Interview with Beppe Giacobbe

An interview with award winning, Italian artist Beppe Giacobbe.

“It is clear that the harmony of colors is based only on one principle: effective contact with the soul”, Vasily Kandinsky A quote that sounds like a mantra to many .. is it also a mantra for you? Tell me about the colour, or rather your colors: white, red and black.

Color is light and shadow as human feelings are, but to obtain certain results you need to know their properties. Kandinsky’s phrase could be misleading and suggest that the choice of a color is dictated by feelings, while it is a patient searching for the right degree of saturation and contrast in relation to the neighboring color and the reading hierarchy to be obtained. Everything is math and feeling. In the digital world there are nothing but numbers but without knowing the mathematical relationships between colors and their symbolic meaning, it is like navigating the open sea without a compass. White, red and black are the primary and ancestral colours, for me they are an exercise in synthesis, when it works in red, black and white, it just works. In Sicily as a child I saw blood for the first time: at Easter my grandmother prepared kid and the blood filled a white basin and became only colour: RED. Emotions.. blood that moves.

How much did abstract art influence your formative years?

As a student, very little. I preferred to draw the body, the figure in its monumentality, I observed and copied Michelangelo, Piero della Francesca, I studied the Great.

I discovered abstract and color in thirteenth-century painting.

I am surprised by the abstraction of nature. I think of Mondrian who transforms the tree into a grid of lines and comes to the end of his life to represent the boogie woogie. I like the popular and universal abstractionism of flags that with a few colors and lines reaches a maximum synthesis that expresses strong feelings.

I know that an image can touch the nerves and make them vibrate like strings, and sometimes I feel like I can.

Among your references, figures such as Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Saul Steinberg, Brad Holland and not least Milton Glaser emerges, artists from whom you have drawn different inspirations. But tell us about the places, especially about your memory, that have been a source of inspiration.

For me the place of color is the Mediterranean. It is no coincidence that great art was born here, but also in the north there have been artists who perhaps precisely because of the need and the search for that light have created important works. The Grand Tour was a journey undertaken by intellectuals and artists towards monuments and history, but in their tales, the light and colors of the Mediterranean are always the protagonists. Then the sea as a metaphor, perhaps I mean the Mediterranean just as that sea, that sea-inside, just as Rumi describes it: “I want a heart like hell that suffocates the fire of hell disrupts two hundred seas and does not flee from the waves!

Many see surreal components in your work, oneiric at the limit of reality. But from your words something else emerges.. you talk about the golden section, the Fibonacci number sequence and you compare the personality of a face to a mathematical formula. Behind graphic solutions that wink at surrealism there is a mathematical rigour .. how much rationality is there behind your work?

More than rationality, I would speak of proportions, colour, shape, I would speak of exactness. When you draw a face, moving an eyebrow one millimeter changes its expression because the numerical ratios between its components are as exact and unique as the fingerprint. Yet if you trace a photograph you do not automatically obtain the similarity, on the other hand the caricature exacerbates the proportions but never changes those ratios. Accuracy, as Italo Calvino says, is a feather on the scales. The nuance of a glance is the result of countless microscopic displacements that have their own topography. Entering the ever smaller infinity is like the pursuit of happiness which in drawing is a matter of doses, caliber and millimeters. The images have a body, a sex (male or female), an emotion and an intelligence. The body is the message and the need; sex is form, composition and dynamics; emotion is color and matter; intelligence is the game and the quotation.

The illustration in the editorial field visually represents a text, translates a complex system of signs into an image. Always “maid” of the written word and even before the oral one, today it redeems itself and becomes the protagonist, as many editorial cases demonstrate. The editorial line of many current periodicals is changing and tends towards a common goal. As a reader, how do you see this evolution?

I find it difficult to observe the evolution from the reader’s point of view, I have been on the other side of the fence for too long. I think it is right that a newspaper deals with visual perception. The readership is decreasing more and more and perhaps this is the reason why we aim at the image as bait and the synergy between words and images becomes stronger if a tension is created, rather than a note in unison. In recent years I have seen the percentages of use of illustration increase and at other times decrease, but what has steadily risen is the respect for the author and the recognition of a real collaboration between different languages ​​that meet and communicate in print. The fruition changes, just as the relationship between perception and time changes. Seeing becomes a kind of automatism. Does the image have a greater responsibility today than in the past? Maybe, as I said, the readers decrease and we try to attract them in many ways, but an image has the task of touching the sensitive strings, it must resonate, sometimes screech, it must surprise and tell, but it can do it on different tracks, which are the various and many visual languages. A broken circle is more interesting than a whole circle: in its exactness and rigour the image must have a defect, an overturning that causes a “nervous” reaction in the reader.

View Beppe’s portfolio here

Credits: Text translated from an interview on Art Tribune

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