Vito Stramaglia is an Italian artist of great talent and emotional depth. His paintings http://www.vitostramaglia.com/ are very moody and imaginative. I had a great time chatting with him about what inspires him to paint. He comes from a family of painters in a country where emerging artists like him are carrying on the traditions of the old masters…
“…Art, real art, is something that comes directly from God and sees into the future, helping us to understand many things. It should be for everyone, democratic, because it must help all …”
MICHAEL: Hello Vito, Your work is very cool. The figures in your paintings and even the landscapes are dark, moody and brooding. They seem to be awash in melancholia. It looks like it's raining down on them forever. Why do you do this?
VITO: When I paint, the only certainty I have is to not use the mind, but the heart, then the rationality disappears and gives way to introspection and then, the soul chooses the subjects and the manner of representing them.
MICHAEL: And so, you are painting from what's inside of you and from your heart. What is inside your heart? Is it love, sadness? What are these emotions when you are painting?
VITO: Inside me there is life, the eternal dualism, and in my heart there is a lot of love with all its infinite representations and never missing the sadness that, as in Greek tragedy, there always accompanies.
MICHAEL: You use a lot of dark colors in your paintings and the people in your paintings either have their eyes closed or they are asleep. What does this mean?
VITO: There is very dark to bring out the light. I learned this from the great masters of the past. My characters are undefined because I think that form is just an invention of rationality and instead, we are all connected in each other. Often my figures have their eyes closed as if in a state of meditation.
MICHAEL: You come from a family of artists and from a country of old masters. Does being Italian put more pressure on you to be a great painter? Is it okay for an Italian painter to fail?
VITO: Yes, in fact, when I was a child, I refused the art. I have done for many years the professional boxer, but suddenly, inside me painting shouting too loud and I had to give him a hearing. I left boxing and now I'm a full-time painter and I have no regrets. I do not care success, because I'm not afraid to fail, I never expect anything.
MICHAEL: Wow. You were a boxer? Is there a connection at all between boxing and art? Did you learn any lessons in boxing that you use in painting?
VITO: I did boxing because I wanted to face my fears. I did it by choosing an opponent outside, but now I understand that the enemy is inside us and that we must not beat it, but only talk to him to find peace. The war has never brought any advantage.
MICHAEL: Where are you? Rome? Milan? Florence? How does your environment influence your work? What's the art scene like where you live? Is contemporary art important there?
VITO: I'm in Southern Italy, Apulia, a beautiful land. I lived a few years in Florence and after that, I preferred the Apulia for the warmer weather and I realized that the peace that is here helps me to be more introspective and meditative. Here in the south, contemporary art does not really matter because it is run by insensitive and ignorant people and lovers of art do not feel involved. However, I do not worry because now I have the luck of the internet and recently I started using it to let people know. In Italy, the contemporary art center is Milan. I recently had a show there.
MICHAEL: Vito, I think that I can say that the internet has brought us together here! Why do you care so much about art? Why should people care? Most people don't buy art because they are trying to pay their bills. How can art help them?
VITO: Art, real art, is something that comes directly from God and sees into the future, helping us to understand many things. It should be for everyone, democratic, because it must help all. I am opposed to private collectors, because it takes away from the world the opportunity to take advantage of the divine; it is as if the Sistine Chapel could see only a few privileged, or as if the Ninth Symphony could be listened by a few people. It would be a shame, but I realize that behind the art there are very large markets for business and I am only a part of this and I have to sell my work to anyone to live.
MICHAEL: You know Vito, I think that the whole world would appreciate art more if the other nations of the world were more like Italy. Such a little country, but so much art and culture! How can more countries be like Italy with art and culture?
VITO: This is a particular question ... I think in Italy and a little across Europe, there is a very strong energy and I cannot explain ... but you are right to think that if people should look more at the art in the world, everyone would learn what the most important things are; that the only thing that dominates the lives of all of us and the whole universe is love. You know Michael, I only realized this in my life ... without love, there is no happiness without love there is ART.
MICHAEL: Finally Vito, when people look at your work, what do you want them to see? Many people do not understand art. What are you saying to them?
VITO: I think that the work that comes out of my hands is the result of something bigger than me and amazes me when I look at it. I'm just a performer. I wish these works convey to the world what they transmit to me; the beauty of life, where nothing can be explained and everything is in balance with extreme gratitude and deep love.
MICHAEL: Thanks Vito. This has been great.
VITO: Thanks to you, Michael. I hope I conveyed my thoughts. A big hug.
Check out Vito Stramaglia at http://www.vitostramaglia.com/.