Interview: Gabriele La Teana
Luca Curci talks with Gabriele La Teana during Venice International Art Fair 2021 at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Class 90, he was born in Scandiano and at the age of 4 he moved to Milan in 1995. From an early age he felt a strong attraction towards drawing and writing on walls. At 14 he came into contact with the world of graffiti until 2009, the year in which, without reason, he completely abandoned that environment until 2018. In that year the depression hits harder than ever. La Teana takes in hand a canvas and some brushes and begins as a joke, by necessity, to draw on them. From there, as if absorbed in a bubble, he pours out all his suffering, hatred, fear on canvases and sheets. The first works are really primordial, almost like tribal masks. Over time he becomes aware of the means and how to use them, refining his own style. His paintings after less than a year of activity are noticed and from there he begins to exhibit in various group exhibitions around Italy: Florence, Bologna, Rome, then Milan. Despite the pandemic, in June 2020 he has his first solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Alcamo, Sicily. Here he exhibits all his works an me of his pieces on permanent display at the Museum. Also in that period he was contacted to exhibit one of his impressive works abroad in a group exhibition at the Pintér gallery in Budapest. In 2021 one of his pieces was auctioned at the Gigarte house, together with the likes of Salvador Dalí and Botero. From 2018 to 2021, in each of his works we can see the suffering of the artist, who with decisive, sharp brushstrokes almost seems to be fighting with the canvas.
With orderly chaos, he seems to be trying to put his thoughts in order. With his distressing figures, he tries to bring out his demons. Up to the current awareness that depression is part of him and will forever be part of him, but now he has a means with which to learn to live with. Art saved his life and he repays it by giving him his life .
LUCA CURCI – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
GABRIELE LA TEANA – I’ve started at young age with graffiti, but I’ve never attended any course or studied art. Graffiti and street art have been a big part of my young ages (from 12 years old until 18 years old). I’ve caused many troubles to my poor parents, because while normal kids used to like football, I used to dream of painting new York subway. Once I became 18, I interrupted all my activities with no reason and I stayed inactive until 2018. I’ve begun my second art journey due to trauma and life experiences I’ve faced during those 10 years of darkness. Especially experiences are the fuel to all my works. From reality they become dreams or nightmare and after that I try to translate in paintings. It’s a process that normally comes out naturally. I tend to transform pain, joy and all other strong emotions into colorful images, with vivid messages and expressions.
LC – What are you currently working on?
GLT – At the moment I’m working on big projects in Italy and abroad (especially in the USA). I’ve signed few deals with different galleries and I’m pushing my art out of Italian boundaries’. Unfortunately Italy does not seems ready for my art. I say it in sad mood because I would like to be part of a new art movement in Italy. I love my country and I think we need art here. We’re lucky that we’ve organization and galleries that helps young artists to emerge. Adding to these projects, I’m always working, I’m always in my studio when I have time.
LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
GLT – They are always afraid to give suggestion because my art is way to personal and deep. I tent to don’t tell immediately what does a painting mean. In this way, people are not influenced and can tell me what they really feel about my works.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
GLT – My style always change. Change is inevitable, if you don’t like change you get comfortable where you are and slowly die. I don’t want to die as an artist. Also I feel the need to change and I always experiment. I started with a rough style, pure brut art. After that I’ve started studying the human figure. Then I started a more oneiric vision for a very bad and trippy period (as the 3 works I’ve exposed with ITSLIQUIDGROUP). At the moment I’m improving my technique of realistic oil painting. I would like to mix my impulsive style with a more harmonic and realistic style. For the future, I don’t know what to expect, but for sure it will be art.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
GLT – I normally prefer human being figure, even though are not completely human. I tent to show non realistic images, especially because there’s already photography and our eyes that shows the reality as it comes. I’m bored of reality, I want to escape and I do it with my paiting. I don’t have a theme, it depends on what I dream and what I feel in that moment.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
GLT – These paitings express emotions, pain with all vivd colors. I think it’s on the same line of the festival’s theme.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
GLT – All three artworks came from a recent period I’ve lived, right after my 30th birthday. In all of them there are many themes that come out. Pregnancy, claustrophobia, death, prison. Although I use happier colors, those were my nightmares for those nights. I was afraid of being stuck in an infinite room. I felt the pressure of not having a child and building a family (a pressure that nobody wanted to make me feel, but that I applied on myself). Fortunately I’ve realized and those day are far away now.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
GLT – When I was talking about organization that helps young artists, I was including ITSLIQUID with them. I like, the professional side and human side. The real interest towards artists.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
GLT – As said before, I like the reliability and professionalism, without losing humanity and interest towards artist. I’ve seen young people motivated by the love of art.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
GLT – I think that all the members are moved by the real passion towards art and it has to be appreciate it. Also due to the young people working in the group. I would definitely cooperate once again with ITSLIQUID, maybe on an international field.