERAFINO: Michael, try to imagine if any of the great artists in history had ever dared thinking “What’s the point of all this?” Most probably our world would be empty today with gray and no colors. We would live today with no cure for cancer, as well as with no beauty and emotion that comes through art. How cynical and expressionless we all would be. The awe that comes from the genius of someone’s unique creativity wouldn’t exist. And the freedom of creating with our own imagination would cease. This is to me the real tragedy.  Due to the outcome of our own expression, we are all the same. There are no differences of race, sex, religion, age, social position.

However, to think this today seems to be a very brave act of faith. But history teaches us that it has always been like that. Art does not make the artist rich. Not in the economical sense at least. However, I would never trade my life and my art for anything and this is only because I strongly believe that art has a higher purpose, just as Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, beauty will save the world.

MICHAEL: That would be great.  Thanks for chatting Serafino.

SERAFINO: Thanks again for this nice experience and your patience!

Check out Serafino Rudari at