Masterclass with an artist

A conversation with Francesco Zavattari

10 JANUARY 2016
Francesco Zavattari
Francesco Zavattari

On Monday, November 23, 2015, the historic walls of the Academy of Art of Lecce hosted a singular “Conversation”, a masterclass held by the artist, Francesco Zavattari, of Lucca.

After Director Claudio Delli Santi’s greetings and opening remarks, the atmosphere underwent a metamorphosis and, what could have been just another formal presentation, became a dynamic conversation, capturing students’ attention and attracting their active participation.

Following his personal exhibit, Elevated Conception (Elevata Concezione) held at the Ex-Conservatory Sant’Anna of Lecce from October 17, 2015 - November 2, 2015 (curated by Antonietta Fulvio and Giusy Petracca for Il Raggio Verde and coordinated by Ambra Biscuso for the association Le Ali di Pandora), Zavattari wanted to dedicate a day to young “aspiring artists” and share with them, what is for him, a very important project which he has been presenting in various educational institutions for some time. This format of informal gatherings is, in fact, purposely planned in order to interact with students in the most effective way possible, creating an animated debate in regard to what it really means to work as an artist rather than just giving out useless information.

Over the course of the hours, a number of subjects were covered, from artistic production, to marketing, from publishing to design, spoken with sincerity, often surprisingly so: “Being sincere is the only way to relate to kids, I tell my personal story not to promote myself, but so they can draw something from it.

And in fact this is what was presented, the tale of a young man who has pursued his chosen path with conviction. To these young adults, on the point of having to decide in regard to their future, he candidly stated that courage is needed to work in the world of art. There is no final guarantee, everything is at your own risk, but you must also believe in yourself, always putting your talent, brains, and, above all, your heart into what you do.

Francesco Zavattari works in Italy and abroad, and has been both a critical and public success. His work is well-known, namely: Inquiry into the Dark (Indagine sull’Ombra) (2012), Ubiqua (2013), Unstable Universe (Universo Instabile) (2014), Ambidexter – The Evolution of Time/Space (Ambidexter – L’evoluzione dello spazio/tempo) (2014), Polyhedron (Poliedro) (2015, Giuseppe Lazzareschi Foundation of Porcari, Lucca). Worthy of note is also his commitment to My Art is Female, presented in Portugal with the association UMAR, in which the delicate matter of violence against women is approached.

While talking to the students, the most important aspect he highlighted was not the success he had obtained but the importance of working with dedication to reach determined objectives, working with collaborators in a team spirit, and never backing down. His artistic career is closely connected to his career as a designer; two totally different worlds which nonetheless influence each other as they are an integral part of one and the same person. A fundamental point during the discussion was the double aspect of his career and the fact that the two spheres are often poles apart. If, as a designer, he has to accept compromises to make a client with particular requests happy, on the other hand, when it comes to his creations, he is free to express himself as he wishes. Paradoxically, the limitations he must accept in one sphere, permit him to be totally free of constrictions in the other.

In substance, he invited students to work constantly with an elastic mind, look beyond their personal bubble, keep their minds active, and always stand behind their work. In fact, since he stands behind his work, his image has been used to publicize various exhibits of his. In the poster for Polyhedron, he is holding an imaginary bow made of interconnected threads tied to a single matrix. His image, veiled with fluid matter, is a prelude to the sacredness connected to Elevated Conception. Perhaps the most emblematic however, is the one of Zavattari dressed to the nines, splattered with color, in Unstable Universe.

The latter, in particular, sums up his day-to-day reality: a fast-paced life, where meeting tight deadlines in his work as a designer must inevitably coexist with his need to create. This structural paradox can be found in all his work. The contrasts that come together, the chaos, the “unstable universe” of strongly expressive shapes and lines churned out quickly that, after closer examination, are actually a study of composition almost bordering on obsessed. This contamination of symbols, so unlike one another, connects together subliminally. After all, "darkness is light just turned inside-out and vice-versa".

At the end of the masterclass, the students crowded around Francesco to express their enthusiasm, and to thank him for his helpful advice. By listening firsthand to an artist that has actually achieved positive results, motivates and gives a good dose of energy and optimism. Each of us, undoubtedly, follows our own dreams and aspirations, never forgetting however, that, through art, we speak of life. The choices made, those discarded, the image of an ordinary day that becomes extraordinary, an article read in the newspaper, or a color that recalls a memory from long ago.

Text by Chiara Bevilacqua, translated by Eleanor Pieruccini