6 Minutes @ Danilo Giannoni

Danilo Giannoni ~ A jewelry designer and an internationally recognized contemporary artist specialized in utilizing an ancient Turkish painting technique of painting on the water called Ebru held a solo exhibition entitled <State of Matter> in Hong Kong recently. This time, Giannoni does not talk about the blink blink state of mind in jewelry design but the joy and the contentment that he found by combining the knowledge of the traditional Ebru with different new methods to create a more modern and complex version of Ebru using new materials and adding silhouettes and figures on his latest work. mylifestylenews writes......

My grandmother was a woman who had been through two wars, violence and death, survival, and tried to make me grow teaching me the importance of work, values, and always told me “You cannot write on the water”. How much are we influenced and forged by our childhood? We understand only when one day we find ourselves faced with something that must be explained, as I am doing at this moment, trying to explain my art.

It all started a very long time ago, when even before knowing how to write, and go to school, I was telling everyone that I was an artist. That was not common for a child born into a modest, military family, in a city that offers very little opportunity to meet “culture” as I was born in Alessandria, Italy. A city that has lost much of its history and is always grey that leads to depression, perhaps due to the fog that always wraps it during the winter.

Leonardo Da Vinci and Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Kandinsky, Picasso, Van Gogh, Modigliani are my favorite. I was feeding my soul with books, as in the search for answers to questions that I had not yet made to my self, almost an unconscious preparation to what would have happened in the future.

One day, I saw for the first time a work of Jackson Pollock, and my life changed forever. I probably spent three hours to read and listen to that picture, as if it was speaking to me, the automatism of his work fascinated me and changed me forever. After him the great masters of the informal as Wols, Foutrier, Jean Debuffet, Emilio Scanavino, and Antoni Tàpies and the automatic writing of Masson have satisfied my thirst for the informal art.

I felt ready but I was missing a media that allowed me to express my creativity. My training as a designer leads me to want to be original, but while alluding to thematic and canonic codes of the informality.

I had many ideas but the brushes and canvases were not sufficient to express them. I needed something more, I felt like in a chaos, a primordial broth that was ready to explode for expressing my being.

When someone asked me what was I doing in life, my tendency was to respond: “I am an artist”, even if I was not yet properly acquainted with the art world. My passion grew.

In 2002, when I  decided to move to Istanbul, Turkey to take some time off for personal reflection and research for a new inspiration. I fell in love with an ancient painting technique called Ebru ~ The origins of this art are lost in time, over 1,300 years ago in Japan there was a similar technique to prepare the paper for the calligraphy called Suminagashi, which means, "floating ink".

In the 15th century, a similar technique came from Persia via the Silk Road, arrived in Turkey where it became a noble art, and took the name of Ebru. In the ancient Persian language this word means “Cloud and Wind” while in the Ottoman language it means “Clouded Paper” or “Colorful”, some other sources say that the meaning of “Abri” (Ebru) is “Pure Water” or “Clean Water”.

Ebru is a very uncommon technique steeped in Turkish history. A shallow tank is filled with purified water, which is then naturally treated to acquire a dense consistency. Various ink or paint colours are then carefully applied to the surface. The floating colours are then manipulated by either using needles to gently stir the colours, or blowing on them directly thus fanning the colours to achieve the swirls and concentrated circles. Finally, a sheet of paper or canvas or other material is laid onto the water surface to capture the floating design. It reminded me of the words of my grandmother: “ you can’t write on the water”.

I was so in love with this technique that I moved to Istanbul for five years, and I studied till I mastered the technique and the classical form of this art, and I felt the need to do more. I began
to enlarge the tanks that are used for painting, test materials and colors, up to the point of creating Gaea, my first round work, beautiful, two meters in diameter. It was a tremendous effort to paint it and remove the paper impregnated with water and color, as it was so heavy.

I began to explore this art form and find an alternative way to add in my own ideas in this technique to create a different interpretation of my own. After various test and trial, I have found a combination of classical calligraphy writing and miniature (detailed painting on a marbled background) and it is a more complex technique where silhouettes and figures (men and women) are drawn on the water.

In my creative process, I am using the four elements - Water, Fire, Air, Earth - to give life to my creations. I let myself go to the automatism creativity, trying to isolate almost totally my will and leaving that the subject is expressing autonomously, just as happens in nature when the elements are composed, mixed, accepted, refused.

I let the air and water direct the color, giving rise to an infinite but constant motion that generates the imaginary worlds, some violent, some calm, some full of life, some sterile.

I am a child when I work in my studio, and I imagine my mother tells me about Gaea Mother Nature, that alone begat Pontus - the sea and Uranus, the starry sky, which with Gaea with begat the twelve Titans. And yet the myths of Jupiter, Mars, Apollo, many of my works are dreams of childhood, and when the stories of my mother are mixed with the work of the masters that I have always been inspired of, creates dreams of overlapping colors and images.

“Painting on the Water” what it is all about, it is like a never-ending dream, a connection, an open channel to the source of this inspiration. I don’t know if it is God, or Energy, Universe or Love… it is something that makes you close your eyes, feel peace with everything… part of it and everything is in you, and it comes out, as if the Colors are Dancing on the Water.

My art is very complex, has an infinite number of variables, just like real life, every time I paint, if it is too cold or hot, the water and the colors react in a different way, sometimes it does not
combine, sometimes the water is too heavy, and it should be filtered to lighten it, other times the movement of the air is too violent and makes it to sink the colors.

Just like real life and the universe that is balanced so fragile, that life is a miracle so rare, because the combination of possibilities that are being created in the space are so endless that sometimes is impossible to replicate them, just as my work.

My worlds are the representation of life in the universe, a way of expressing through my dreams, my memories and my inspiration, the vision I have of the universe. Each of these worlds in shape, color, appearance, represent a lost paradise where I imagine one day I find myself reunited with my family.

My work is created with emotions, love, as memories of that happy childhood that are frozen in time, testimonies of my passage on this world, an inheritance for my child that I still haven’t met, and that will be born after the first of a long series of exhibitions presenting this new collection, so that my child will know and understand his father even through his work.

If you get closer to one of my artwork and close your eyes and let yourself go, you can hear the sound of the sea as if you put a shell close to your ears. If you look at my work and you follow the movement of the colors on the water you will have the impression it still moves.

The secret of my work it is not that difficult to understand or decipher, and is the secret of happiness. Just look at the inside of the eyes of the person you love, or in the eyes of those who have needs of you.

If you look harder in my works, you will find answers to my questions, or to your own. I like hearing the different interpretations from different people with the way they look my work as every voices translate a unique means of visualization through individual's emotion and it makes them special.

“God gave me a gift, a very painful one, the creativity that is a monster that never sleeps, and I try to control it through art. Painting on the water is a liberating process as it allows for fluidity of the colours and lines. There are no rules or boundaries and it allows me to free up my mind. I invite you to dream with me on the water, get lost in the colours, lines and swirls of my artwork and find your own interpretation of the pieces.” ~ Danilo Giannoni.

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