Sometimes it rains on Nea. But, as someone used to say, “When it rains or shines it’s just a state of mind”. Well, let me tell you, everything is a state of mind, on Nea.
Today, under the unpredictable raindrops, in the darkness of some of my thoughts, I suddenly found some lights that clear up my blue sky. And for the fact that I’m never going to stop the rain by complaining, I chose to follow those glimmers.
Where will they take me?
The lights are off now, I can see no true coluors, only black and white. This is how I perceive my image through a broken glass.
I don’t really know where I belong to, I can’t tell where is my place, I only know I’m floating on the misty clouds. And I don’t have the ground under my feet, something lifts me up, it’s them to fly in me.
I still don’t know who I am, I honestly don’t realize if it’s me, I only see I’m dancing in my threatening sky.
I don’t smell Hell below my feet, I don’t sense Heaven above my eyes, I only know I’m rotting in my no-land mind.
The lights are on. An it seems like I’m waking up.
I finally find myself in a surreal and magical landascape. It really explodes in my stomach. And someone’s giving me his hand to help me get up.
C.N. “Hi, Tommy. It’s a pleasure for me to meet you here.”
He looks at me with shy eyes, turning down his head.
C.N. “Let’s take a walk. Would you come along with me?”
Tommy says yes with his smile. We start talking about his inner world.
C.N. It is clear that Magritte is one of your Masters. What kind of influence has he had on your creative poetics?
T.I. For me it feels very important to acknowledge that my art isn’t existing in a void and to study different fields of art, to better understand the roots of my visual language and references and to improve my work. But I can’t really say that I’ve studied Magritte’s work in great detail, somehow I’ve never felt strongly drawn to it. However, there is no denying that his work is very important and has had great impact on all visual arts coming after. In that sense of course it has had a great influence on me indirectly. Magritte’s work is an important part of our collective visual universe.
C.N. In Magritte’s paintings the role of the Human Being (identified with a male suit) in the society in contrast with his inner world is a powerful key for
interpretation. In your works, it seems to me that here’s a new chance for mankind: we can finally understand that we are “machine-made” and work on it. Isn’t it right?
T.I. I think that any self reflecting work will stumble over and cover the same questions and concepts, for example the individuals role in society or what the essence of “me” is. I can’t really say that I figured out my own answers and my work is very much based in emotions, I try not to intellectualize it too much and leave the interpretation to the viewer. Your interpretation is as valid as mine.
C.N. What’s heavy in your characters’ head? And what’s light, instead?
T.I. Although I always have a concrete idea behind my pictures, with time my perspectives changed and my original stories fade away and become replaced with new interpretations. So there is really no “right” interpretation. The true content or narrative of art I think should be what the viewer sees in a picture in this moment and mindset.
C.N. According to you, man’s roots are in his intellectual elevation (“Change”) or in his connection with the Earth (“Forever”)?
T.I. I think both are equally important, and if you think about it, you can’t really have one without the other.
C.N. Being a Surrealist artist, in a way, why did you choose to work with black and white?
T.I. I use b&w because I love the aesthetics, the subtlety of tones, the play between shadow and light. But maybe more importantly, adding color to these images would not improve them, the colors would just be there without any purpose, or even distracting the viewer from really seeing the picture. This is the same reason I try to make simple, scaled back compositions with few elements, where every part adds to the story. Sometimes less is more.
C.N. I found so many references, in your photos, to a spiritual evolution along the way of initiation. What’s the role of Art in this path?
T.I. I strongly feel that creating or consuming art, anything that makes you stop and think for a while, that makes you focus on what’s going on inside of you and maybe helps you understand yourself a bit more is very important.
About six years ago, during a rough period of my life, I started creating these surreal photo montages dealing with my feelings and inner life. Although I have always felt a “need” to create I don’t think I ever thought it to be about more than just creating pretty pictures. This time it was different, it was a way for me to try to sort out what was going on inside me, I stopped trying to make what I thought was “art” or “good photography” to others and made pictures just for me, because I needed to. I stopped caring about what other people might think of my work. By crossing that line I was free to tell my own stories, and by crossing the line from photography into photo montages I had the tools to actually tell those stories.
I started making my art as a form of self therapy. What it really did was force me to self-reflect, to start question my values and way of life, to ask myself the hard questions about life, death and the meaning of it all. But self reflection is no easy task, for me it happened out of necessity, but I think generally we don’t want to think about these things, we surround ourselves with distractions just to avoid being alone with our thoughts and we are spoon fed quick fixes; “if you buy this car you’ll be happy”, “if you lose that extra weight you’ll be happy”, “you need a new kitchen, that will surely make you happy”. Of course this still happens to me, but my art helps me focus and acts as a counterpart.
C.N. What does balance mean to you?
T.I. Although it doesn’t necessary needs to be so, I feel that the concept of balance somehow is something positive and very central, but much like with the physical meaning of the word, is something fragile and hard to achieve. Visually it’s a very strong tool to use both as an aesthetic and a narrative device.
And this is how we get through the road. No more drops at the end of the rainbow. We leave each other’s hand and say goodbye.
We must trust ourselves and start believing our hearts.
(Per la supervisione della traduzione in lingua inglese ringrazio di cuore Madelaine Kuns&Francesco Bruschini)