Valerio has been creating and changing his mixed media style for 10 years. Based in Italy his works deal with a range of subjects from sex, love and death to celebrity and martyrism.
He spoke to us exclusively this week from Rome.
How did you first get involved in creating art?
I started appreciating art thanks to Gidget Gein’s art. Gidget was the former bass player of Marilyn Manson, which was at the time one of my favourite bands. I got to contact him and we became friends very quickly, he even gifted me with a portrait which I’m very proud of. Gidget was a big inspiration, he was very supportive and he loved what I do, unfortunately he left us some years ago. I’ll always remember him and I consider him my mentor.
I started creating visuals with photoshop, I would edit images trying different things, mixing pictures with words and experimenting with different things but it quickly felt limited, my will to create something more concrete got the best and I started to paint, it was exactly ten years ago.
Your style has changed quite dramatically over the years, from the watercolour/sketch pieces through to silkscreen pop works - you abandoned those styles and now work on mixed media experimental drawings and minimalist pieces, how did the process change and what made you make that decision?
Part of life is evolving and changing, and well that’s what happened. It’s also part of finding the best way to convey the message you want to express at that particular time of your life. My first love was pop art, but recycling imagery that was already been recycled by the pop art movement 50 years back from now bored me at some point. Then came street art, stencils and serigraphy and everyone was basically doing the same thing. I felt the need to express emotions and states of mind, and this sort of abstract expressionist thing I’m doing now really reflects that.
Can you tell me about your newer style, it appears very emotional?
This is what I needed, expressing feelings. I’m deeply fascinated by abstract expressionism above all other styles, I find fascinating how artists like Cy Twombly created a whole language out of paint splatters, scribbles and gestures in painting. At some point, something clicked in me, and I was able to find a new visual alphabet to put on paper. And yes, it’s emotions. We live in a very material and superficial world and people are progressively losing contact with their instinct and emotions. It’s also therapeutic for me, you may have noticed the subject matter of 90% of my newer drawings is not about sunshine and flowers. I’m trying to let go… there’s always something or someone to let go …
What keeps you going with your art?
Love and hate. What’s life without creating? The thing I’m scared the most is being forgotten, and creating leaves something both material and spiritual for people to remember you. Painting is also documenting your present, and looking back brings back memories and emotions that wouldn’t otherwise be easily evoked.
Do you have a favourite piece you’ve created?
I have favourites from all of my eras but I think the one that stands out is Charles, Oh Charles. It’s just perfect in my opinion, I’m not even sure I would ever sell it.
What is your favourite work by another artist?
I think the artworks are mirrors of artist’s lives. Modigliani is one of my favorites in this sense. I love watching his art and thinking about his life, struggling to find recognition and dying without being able to know the success that was waiting.
You used to create a lot of porn based pieces, do you have a favourite porn star?
I would get into a lot of erotic artshows some years ago, I always thought depicting sex in its crudest form was something interesting and provoking so in my production I ended up doing a lot of paintings of boobs and penetrations. By the way yes, I have a favourite pornstar, it’s April O’ Neil. She is gorgeous.
What is the art scene like now in Italy?
I kind of lost contact with the Italian art scene . I rarely participate in artshows lately, and when it happens it’s usually abroad. We have some great artists though but I’m kind of an outsider. I don’t like faking social interactions for a career in the art world, I just don’t care much really and faking things is not is my skillset.
You’ve been involved in so many exhibitions over the years, looking back, is there one that stands out for you?
The Caput Mundi Pop artshow at MondoPop in 2008. I do most of the artshows abroad and I never have the chance to go at the openings. That one was in Rome, it was a big show and of course I was there. There were some important guests like Nana from the Suicide Girls, Bugo, IceOne djing and many other interesting people from the scene. I was very excited. I also got into street art thanks to that show, for this project the artists were asked to hit the streets to create some buzz around the show and It’s funny how one of my paper posters ended up on google maps (SEE IT HERE) . Right place, right time.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m trying to figure out what’s next actually. I often switch from art, to music or video. I also rest for months sometimes. So you never know what’s next. It may be a new beginning . Feels like it will be…
Do you listen to music when you create?
Absolutely, music fuels creativity in so many ways. I always have the music on when I’m creating. The lyrics of the song that reflect my state of mind at that particular moment usually inspire the visuals and the content of the painting. I have music on right now.
You can see more of Valerio's work on his website: