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1. Hello FRANCESCO RUSPOLI. What is your background? What experiences have influenced your work the most?
Genuine artists are born an artist, and this comes with a compulsion that pushes you to find and express yourself in the medium that truly manifests your vision. For me, I found painting with oil and canvas, and it found me! I love the rich texture of oil paint, and the way it can be blended to create wonderful effects without drying instantly. It is like sculpting with paint: you can rework it many times until you are satisfied with how every nuance of expression has been moulded into form and colour. The creative process itself is alive, fluid and plastic; oils reflect this essential character. For me, painting on canvas is the noblest of all art forms, summoning creation directly from the soul.
My first passion was surrealism. I was captivated by how Dali, Magritte and their peers created an imaginary world that challenges our sometimes unthought sense of truth and reality. Then I discovered the power of colours, their capacity to express feelings, transform moods and heal the mind. slowly moved me towards abstraction with the full use of shapes and volumes. This phase was inspired by Kokoschka and Matisse, who worked in the city of my upbringing – Nice. After this, I found my own artistic voice.
My mature work integrates this artistic voyage by combining figuration with a twist of abstraction. I am pushing this boundary even further by creating an effect similar to stained-glass windows, which inspire the worshippers in churches to meditate, pray, reflect and to grow in spiritual awareness. They represent a window into another world, a deeper sense of reality, where emotions and the soul are no longer excluded. These recent paintings endeavour to put this vision into practice so viewers can feel the painting speaking directly to them, and at the same time moves them profoundly. It is my hope that they will feel uplifted and inspired by this.
2. How do you convey messages with art?
For me, art expresses a fundamental part of what it means to be human. It is through art that the conflicts of life can be brought to the surface, explored, better understood and put into new relaionships with each other. I believe we are living in an unprecedented time of breakdown in human relationships and interactions. This is happening from the individual and personal level to the opposite geopolitical end of the spectrum. We tend to think of interactivity in terms of technology these days rather than human feeling and connection.
I am fascinated by the entire spectrum of human interaction; this includes the viewer, the painting and me. I am also intrigued by the way contemporary society is evolving so I reflect on social environments, familial cells and social classes. The emphasis is on relating rather than individualism, so the characters do not have faces. The sensibility for each individual is created and expressed by the position of the human shape connected with others. This way, the viewer brings their life experience and it projects onto the painting in a unique and special way.
My work seeks to reconnect people and make us more aware of what I call ‘relational space’ – the shared space where our relationships with other people play out. Vivid colours stand for powerful emotional states and the dance-like expressive postures of the figures enact the complex tensions and interdependency of human interaction. All of these aspects coalesce into an exploration of relational space and its shifting possibilities in contemporary society.
Each of my paintings invites the viewer to reflect on what they might be projecting onto the image, and to contemplate the emotional experience of what it means to be human in 2019.
3. You were selected for Artness Contemporary Interview Artist. Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
I feel deeply aligned with the vision of Artness Contemporary. It not only reflects the major themes of my work, but also connects to the purpose behind it. We need to be more compassionate towards our fellow human beings however different we might believe them to be. Mental illness is a serious and tragic problem whose increase suggests that there is something fundamentally wrong with contemporary society. It has been made worse by neglect, ignorance and lack of resources. We are separating ourselves from the real world we share with others in order to find refuge in parallel lives on social media. Sadly, this is only encouraging an unhealthy, self-absorbed narcissism whilst ignoring what is most important and precious in life: our relationships.
4. Can you tell us about your upcoming projects? What issues do you plan to produce?
I am currently engaged with several highly successful and exciting international projects. This enacts my wish to reach out to different cultures to share a message universal to all human beings over the world. I have a solo exhibition with Galerie Ludwig Trossaert in Antwerp, Belgium. I am also represented in various group shows across the globe. In New York, my work is currently being shown at Art Expo New York with the Mecenavie Gallery. In the Far East, I am exhibiting at the Tokyo Art Fair, and also in the Yukyung Art Museum and the Haegeumgand Museum, both in South Korea. These build on my long and strongly established reputation in Europe, where my work continues to be shown across the continent. This year, my work is additionally showing at the International Art Fair Kunst Schimmer 7 in Ulm, Germany and the Swiss Art Expo in the Artbox Project Gallery in Zurich, Switzerland. Newly in Denmark, my work is being exhibited in Copenhagen, Aalborg and Aarhus with Jarsboart Gallery.
I am also starting work on producing a top-quality coffee-table book which contains my important works alongside a critical commentary of my artistic development. It will sum up my life’s work so far and it represents a milestone in my evolving artistic profile.
In addition to these projects as a practising international artist, I have wider ethical and humanitarian commitments. I have a long-nurtured ambition to set up a foundation to support and promote artists from deprived backgrounds. I am also seeking ways to use my art to help with homelessness, with people who are excluded and lonely, and with animal welfare.
5. Could you please share your messages to global art market in your approach?
My art is meant to re-invigorate and re-inspire the emotional and spiritual dimensions of human life, which is in direct conflict with much of what we see around us in our world now. It has taken me many years to find my creative voice, and a large part of this has been a struggle against such commercial forces. They are very powerful and insidious, and institutionally dismiss or ignore what they cannot appreciate.
The relational concern of my work is intended to embrace all viewers, so their interpretations are equally meaningful. The act of viewing is to enter into a relationship: a mutual encounter of the painting and the viewer. This is why the figures in my work are placed so viscerally in relation to each other, and why this stimulates a reflection on relatedness which encompasses the viewer.
A vital part of interpretation is our emotional response, which incidentally is not solely the preserve of a ‘refined’ academic elite. The experience of viewing and relating is the true essence of my paintings, so I hope my work is able to offer that precise experience to the viewer. You could say my message, theme and vision is to co-create an experience of emotional connection – whatever it might be – on that precise moment of that particular day, with this unique person in this specific space.