by Abigail Englund (Southern Illinois University)
Ganzo, the cultural association of FUA has a sweet tooth for graphic art and photography, languages which Ganzo regularly supports with monthly exhibitions. The exhibition Tributes by Tommaso Eppesteingher, opened on September 26th and it will run longer up until November 13th 2012. Tributes is a lively gallery of teenagers’ VIP, yet capturing the subjects in the intimate technique of drawing and the desecrating language of caricature. Tommaso Eppesteingher, native from Livorno, Tuscany, expresses here his love for music and for certain visual artists. I found very interesting that among the latter we find just one sculptor, Alberto Giacometti, while the others are cartoonists and film directors. Completely absent are artists who are presently swarming in contemporary art museums, evidence that Tommaso is not interesting in being part of that world by bribing the system. He is simply paying homage to his guides and inspirers.
This interview was conducted via mail on October 5, 2012
Abigail Englund: What is your favorite piece in the collection presented at Ganzo?
Tommaso Eppesteingher: There isn’t a favorite piece among the portraits, although I can say what I’m most fond of is the Family Portrait, a small etching with aquatint made when I was still attending the school of graphic art Il Bisonte. My father asked me to reprint it make it as a gift card for relatives and family friends.
AE: Can you tell me a bit about the mental processes involved in creating your works? Is there a particular moment when you decide to dedicate to the subject of portraiture?
TE: Well, as far as I can remember I have always been drawing portraits and caricatures. At home, at school, in class, out in the street and in restaurants with friends. Drawing is like breathing for me. Hard to say and explain the mental process that leads me to draw, I just know that drawing is for me the easiest way to express myself and know people better. When you draw a caricature to somebody, a special relationship is born between you and him or her. Especially when it is successful, a thin link happens to exist, and this makes easier communication and dialogue with people, even if you have just met them. It’s a matter of empathy.
AE: Is there a specific message you’re trying to convey? What feelings, if any, are you trying to evoke in the audience?
TE: David Lynch says that if you want to send a message go to the mailbox … well, I feel a bit like him. I do not usually think much about how one can feel in front of my drawings. Anyway I believe that the techniques I use are somehow conveying an idea of childhood. Today many artists and illustrators rely on computers to create their works, I prefer to maintain to the simplicity of pencils, felt-tip pens, of all kinds of china, and watercolors; these traditional media make my works warm, I hope people sense this when looking at my drawings.
AE: Are there any places you visit to inspire your art making?
TE: My works are inspired by what I see, I read and I listen to … so places where I do these activities inspire me, but for what I do there, not necessarily that much for what they are. I am inspired by cinemas, clubs, bars, schools, because I find information in those … but I also find inspiring material in virtual places such as the Internet. Records and CDs, all movies I’ve seen and books I’ve read, they are inspiring for me.
AE: Assuming you listen to music while working, are there specific artists that you listen to? What music inspires you?
TE: I listen to a lot of music, different genres … I used to listen classical music, then since my teenage years I’ve moved on to listen to a lot of rock, pop music, and jazz … the musicians that have inspired me the most? Many can be found in the portraits that I have exhibited at the exhibition (Ramones, Sex Pistols, T Rex, Stooges, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Serge Gainsbourg, etc…).
AE: So, does listening to music aid in creating your work?
TE: Of course, music has inspired a lot of my drawings. When I was younger I let myself be carried away by music, and I often compared dancing to drawing. I don’t dance as much as before, still today drawing has became for me a sort of dance…. A truly liberating experience.
AE: Is there a creative medium you’d like to explore, but have not yet, or a medium that you would like to improve your skills with?
TE: I really like the video art, and video animation. I’ve done little things, but I’d like to work more in this field and better…
AE: Do you have tips or inspiring words for other students or artists?
TE: I’ve always been convinced that an artist must believe in what he does and satisfy himself before others.
AE: Professionally, what is your goal?
TE: To be able to live off my art, my illustrations, cartoons and comics … I’m working on it …
AE: What are you working on next?
TE: Now I’m drawing a comic book on the history of Livorno, the city where I was born and where I live. It’s a project supported by the Prefect of Livorno and addressed to schools, so that children know more about the history and the territory of their city. In addition, as soon as the exhibition at Ganzo ends, I will put on display Tributes, in another Florentine venue.