Giulio Gamba clearly remembers the day he recognized the potential of painting. At the very young age of six, he took some hair spray and left a big colored graffiti on the neighbors’ house wall. “I really didn’t like those people, and they sure weren’t happy with what I did,” he says, giggling, “but that day I realized my love for painting.”
Today, he is a senior in the bachelor’s program of Fine Arts in Zurich. While still being in an important phase of experimentation in his art, I perceive strong originality in his work, a result of many years of expressive research. His pieces mainly consist of figurative art, because “communication is essential for what I want to say, and by painting what surrounds me, I believe I can achieve a more direct conversation between me and the observer.” Giulio Gamba’s work does indeed elicit a sense of urgency fuelled by a figurative approach of constant reassessment, contemplation, and self-reflection. Complex topics like metaphysics, symbolism, and the meaning of art itself are key to his way of creating.
Plato’s cave is a notable philosophical allegory from the Republica, which Giulio decided to reinterpret differently than usually pictured: women’s figures instead of men, dressed in typical classic robes, reflect the need to reach out and discover the real world. Oil-based colors and spray paint fuse together in shapes composed mainly of a two-shaded palette. The three cubist-influenced figures, stand as praise for woman’s distinction and the power of oratory. As Giulio states: “to really understand what I tried to say with this painting, I think people just need to contemplate, to look carefully and use their voices as a way to enter into a deeper meaning of the art.” The three women sit close to each other as if to embrace and support the female body and mind. An empty amphora on the bottom right of the cavern stands for the knowledge about reality yet to come.
Giulio Gamba grew up as a cheerful and supported child. “I always had a lot of freedom for my need for expression. When I was younger, I would take refuge in my small world, constantly drawing and painting until I was satisfied.” Up to now, Giulio has experimented primarily using oil-based colors and spray paint which, he states are the best means to achieve the right consistency of richly-saturated shades.
Giulio’s compelling approach in this three-quarters self-portrait undoubtedly invites the observer to take a moment for deeper inspection. An elusive, mystic calm dark blue outlines the face’s surface, distinguishing itself from the distant hilly landscape and warm light beyond. Visible, dynamic-looking, vibrant strokes shiver the image, bringing the observer directly to the captivating gaze of this self-portrait.
People’s faces tell so much about oneself, they fascinate me. There is something unexplainable about one’s face, which gives artists a tremendous amount of responsibility whenever they decide to paint one. But to be able to truly reproduce someone’s face, you must also know the person, you must know their story.Giulio Gamba
Although the scene seems at first glance so simple and ordinary, Giulio manages to establish a bizarre connotation in this man’s expression: why that face? Why the extinguished candle? What is actually happening? Can’t you feel that thin knife slowly cutting the fresh, delicate fish skin? The observer doesn’t just stand in front of this image, but is actively driven to find a story, a personal and meaningful interpretation looking at this unconventional representation of colors, composition and sensations. “A game of banality and imperceptible emotions in such a simple, homely context. Many things can often seem small and common, yet there is an importance in making them visible, in noticing their existence. I do this by painting.“
WHAT IS YOUR VISION?
“Art belongs to the context, and context is given by the people. They determine what is art and what is not, who can be considered an artist and who cannot. I see myself as a creative person and painting is my way of expressing myself without asking for permission. To value what I do, I must find the right context.” Giulio is eager to understand the exponents of contemporary art better and looks forward to experimenting more and expanding his expertise, starting from sculpture. Despite being aware of how saturated the art field is nowadays, he is not intimidated, as he sees art as a way to leave his personal mark in this world, whether large or small. “I envision a place where people consider the value of communication more, where curiosity and interest are the main terrains for understanding art. I once remember someone who said that making art is like shooting an arrow into a dark room; there are those who hit the target and those who do not. Instead, I believe that the target is us and we must hit ourselves. The more honest we are, the more we can understand.”
MEMORY OF A KISS
Last but not least, I want to conclude with this stunning piece made with mixed techniques on canvas. A multiplicity of dynamic lines, and black-and-white shading with imperceptible red-ish touches, showcase a complex, dramatic composition of two human figures. Hands and bodies intertwined lead our eyes to the most attention-catching part of the painting: a graceful female face, peaceful in her expression, and elegant in her proportions. Her delicate aesthetic is contrasted by a rough-looking man painted with deliberately invasive undertones.
Giulio Gamba favors classical and traditional taste in his painting, whilst making his subjects and his stories unique and personal.
Then, is it true that only artists, from painters to poets, have the power to immortalize with their art? Can they alone keep the faces of their platonically loved ones alive, throughout the erosion of Time?
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