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Art in motion with Erik Saglia

Born in 1989, Erik Saglia lives and works in Turin in Italy. In his early works Erik Saglia, starting with the implications of the “modernist grid”, emphasizes and restructures it replicating it first with graph paper and spray, then with adhesive tape, that, perfectly laid in orthogonal lines, covers the camouflage spots; the tape is stuck in a precise and rigorous way, submitting the body to the discipline of the exact gesture that contrasts with the free aggregation of the spots below.

In the recent works, the strictness that seems to disappear with the smoother motion of tape come back thanks to the precision of applying resin, revived with an almost sculptural thickness. The use of materials, spray paint, tape and synthetic resin, seeks to renew the concept of surface, deleting every biographical and pop aspect reconnecting the work by Erik Saglia to the Spatialist research by Lucio Fontana and the lesson of Alighiero Boetti.

Erik Saglia has already participated at several group shows, among all: Too big or not too big at Thomas Brambilla Gallery (2013), Sphères at Galleria Continua Les Moulins in Paris (2014), Face to Face at Palazzo Fruscione (2016), and many others. He held his first solo show SNIFFINGLUE at Thomas Brambilla Gallery in 2014, and later he had a solo show, A.E Abstract Existence at BACO (2015), Ceiling 1 at Tile Project, Milan (2016) and SpazioBuonasera (2016). In 2016 he had his second solo show at Thomas Brambilla gallery, Bergamo.

  1. Do you consider yourself as an emerging artist in contemporary art ?

Erik Saglia : The problem is to know how and when one stops being “emergent” in the contemporary art world. I’m Erik Saglia, I’m a painter, I’m 31 years old and I live in Turin.

2. How would you describe your style ?

Erik Saglia : Make-believe organised, tipping-toe aggressive, self-conservationist, colour-rhythmic.

3. Is there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist ?

Erik Saglia : My parents, who have been very supportive since the beginning. Marco Cingolani, my painting teacher at the Accademia Albertina di Torino. Thomas Brambilla, the gallery owner who I’ve been working with for the past 7 years.

4. Do you remember your first interaction with art ?

Erik Saglia : I was a very wild child and drawing was one of those things that kept me calm. I think this was my first approach to art.

5. Are you influenced by Italian heritage in your work ?

Erik Saglia : Yes, I think that all artists should be influenced by the Italian artistic heritage, and being Italian, I have no way out of it.

6. What mission do you paint ?

Erik Saglia : What I mainly look for with my work is being able to attract and to stop the gaze. This is something we are not able to do anymore. We skip images on our phones all day long, you look at one thing, then switch to another one, and then another one very quickly. My paintings actually try to avoid that. Being reflective every time you try to photograph them in order to immortalise them, it’s as if they scape. Each painting reflects your figure standing in front of it and everything that surrounds it, therefore in a picture it never shows itself really for what it is. It is only itself when you are in front of the actual painting and not an image of it.

7. What other artists influence you, both contemporary and historical ?

Erik Saglia : Lately I’ve been feeling very attracted to Albrecht Dürer and Giorgio de Chirico.

8. How did you first begin to develop your unique style ?

Erik Saglia : The story goes that the first time I used the paper masking tape was by accident. I was doing a collage and needed to paste something but I ran out of glue so instead I used some tape that I happened to have. I pasted the image by completely covering it with the tape and then I noticed a certain transparency that intrigued me. After this sort of artistic epiphany, I worked my way around  it, preserving it and perfecting it. This lead to what I do nowadays.

9. How do you nurture your creativity ?

Erik Saglia : I try to constantly keep a sharp-eye on everything that surrounds me.

10. What can you tell us about your painting process ?

Erik Saglia : For the last seven years, give or take, the process is nearly always invariable. I’ve been trying to use the same materials: wood, spray paint, paper masking tape, frottage with crayons or with oil pastels, and epoxy resin. I like the idea that by overlapping, creating levels and arranging them in completely different orders -as a Bach composition-, I allow these materials, antagonistic to each other, to coexist within a unique space. During the making of a painting, it has become almost a ritual moment when I pull the masking tape to create the grids. It’s a sort of meditation where my body movements become mechanical and repetitive and time is marked only by the sound of the tape that unrolls centimetre by centimetre.

11. What are your favourite tools and materials for working ?

Erik Saglia : It might seem odd but my hands are my favourite tool. I feel very passionate about the idea of doing everything myself.

12. As an artist, what is your vision of the world mostly in this global sanitary crisis we’re going through ?

Erik Saglia : I think that one positive aspect about this situation is that it’s been forcing us to slow down our life rhythm. In a way this makes us value what we do on our everyday basis. 

13. What’s your relationship with colour & space ?

Erik Saglia : I try to split my working time so that there are some moments or even days that I dedicate entirely to the space’s study. Nevertheless it happens that at a certain point the color depends completely on the space and vice versa. Working by layers and in a horizontal position, it gets hard to evaluate space and color in the making. I can’t back up and have a glimpse -as painters mostly do- of how the work is coming and its strengths and weaknesses. Though one thing that I might say about my work, is that as time passes I feel that color is less and less concealed within the grids. It’s as if the wefts and warps are slowly widening bigger and bigger.

14. Can you tell us more about the Abstract existence concept ?

Erik Saglia : If by Abstract existence you are referring to the catalogue of 2014, it was about a series of exhibitions curated by Valentina Gervasoni, Stefano Raimondi, and Maura Zanchi that took place during 2015 and 2016 inside the ex-conservatoire Donizetti in Bergamo. I was invited among other three artists, May Hands, Israel Lund, and James Hoff. Each one of us had a solo show and it was for that occasion that I created my first wall painting. The exhibition pondered about abstract painting developments taking under consideration two American and two European artists. During these years there was a strong interest towards an abstract painting comeback.

15. What do you do besides art ?

Erik Saglia : I recently bought a road bike to burn some calories that I take on by eating ice-cream.

More about Erik Saglia

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