q)Please introduce yourself.
a) My name is Paolo Giardi and i'm an artist. Well, i'm a bit of a factotum really... I can be many other things on demand: illustrator, window display designer, stylist for photo shoots, printmaker. Whatever involves creativity and a bit of fun. I've never done photography though, but i am working on it...
q) Where do you live and work?
a) I'm originally from Florence, Italy, but i have been living in London for the past 12 years. Currently based in Battersea. There is one room in my house dedicated to art, as a thinking/working little pad. I have tried working in a proper studio, somewhere outside, but it did not work for me.... i like having access to my things day and night since i'm not a 9 to 5 kind of person.
q) How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?
a) I like the word absurd. Maybe evocative, slightly unsettling. I tend to use, in my montages, lots of images taken from magazines and books. I select the ones that most stand out for me, and maybe have colt the imagination of other people too. I combine them using familiar languages, i don't know, sometimes Modernism and propaganda posters, sometimes illustration, sometimes using more classical kind of compositions. I want my work to have the emotional quality of a picture in someone's family album, a forgotten family album. Or in some instances, of a photograph that was never taken. A play on memory and perception.
q) How did you start in the arts? How/when did you realize you were an artist?
a) I left school really early in life. At one point i thought i could have a great career as an accountant, despite the fact i never really understood math at all... That is when the epiphany occurred, and i started signing up to all these short courses: fashion illustration, still life drawing, etching ecc. I ended up at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence studying painting. Great times. It felt like finding my purpose in life again. Somehow, as it often happens, at one point i seem to have forgotten the fact that i spent all my childhood drawing lovely pictures of glamourous 1920's actresses. And making home made paper dolls. And my love affair with cut and paste.....
q) What are your favorite art materials and why?
a) As i said before, scissors, glue, magazine cuttings and paper are the materials i always go back to when i need a bit of inspiration and a quick artistic fix. I use montage as a starting point for paintings, for mood boards, to make intricate artist books. I like the sense of fragility and precariousness of paper. And i also like the unexpected and unintentional analogies that comes with collage making. My imagination would never be as prolific and witty without the helping hand of pure chance....On the other hand, i am still quite fond of painting and often to go back to unnecessarily complicated techniques of canvas preparation and oil mixes. I suppose i still have that old romantic vision of the artist/alchemist... dangerous territory...
q) What/who influences you most?
a) Personal experiences and memories. Collective phenomena and traumas. And a lot of history of Art. Dada has always been a great love of mine. Marcel Duchamp. All the jokes he was playing to his friends and to his audience. One of the best memories i have: a Dada exhibition at Tate Modern in London, this guy, all by himself, laughing his head off in front of Duchamp's "Roulette de Monte Carlo". Total genius. Laughter is always a great starting point, in art as in life. Charlie Chaplin, Lauren and Hardy. Everything that makes people smile. A smile and a cringe. Make someone feel at ease, and then stab him with a knife. Artistically speaking, of course.
q) Describe a typical day of art making for you.
a) My typical day would be: think, read a bit, think a bit more, write down a couple of notes, tear some cuttings out of magazines, file them in catalogued order, have a rest.... tomorrow i will start on that life changing project... and quit smoking...
q) Do you have goals, specific things you want to achieve with your art or in your career as an artist?
a) Keep working, i suppose. And keep doing work that is somehow relevant. In art as in any other creative field. I would hate to end up getting lost in my little own world, you know, repeating myself endlessly. Recognition is great, but is not the driving force. The act of making something, whatever that will be, is enlightening for the human soul. (or maybe not)
q) What contemporary artists or developments in art interest you?
a) Paul McCarthy, Raymond Pettibon, Thomas Hirschhorn. I don't know... so many. When i work, i try not to look around too much, it confuses me a bit. My attention span is quite limited as well, so, what i thought was magnificent today, tomorrow i will probably dismiss it as boring.
q) How long does it typically take you to finish a piece?
a) For montages, really quick. For paintings, ages...
q) Do you enjoy selling your pieces, or are you emotionally attached to them?
a) No emotional attachment whatsoever. A finished work is an object, a product. Selling a piece is as good for your self-esteem as it is for your bank balance.
q) Is music important to you? If so, what are some things you're listening to now?
a) My taste in music is totally postmodern. I listen to opera, jazz, pop (remember my short attention span?). Lately i've been listening to some old David Bowie, as well as some new british groups like Golden Silvers and The xx, a scarily young group from south-west London. My i-pod compilation is a real eclectic mix though...
a) Books tend to collect dust. They give you itchy eyes... still they are extremely important. Lots of Chuck Palahniuk. So many different ideas all packed together. He writes in a very visual style, with funny yet disturbing stories. Great reading. The book i tend to go back to, when i need some comfort reading, is Marcel Proust's Recherche. It sounds a bit old fashion, but you will be surprised how much of everybody's life, friends and yourself, you will find in there. Real life changing (for the best and the worst) reading.
q) What theories or beliefs do you have regarding creativity or the creative process?
a) Everybody is an artist sounds incredibly cliche' yet full of promises at the same time.
q) What do you do (or what do you enjoy doing) when you're not creating?
a) Watching movies, surfing the net (and not always for pedagogical purposes), looking at trees, talking to people, flipping through magazines, looking at my new wedding ring. And dreaming of a better life on a beach in some exotic island... you know, Paul Gauguin style...
q) Do you have any projects or shows coming up that you are particularly excited about?
a) At the moment i am working with a couple of very good friends on the official launch of Less is More projects, a non profit art organization based in Paris. It will be launched with a curated show, held at the Slick Art Fair 2009 in Paris, at the end of october. I can't wait to see the end result. You can find more infos on the website www.lessismoreprojects.com.
q) Do you follow contemporary art scenes? If so, how? What websites, magazines, galleries do you prefer?
a) I am really lazy when it comes to visiting shows... all that effort for a little reward... i'm always afraid of wasting my time. But i like attending BIG Art Fairs, like Frieze and Zoo in London, the Biennale, Documenta. Being bombarded with all those different artistic universes. That's a real buzz. One of the websites i visit for some fun visuals and new music is www.nuevosricos.com. The graphics belong to great mexican artist Carlos Amorales. I am not too keen on art magazines...
q) Ask yourself a question you'd like to answer, and answer it.
a) Your favorite quote? "I wanted to be a tap dancer", Andy Warhol.
q) Any advice for aspiring artists?
a) I wish there was a recipe that everyone could follow. Keep your feet firmly on the ground, and let your imagination do the rest. Maybe start with sleeping with a curator?...
q) Where can we see more of your work online?
a) My website is www.paologiardi.com.
Also check www.lessismoreprojects.com and