18.04.2024 #art

Guglielmo Castelli

I am a painter who arrives at figuration through abstraction

«It’s more intriguing to find an escape route within the mazes we create for ourselves. For me, 2 plus 2 doesn’t always have to make 4»

Guglielmo Castelli is one of the most rapidly rising Italian painters on the artistic scene. Thanks to a consistent growth over time, he has never experienced setbacks or upheavals. To crown this success devoid of impurities, two spectacular exhibitions are now taking place in the prestigious settings of Villa Medici in Rome and the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa in Venice. The first, part of the Art Club series, is curated by Pier Paolo Pancotto and will conclude on May 19th, while the second, cryptically titled “Improving Songs for Anxious Children,” curated by Milovan Farronato, opens during the “hot” days of the Venice Biennale. It’s a sort of place to be for those orbiting in the constellation of creativity. Born in Turin 36 years ago, with a past as an illustrator for Vogue Italia, Guglielmo signs nostalgic canvases where anthropomorphic figures and strange animals blend like clay with other natural elements and scenes of everyday life. It’s a dense cocktail where abstraction veers towards the figurative and vice versa. It’s difficult to understand which action came first. Castelli himself provides us with some keys to access his refined poetic, drawing inspiration from Vuillard, Leon Spillaert, and Brueghel. We meet him at the Giardini during the opening days of the Venice Biennale.

How would you define your painting?

Guglielmo Castelli :

«I am a painter who achieves figuration through abstraction»

You’ve described your current artistic phase as “polite creative anarchy”. Can you explain further?

Guglielmo Castelli :

«I grew up with a rigid education and this gave me the opportunity to set off fires within the same limitations I imposed on myself. I consider it more intriguing to find escape routes within traps and labyrinths. Sometimes it is even possible to invent these escape routes, other times it is possible to change the rules of the game to your liking. For me 2 plus 2 doesn’t always have to equal 4»

Your photos are often full of strange characters, fairies, mermaids and animal creatures: how should one behave with a fairy?

Guglielmo Castelli :

«I’ve never liked fairies. My characters are often mistaken for creatures coming from “dream” worlds, a word that has no correspondence in my work. In reality my creatures are very aware of themselves and have a gravitational force that anchors them to the ground, leads them to give in and fall, to go deeper and cling to each other»

You are one of the few painters capable of treating the body like a landscape. How much of your past as a set designer has remained in the canvases?

Guglielmo Castelli :

«Set design has allowed me to define myself as a painter, not so much because the set designer outlines scenic landscapes, but because the body occupies a space of competence which is also a space of research. The scenography made me understand that if I had treated the human body as scenic and chromatic mappings I would have given my painting a chance»

How much does the power of the image influence the universe of art today?

Guglielmo Castelli :

«I don’t know if the word “conditioning” is the most appropriate term. Above all, I don’t think appearance conditions the art world: it probably influences the more superficial. Never before have images had such great power as in this historical period. But everything for me is slowly diminishing. The only real force to which I submit, prostrating myself, is canvas and color»

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Guglielmo Castelli :

«Mainly from literature, which has always allowed me the luxury of digging into other people’s stories»

The most inspiring place?

Guglielmo Castelli :

«The markets and bookstores»

Where will you be in twenty years?

Guglielmo Castelli :

«In my studio, working».

Intervista: Germano D’Acquisto

Ritratti di Guglielmo Castelli: Ludovica Arcero

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