ASK ARTISTS: FABIANO GAGLIANO
Interview conducted by JULIA TRAVERS, October 2017
Fabiano Gagliano creates reverent colored pencil portraits, often using high
contrast lighting. His works usually depict women who appear ethereal, symbolic
and corporeal all at once. With eyes sometimes lowered, sometimes engaged off of
the canvas and sometimes confronting the viewer fiercely, his subjects have the
air of the muse — conveying a sense of both intimacy and withholding. These
powerful portrayals celebrate feminine beauty and also leave the viewer curious
about the women’s rich and mysterious inner worlds.
What is art to you?
Art is Magic; is contemplation of the invisible through visible things. It has always been, before being subject of interest and studies, before the commercial instinct of dealers and merchants, from the first cave murals to ancient Egypt to the Greek sculpture. What we call art today is but a pallid shadow of what it used to be. To me as an artist, creating is at the same time a physical and mental need and an act of purification, a soaring to the reign of Ideas. It needs constant practice, and absolutely requires the deepening of one’s personality and knowledge, besides a great discipline, as it was in the days of Tradition.
What did you make in the past and why?
I’ve always drawn things; I am the only son so I had a great deal of loneliness as a kid. I used to spend days alone reading and drawing on every possible surface, house walls included. It all started with comics. Then I was fascinated by book illustrators, which led me to fine art and to my love for the symbolist painters and the so-called old masters. Growing up, I attended art school where I also studied painting techniques. After that, I switched to the theoretical side, graduating in History of Art. I stopped drawing or painting anything for almost ten years, concentrating only on the music — my other passion — recording three albums and touring with my former band. I went back into making art in early 2010 after a depression crisis, realizing how much I missed it. It was weird because I felt like I had to re-learn the basics, but never stopped since then, and don’t want to.
What are you making now and why?
My medium of choice is colored pencils and I am always concentrating on my understanding of their expressive possibilities. When I started or I might say re-started, I delved into those artists of the past who made great use of this medium, studying them a lot, trying to discover how they achieved some effects, especially those who gravitated around the symbolism circle, like Fernand Khnopff, Jean Delville, Carlos Schwabe, Alexandre Séon and others … I am now trying to use this technique in conjunction with other mediums and upon different surfaces, like wood, other than different kinds of paper. One of my goals has always been to make drawings that don’t look like actual drawings but more like paintings, or maybe like some other mysterious technique that requires the viewer to have more than one look to understand.
What are your hopes for the future?
On a personal level, I am trying to show my works in public a bit more, since for many years I had no desire to do exhibitions and I have just started. About real life, about what surrounds me, I really have no positive thoughts for the future; I feel we are living in times of great mediocrity, and art is no better, its grossness reflecting the degeneration of society.
What else would you like to say?
My invitation to everyone who’s reading this: raise your soul over the vain shows of earth. Let the invisible penetrate your life. Deepen things, keep your attention high, avoid superficiality and never let habit and indifference rule your life.
THE HERO JOURNEY OF FABIANO GAGLIANO
Interview conducted by PETER DE KUSTER on January 2nd, 2018
What is the best thing that I love about my work?
The work itself: the creative process, which is at the same time a meditation, a form of self-discipline and a physical act.
What is my idea of perfect happiness?
Being alone and spend days in perfect creativity without any wordly distraction, or being with like-minded people, appreciating silence and talking about interesting things.
What is my greatest fear?
To run out of inspiration, to turn insensitive towards “the Muse”.
What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?
I feel that sometimes I am too lazy for my standards.
Which living persons in my profession do i most admire?
To be honest, the artists I admire the most are not alive anymore, some of them from quite a few decades… anyway, there still are some living contemporaries who have all my admiration: Barry Windsor-Smith, Glyn Smyth, Sarah Sheil, Saturno Buttò, Agostino Arrivabene and Toshiyuki Enoki.
What is my greatest extravagance?
I don’t know… Maybe my love for old comic books and horror movies, which most people hardly connect with my “serious” behavior.
On what occasion would I lie?
I would if something of great importance should depend from my lie.
What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?
Sometimes the financial situation isn’t one of the fairest.
When and where was I the happiest, in my work?
There are not “happy” moments I do recall, but the very moment when I start to develop ideas for new stuff is always the most exciting, and happy, I would say. To me, “happiness” is something that only comes from inside of myself and not from facts.
If I could, what would I change about myself?
Sometimes I feel that being a bit more “light minded” wouldn’t be bad… but this world is already too superficial to be taken lightly.
What is my greatest achievement in work?
As an artist, I am only interested in the representation of human figure, as a symbolic medium of higher ideas; so, being able to know and understand the human figure in its subtleties is the key.
What do the words ‘The Financial Freedom to Create’ mean to me?
The ideal situation.
Where would I most like to live?
In the land of milk and honey. Really: no places in present times.
What is my most treasured possession?
Old books, in old editions. Some of them signed by the authors.
What is my most marked characteristic?
Fortitude and Perseverance.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city?
I usually do long walks, to clear out my mind and relax, or focus upon certain things (and I must add that my city isn’t really “inspirational” in itself), so I don’t have a particular one. Just walking can be inspiring, sometimes.
What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?
No one. I rarely eat outside of home, and I’m not a “connoisseur” drinker.
What books influenced my life and how?
“The Portrait of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde, because is the book who tells everything without saying anything; “Revolt Against the Modern World” by Julius Evola, because it showed me another way of life; “Les Grands Initiés” by Edouard Schuré, because it opened my eyes towards the Invisible World; “The Mission of Art” by Jean Delville, because it opened my eyes towards Art.
Who are my favorite writers?
Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Joséphin Péladan, Virginia Woolf. You Only Die Once.
What music would I listen on my last day?
I don’t know, but I would love “Hallelujah” to be played at my funeral, in the Jeff Buckley version.
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?
Jean Floressas Des Esseintes, Chiaro Dell’Erma, Merlin.
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?
Fernand Khnopff, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Barry Windsor-Smith, Alejandro Jodorowsky.
Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime?
Jean Cocteau’s “Beauty and the Beast” and James Whale’s “Frankenstein”.
What role plays art in my life and work?
Art is the reason I wake up everyday, whether I do create something or see others’ works, or just browse through books. Art comforts, and inspires, and saves from this soulless, cacophonous, world.
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?
All the beautiful models I work with. I’d be nothing without them. Whom would I like to work with in 2018? There are a few great galleries here and there around the globe, and I would love to show my works and collaborate with them. Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2018? Meeting Barry Windsor-Smith is always something I’d really love to do…
What project, in 2018, am I looking forward to work on? / Where can you see me or my work in 2018?
I don’t like to do long-term projects; anyway, I hope to show my works in public a bit more, since for many years I had no desire to do exhibitions and I have just started.
What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?
To endure the exploration of the inner world and always learn something. Which creative heroes should Peter invite to tell their story? My friend Daniele Valeriani.
How can you contact me?
I can be reached through my website www.fabianogagliano.com or my Facebook page www.facebook.com/FabianoGaglianoArtPage.