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"I feel more alive in insecurity"

an interview with the artist Devakrishna Marco Giollo.
By Le Vin Chin - 08. Sep. 2008

Devakrishna Marco Giollo's mixed-media art will be seen adorning the walls of 100% Design's centerpiece auditorium, the Ciba® XYMARAT Theatre, for the duration of the design event in London.

Giollo's pieces are sensual experiences, with color, texture, glint and shimmer all building up into an emotionally complex, but resonant, whole.

Ciba commissioned Giollo to produce four pieces incorporating Ciba® XYMARAT pearlescent pigments and Ciba® XYMARA NordicT sparkle-effect pigments to showcase the subtle and sensitive possibilities offered by these products. discussed his creative process with him .

In our first interview with you, we already talked about your philosophy and your approach. This time, can you tell us more about your creative process?

First of all, I have a lot of "material" at home that I have been collecting. It's just objects and pieces, which you can see on the paintings. I can't exist only on a flat surface, I am used to sculpture, so for me, a painting is a three dimensional thing. I see objects that attract me and I just collect them. Then, when I have the object, I depart - it's like going out from a center and it's almost like going out from my own inner center. It's very important for me that I am in a clear space inside when I do that. That means my heart is open, I don't have anything that clutters my mind; that I am in a clean, good space. And then I start placing the objects, I start moving and creating shapes that have some harmony. And then from the center I spread out into space. It's like what I do in my private life as well. I am always trying to go inside, and then, from my center, fill the space of what we're living in. It's big, it's like the universe. And that's the shape before the colors. The colors come after.

How do you choose your starting-point objects?

That's very spontaneous. I pick an object up: it's the color, it's the feeling ... I pick up this one but not that one ... I lay them around, and then I start. I let my unconscious think about it. For this particular painting, I started with a red object ... If the first object would have been green, then all the other things would have been greenish.

And then, from there you discover the shape ...?

I discover the shape. The object gives me the shape, and then I go from there.

So at first it's a single color and emotional concept, based on the object.

In this particular painting. But it's never the same. Sometimes I have something in mind that I want to do. Sometimes it's figurative, but "my" figurative: I want to do a woman, for example, so I choose the woman, but then again I start putting the objects around the woman, and that gives the feeling of the whole painting.

Is there a theme to how and where you collect your objects?

I was traveling, I was in India, and I was in a few markets. And there was this very old woman selling jewelry that nobody wanted anymore. I remember she was trying to charge a very high price and I was bargaining with her, just for the fun. At the end, I gave her the money she wanted. I bought a plastic bag full of these things which were not sellable on the market because they were all broken and old. And it was all jewelry for Rajahstani women. This was down in Goa. She looked like a beggar; in those places I just buy things and that's how I get inspired.

But anything I bought, I bought because I knew I would put them on canvas. It was clear.

What was it about those specific objects which attracted you?

There is something - I don't know how to explain it. I just don't know. It's like an attraction. "I want that, I will use that."

I also bought old embroidered saris and I want to use them too. With the red one, there is a piece of Sari there.

So you start with the object to create the basic concept ... And then?

Then I add the color, and the color has to feel right for me. That's very important. In this piece, I went into reds. It was redder then it was not. And then it was too strong. And then there was too much contrast between the black and the red, and so I added blue ...

Then, what I do, I just sit there for a day or two. I just sit. And I hang it in my living space; it has to hang where I live. In the morning, I get up, I pass it by and I look at it, and maybe something is missing, something is not right. Then I take it down and go back to work on it. And that process goes on and on to the point when I feel that it feels really right. And there is a danger that I could go too far or do too much. For example, on this particular painting, I was still busy putting the pigments on until last night because I was not so excited with how it looked, yet. So I did these last three splashes with the silver. And when you splash, you can ruin the whole thing, because you don't know where a splash goes .

You were saying that you come from a background in sculpture.

I did art school, and I got a prize for something in between sculpture and painting called 'basso relievo' in Italian. I was second-best at the Centro Scolastico per le Industrie Artistiche, in Lugano. One of my teacher was Nag Arnoldi. I feel honored that he was my teacher, and he's one of the best sculptors - Switzerland is full of his work.

So I did sculpture. But sculpture is bulky, it's big, and I was always traveling. All of my life, I have been traveling all over the world. But for sculpture, you have to be in one place and produce there, you cannot just travel around.

But like you say, you are using the concepts. You're still making a sculpture on the surface of your pieces.

The concepts, the nervousness of the movement.

You have said in an interview that you are really creating something for people to live with and enjoy in a home, not just to see in a gallery.

Absolutely, yes.

Maybe I could put that down just as your philosophy!
How do you choose your materials? Do you just use basic pigments, or do you actually look for specific types of materials?

I like acrylic, I like oil. I used oil, but I dropped it because it's just not healthy to be there and breathe it all the time; and it takes a long time to dry and I am impatient. I can't just be there and wait three whole days until the next step ... Acrylic dries very quickly, which forces me to let go. I don't want to think too much: I have to go to a place of not-knowing and let go, because it's happening so quickly. And the colors - I don't much like mixing, you know, preparing the color. I like to use the primary colors … bam-bam-bam-bam.

How did you explore the use of the Ciba pigments?

I put them on canvas, old canvases that I had and still have. Paintings I did last year, two years ago. I had to see how they looked before I started on the commission, because they are so new. I did two, three paintings. They were figurative, like flowers and stuff.

The first experiment, I put all the color combinations I could on paper to see how the pigments react with each color. On black the effects come out more; on white, you hardly see it, so then you know you have to do other things to see the effect. And then of course the greens, the blues, the yellows and reds . I just wanted to see where you see this the best, where it disappears more, things like this.Let's talk about the specific materials you used.

I was using Ciba® XYMARAT Gold Pearl G00, and I was using the Ciba® XYMARA NordicT sparkle effect pigments. You know, the Gold Pearl works fantastically on darker surfaces, but my painting was already golden - it was already orange and yellow. So at the beginning I said no, it's no good, because it should stand out and you want to see the effect. But then I just loved the "velveting" and the depth that the thing gave, so I did use it. Now it's gold-on-gold, but worth the risk.

Did you get a choice of the products you could use?

I have Gold Pearl, I have Ciba® XYMARAT Silver Pearl S03, I have the XYMARA Nordic sparkle-effect pigments, I have the Ciba® XYMARAT Bronze Pearl B02. The Silver Pearl is good, it's like the Gold Pearl. And the sparkle-effect is more obvious, it's easier to see.

They're part of my tools now, for sure. You know, when I tried using other products before, to get the same effect, it never worked. I did not like the glitter - the painting became almost kitschy, whereas this is just optimal.

What's the difference? Is it the way it sits on the canvas?

Yes, it's uniform. The other stuff that you buy in the shops looks like glitter. It's not the same. I don't want a glittery feeling.

How was working from a commission different to your previous work?

Usually I do the painting and then if somebody likes it, they buy it, right? I don't have to go through emotions, because the deal is clear. You like it, you pay the price for it. But with these pieces, you're paying beforehand, so you're expecting something. And that puts me in a completely different situation: I went through insecurity, not knowing ... I am not like the average artist, who has his ego and says "I do my thing and then either you like it or you don't".

So that's the difference between subjective and objective art I was telling you about before. I care if the work brings you something. If I do it for myself and you like the thing and you pay me for it, I am fine; you like it and that's a relief. But if you pay me beforehand and expect something, then that's more challenging. Actually, sometimes I like that more, because of the challenge. Then, personally, there is more love, more care that goes into the thing than before.

But you're enjoying it, which is a good point ...

I love it, yes, yes, yes. It makes me more alive. It makes me more centered. It makes me more focussed. I want more quality.

And then I feel more alive, I tell you. I feel more alive in insecurity. When you're secure, you walk around like a dead person. And life is insecure. I mean, you can try to make it all fixed, but then something happens - somebody dies, or ... you know. Life always takes you off your feet and for me it is a form of being ...

By Le Vin Chin

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