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Michele D’Avenia was born on 9th December 1964, in Sesto San Giovanni (Milan). Only after secondary school does he enrol to Accademia di Belle Arti of Reggio Calabria, attending for a short time the Scuola Libera del Nudo. Very disappointed by this experience, he breaks away from the school in order to start his independent study of pictorial techniques and the masters of the past. During these years, he developed a deep interest in decoration and the restoration of ancient paintings, and afterwards he starts collaborating with specialised laboratories.
During D’Avenia’s pictorial research, working as a restorer was crucial because this gave him the possibility to experiment and understand how the old masters, especially from the 15th to 16th Century, treated and worked the paintings in that period. Starting from the pictorial tradition of the old masters, D’Avenia’s research and knowledge evolved, acquiring the experience that allowed him to continue the techniques of the past in modern day work whilst still being innovative and current.
D’Avenia considers his greatest accomplishment to be turning his passion of art into a full time career, with highlights that include receiving First Prize at the Arte Mondadori in 2004 for his sculpture “L’Altra Faccia del Peccato” (“The other face of sin”) and taking part in the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, and the “Artists of Sicily” exhibition in 2014/2015, both curated by Vittorio Sgarbi.
Also the completion of large scale work such as “Il compianto”, a religious painting in 2009, and the making and dedicating of a monumental sculpture named “October 1st, 2009” in the memory of the flood victims of Giampilieri e Scaletta (Messina, Italy). These examples help us start to appreciate the quality and diversity of D’Avenia’s book of work.
D’Avenia enjoys joining the national artistic scene, both by taking part in several collective exhibitions and also organising solo shows in Italy and abroad. Many of his paintings and sculptures are now part of important private and public collections.
We catch up with Michele D’Avenia to ask him a few questions about his work.
How do you choose the themes of your works?
I do not have a precise idea, I draw inspiration from everyday life. Anything that inspires or moves me becomes the theme for a new painting. The most important thing is that both the figurative subjects or inanimate objects I choose succeed in transmitting emotion.
You are a multidisciplinary visual artist working across painting and sculpture. What is your favourite media to express yourself?
I do not have a real preference. I definitely love painting and creating the illusion on a two- dimensional surface, whereas with sculpture it is real and you work in three-dimensional. For me the most important thing in art is not the means in which we use to create, it is succeeding in communicating with the spectator. If it is by painting, sculpture, photography, or even cinema, it is important to relay emotion.
Is there a message in your art?
There are no special messages, only the necessity to communicate and transmit emotion. I am always searching for beauty, both from forms of everyday life and in my professional artistic studies.
For me it is always necessary to seek “beauty” in everything, to chase it, and try to reach it as much as possible.
Tell us about the creative process since initial thoughts to completion
The initial working process always begins with an idea and motivation that I take from every day life, and I then transform into a painting. How I turn that idea into a painting is very simple. I begin by taking the subject or object and prepare the first sketches. I then begin to study, particularly the shading and light. When the sketch is to my liking I then transport everything on a canvas in which I have already prepared.
The execution time of my work is very long because it is a process done in different steps. It begins with the first coat of colour that is applied quite thickly, which becomes the structure of the painting. I then apply another coat of colour, which is less dense and then I begin detailing and refining my objects which is nothing more than an endless supply of thin coloured layers painted one after the other.
What would be your dream collaboration?
My dream collaboration is that of which I believe every artist would want, which is to have a solid organisation/ gallery behind you that believes in your work and can give you the possibility and security to create. Just like the support given in the past to the old masters to create the incredible works of art that they have left us with today.
Who has influenced you the most?
I have certainly been influenced by the Italian painters from the 15th and 16th Century. Obviously among the most influential, Caravaggio with his naturalism and paintings of raw truth, exposing and working the light so that it brings out the characters and objects from the dark. Treasuring these past techniques, I try to continue using them in my art of todays era.
What other artists do you admire? What is your favourite piece of art?
My absolute favourite artist will always be Caravaggio. The piece that I admire most of all is the painting “Flagellazione di Cristo” (The Flagellation of Christ) a painting which is located at the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. The painting is as much simple, as it is powerful!
How would you describe the current art scene in Italy?
Unfortunately at the moment it’s not the best it has been. In the past we were surely luckier to have quite rich moments in which this allowed us to export our art and culture all over the world. At the moment Italy’s art scene is facing a bit of difficulty, in fact the market is completely static, continuing to commercialise art from post war onwards instead of investing in the new generations.
Tell us a little bit more about your current projects. Any other ventures on the horizon?
After a successful solo exhibition “La Bellezza è Possibile” (Beauty is Possible) curated by Alberto Agazzani, at the Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo, I have been dedicating to the realisation of various private commissions.
For the future, I will be committed to trying to open new relationships and hopefully be fortunate enough in succeeding in the foreign art market in which I thoroughly believe can give me the possibility to grow and open new horizons.
To find more about Michele D’Avenia’s work, please visit www.micheledavenia.it