“I CUT PA­PER TO SHARE EMO­TIONS”

He has cre­ated por­traits of fa­mous people, from David Bowie to Lady Gaga, from Obama to Spike Lee. Marco Gal­lotta is an artist who cre­ates works of art by cut­ting pa­per. Like a sur­geon he gives life to faces un­der which the in­ner self lies hid­den.

All About Italy (USA) - - Contents - Elisa Rodi

Marco Gal­lotta cre­ates art from pa­per. He does so with de­vo­tion, at­ten­tion to de­tail and an in­cred­i­ble aes­thetic sense. He is an Ital­ian from Bat­ti­paglia - in the prov­ince of Salerno. Marco chose pa­per to ex­press him­self and leave mes­sages. He does not write on pa­per, but rather cuts it in a sur­gi­cal way through the pa­per cut­ting tech­nique that has now be­come his trade­mark. In his stu­dio in Har­lem, Gal­lotta chooses faces, some fa­mous, some not. They are the cen­tral char­ac­ter of his work. Dif­fer­ent faces shar­ing a sense of the ex­tra­or­di­nary, not to be in­dif­fer­ent to­wards so­ci­ety. Marco Gal­lotta is in­deed a por­trait artist, who cre­ates por­traits in which the pa­per he uses is cut, as­sem­bled and su­per­im­posed, creat­ing a unique ef­fect that is not lim­ited to just aes­thetic, but be­comes a metaphor of the hu­man essence. Be­hind the lay­ers of pa­per that he uses are glimpses of the pu­rity of the ego and it is also for this rea­son that no por­trait is the same. When us­ing his scalpel to carve the works he cre­ates, the cuts never fol­low a drawn line be­cause his hand is led by sen­sa­tions and spon­tane­ity. The in­ci­sions that are cre­ated be­come in some way the pul­sat­ing veins of the piece. In New York Marco is in his el­e­ment, fu­eled by the vitality that the city of­fers, but he’s man­aged to keep his Ital­ian identity which has given him the cul­ture of art and in­spi­ra­tion. To­day his artis­tic lan­guage is global, in­tense and emo­tional, it’s enough to stop and ob­serve to un­der­stand him.

From the Ital­ian prov­ince to New York, from Bat­ti­paglia to West Har­lem, what does this move rep­re­sent in your artis­tic story?

When I chose to leave my city, I did it mainly be­cause of a de­sire for adventure. I have al­ways wanted to know new things, dis­cover new places and ex­pe­ri­ence cul­tures dif­fer­ent from my own.

New York, with its multi-eth­nic and mul­ti­cul­tural life, has un­doubt­edly been the place that has al­lowed me to en­rich my­self and has played a very im­por­tant role in my ca­reer. When I ar­rived in New York, at the end of the ‘90s, I started to visit artists, mostly il­lus­tra­tors, and from there I dis­cov­ered a new world. The en­ergy was in­cred­i­ble, the art was ev­ery­where and in dif­fer­ent forms. It is here, that, af­ter a short break, I started draw­ing again. My sub­jects were no longer the landscapes of Trentino and Veneto, where I had spent ear­lier years, but the chaos of the me­trop­o­lis with all its souls run­ning around quickly. New York was - and still is - one of my great­est sources of in­spi­ra­tion. New York is the ideal stage for artis­tic ex­pres­sion, it is a rare place where the cre­ativ­ity of vast cul­tural move­ments con­verge, creat­ing syn­er­gies and new stim­uli. The emo­tions I feel watch­ing what hap­pens ev­ery day, the people and in­spir­ing ar­chi­tec­ture, are re­flected in my works. It’s un­avoid­able.

Pa­per is the ma­te­rial you have cho­sen to ex­press your­self. What led you to pre­fer a frag­ile and dis­tinct ma­te­rial like this?

I’ve loved pa­per since I was a kid. I re­mem­ber that I of­ten visited a friend’s fa­ther’s ty­pog­ra­phy and I was happy. I could wan­der around pal­lets full of sheets of pa­per. There was the smooth pa­per, the rough, the colored, the parceled ... for me this place had some­thing mag­i­cal. Now I use any type of pa­per, pho­to­graphs, pages of books, old movie posters, news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines, pa­per that I find by chance. My ex­ci­sions - which I carry out with blades, fire and waxes - al­ter the vis­ual and writ­ten ma­te­rial, load­ing it with new mean­ings.

How did you work to in­no­vate the pa­per­cut­ting tech­nique?

My tech­nique is the re­sult of un­ceas­ing re­search and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. My ap­proach has been to trans­form an an­cient tech­nique, which has roots in the fourth cen­tury, and make it mod­ern and above all unique. My work, like in a sur­gi­cal op­er­a­tion, is carved with a scalpel. The re­sult is a su­per­im­po­si­tion of im­ages, to which I some­times add lay­ers of color and wax.

The cut­ting be­comes the tool to cre­ate works of art. Do sub­tract­ing and over­lap­ping be­come the for­mu­las that de­liver your per­sonal vi­sion of the world?

The goal of my cuts is to go be­yond mere ap­pear­ance and grasp the pure essence of my sub­jects. My works re­veal the ex­tra­or­di­nary and the metic­u­lous cuts and the over­lap of im­ages are a metaphor to rep­re­sent the frag­men­tary na­ture of the truth and its evo­lu­tion.

You have por­trayed fa­mous people like Will Smith and Leonardo Di Caprio. How do you choose your sub­jects and what mes­sage do you want their faces to tell?

In some cases, like the Will Smith and Sa­man­tha Bee por­traits were com­mis­sioned. In gen­eral, the sub­jects I choose for my works are united by the fact that each of them is com­mit­ted to the com­mu­nity and the en­vi­ron­ment. Among the most fa­mous por­traits are Lady Gaga, Fred­die Mer­cury, Obama and Spike Lee. Through my work I try to en­tice the ob­server to linger and study the metic­u­lous de­tails. My sub­jects are deconstruc­ted and de­com­posed. The por­trait thus be­comes a medium through which the most in­ti­mate emo­tions of the sub­ject are ex­plored.

A de­sire to com­mu­ni­cate a pos­i­tive mes­sage emerges from your re­search as an artist. Does art have the power to change the world?

I do art not only for pure aes­thetic ap­pear­ance, but for the pos­i­tive mes­sage that the viewer can grasp by view­ing my work. I be­lieve that even small ac­tions can con­trib­ute to gen­er­at­ing big changes. Quot­ing Paulo Coelho, “ev­ery ac­tion of a man is sa­cred and full of con­se­quences.” I con­sider my­self an artist en­gaged in so­cial work, who makes art to build a bet­ter world. I of­ten put my art at the dis­posal of char­i­ta­ble as­so­ci­a­tions in­volved in var­i­ous fields rang­ing from the fight against ex­ploita­tion to hu­man traf­fick­ing, to those com­mit­ted to re­spect­ing and safe­guard­ing na­ture.

Nat­u­ral el­e­ments are a pow­er­ful thread through your works. Do you want to awaken an aware­ness of the en­vi­ron­ment around us through your work?

The theme of na­ture is of­ten at the cen­ter of my works. In my art the re­la­tion­ship be­tween man and na­ture is cru­cial. The sub­jects are of­ten one with na­ture and the “cuts” are in­spired by the el­e­ments of the wind, wa­ter and fire. The mes­sage I want to con­vey is a warn­ing, to cre­ate a con­science on the im­por­tance of re­spect­ing our planet. Na­ture and man are one and the same. Man is na­ture and is part of ev­ery­thing that exists on earth. It is no co­in­ci­dence that I lived in Veneto and Trentino work­ing as a moun­tain guide, to then change di­rec­tion and land in New York. In Trentino and in Veneto I had the op­por­tu­nity to live in close con­tact with na­ture and to ap­pre­ci­ate it in all its splen­dor.

What do you keep of your Ital­ian back­ground and what have you gained from your Amer­i­can ex­pe­ri­ence?

Cer­tainly I bring with me an in­nate sense of beauty that char­ac­ter­izes all of us Ital­ians a lit­tle and that has helped me in the world of art and fash­ion here in the States. The link with Italy is al­ways strong, de­spite hav­ing al­most spent more years of my life here in New York than in Italy. I have cre­ated a solid bridge be­tween New York and Italy and I of­ten col­lab­o­rate with Ital­ian brands, gal­leries and in­sti­tu­tions. I owe a lot to both. One taught me beauty, the other taught prag­ma­tism and speed.

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