Interview #64

Lupo Borgonovo

* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).

Lupo Borgonovo (Milan, 1985) studied at Accademia di Brera (Milan). His work has been exhibited at MAGASIN Centre National d’Art Contemporain (Grenoble); Rowing (London); Fluxia, Gasconade, GAM and La Triennale di Milano (Milan); Museo Nitsch (Naples); CAN (Neuchâtel); Martos Gallery (New York); Galerie Chez Valentin (Paris); 5° Prague Biennale (Prague); American Academy and Nomas Foundation (Rome); Minerva (Sydney); Cripta 747 (Turin); Galleria Monica De Cardenas (Zuoz).

Most of your work deals with the relationship between organic and inorganic matter, with the contrast between appearance and reality. Where does this fascination come from?

Yesterday I was walking in the Isola neighborhood and stopped in front of a small playground. The few elements of this little park were resin reproductions of tree trunks which became either tunnels, seats for swings, or bricks for the castle. That in this playground there was a reference to a distant nature is likely, that the nature stereotyped in rounded trunks was made of synthetic materials is certain, but what interested me most, was that of all the ways that could be found to represent trunks, someone had deliberately chosen this way.

Thus this research results in a challenge of the visual and tactile perception, separating things from their ordinary connotation.

Yes, it is the story of the banana leaf that descends the river pushed by the current: at one point a man sees it and invents a boat to sail on the river. Then the man goes back to the village and says he invented the boat, but perhaps even the leaf returns to the banana tree and says the same thing.v

You live and work in the north of Milan, in the Via Padova district; do you think the place where you live your everyday life has somehow influenced your research?

For a series of sculptures Yelloween, made of casts of fruits in silicon rubber, I could find, in various Chinese, Sinhalese and Arab shops of the neighborhood, monstrous and beautiful fruits I’d never seen. The feeling is that when you walk from shop to shop, you are somehow teleported from one world to another. And then there is the life of the street and the small parks I watch every day. In this case the folkloric aspect, in my eyes, turns these people into monuments, the protagonists of a novel that open continues to write itself.

In this sense, do you believe that the fact to create each time a work of several different specimens is a way of making the work narrative? So could one say that some works are composed of more characters, or multiple frames of the same image in motion?

I like to think of an artwork like a character; I imagine a movie where the focus shifts from the protagonist and the camera begins to follow the life of a walk-on. When the walk-on, by dint of being followed, becomes the protagonist, the camera moves again on another side figure and so on. Each series is a family that blends with the others, creating a family tree, but it is also a variation on the same theme; the attempt to create an identikit that is gradually improving, but further and further away from the face of the requested person.

Drawing is a component which is always present in your work. How did you develop this practice over time?

I live with Lisa, who is continually drawing, as a result I started to draw too, this allows me to be so many things between the drawings; a kind of practice to disperse the identity. The thing I like most in a quick drawing is the speed.

And how did you apply this to works such as Agua, O and I?

The Agua series comes from a note on a sheet that I had forgotten in the pocket of my trousers before washing them. Once dried, the paper showed a strange abstract design where the marker had expanded and multiplied. A washing machine mandala. What I did was to reproduce this inadvertent process on a larger scale. The sheets and the drawings have been enlarged and, for lack of a giant washing machine or pockets, I immersed them in a tub. O e I is a series of conjoined drawings, altered interpretations of artifacts from various latitudes. O is the pedantic and meticulous part: the designs are slow, composed of thousands of small spheres outlined in ink which fill the silhouettes. I is the quick part: the designs are drawn with a few quick lines. What O thinks about I and I about O – I have no idea.

In 2015 you worked on CHEESE CHEESE, a publication curated by Davide Giannella and edited by RAWRAW; how did the project evolve?

Davide and Massimiliano were interested in a series of drawings, a domestic saga of a character a bit man, a bit mouse, a bit elephant. The process was easy and quick: I imagined the life of ‘Coso’ (the elephant mouse), I designed it and the drawings were then scanned. Subsequently, Massimiliano and Marco Fasolini have created the book and organized the material, while David made an interview with ‘Coso’.

This is the first work in which you have explicitly added a narrative component to drawings.

The story of this character is born from its request to be recounted. ‘Coso’ seemed to have no intention to leave the scene in the first drawing, especially as its first appearance showed it crushed by a piece of cheese in an austere den. In order to avoid to tell only a tragedy, I let myself be guided by its extrovert physicality and its singular psychic structure to continue the representation.