ANTONINO BARBARO 




 THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT ART 

 [words Antonino Barbaro]         



Wed 14th February 2021

FRIENDS, ENEMIES AND SHINY FINGERS



UWS (Ink drawing), 2021


In my experience, sharing new work with the audience has always been a sensible moment; and the fact that this is the final and only necessary step to complete a project doesn't help.

A piece of work is finished only when it is made public. That’s all. This doesn’t mean that every published work is finished (published work can be re-edited, adjusted or expanded), rather than to actually complete a project means making it public. Even though many projects are considered finished but not yet shown by the artist, those are not complete until they are shared. Only their production process is, for making the work is half the job.


A work can only be considered finished when it enters the public domain in which it attempts to serve its purpose. No beautiful poem has never been talked about, for its purpose is to arouse beauty in the readers. If there are no readers, there is no beauty. The artist cannot be the reader, he/she is the maker. Everything else is pure onanism.


But why is it such a sensible moment to share one’s work? There is a big chance people might not like it and say it is crap. That’s no big deal. Usually, the ones who tell you openly your work is crap (the haters, with the only intention to hurt you), are sad miserable squeaking creatures never worth hearing; and the ones who come from a genuine place to tell you the work is no good, they do it to help you grow. They don’t pretend to tell you how to do it, they try to explain why for them it doesn’t work and encourage you to work more on it.


The closest friends who love whatever you do, although not always ideal, are necessary as much as the ones who don’t. To hear that your work is great no matter what is usually not useful for the work’s improvement, although it is great for your emotional state and self-confidence. Those friends do so because it’s not so much the work they believe in, but you as an artist. They know you, your ambitions, difficulties and weaknesses. Their love is like a regenerating balm that provides you with the courage, strength and positivity needed to move forward, make better work and ultimately succeed at what you do.


So who are the real enemies here? Those are the people who don’t listen. They are the ones who, instead of focusing on what your work has to say, lecture you on how it should be. They don’t care about you, your vision or what you are doing, they just want you to listen to them and do as they think your project should be done. They know better, so much better they don’t care to understand your ideas and try to inhabit your sensibility for a second; they just want to manipulate you into doing their version of your work. I reserve my shiniest finger for them. I’d rather my project be horrible and unsuccessful then doing it as they like. Because that is not my project, that is not my way or my message.


Those people are cancerous beings with their eyes completely blind by their egos. It is important to recognise and learn how to ignore them, for they will always try to shovel their views up your artist’s bottom. DO NOT LET THEM DO SO. An artist’s voice is unique when it comes from within, it is better to take the risk of not being understood rather than conforming to how things should be in their view just because they know better. Take a moment of breath, smile and show them your shiniest finger. Their only purpose is to feed their big egos with the gratifying idea that you did great because they told you how.


In my life I had plenty of encounters with such people and still do, the world is so full of them you can’t go far without stumbling against them every now and then. It is always frustrating to deal with those people, especially because most of the time they hide behind their big titles and “expertise”. They talk to you from the top of their careers and accomplishments, so you have clear in your mind you're nothing for them or without them. Ultimately, the more official titles they put before their names, in their CVs etc. the less you should care about their opinions. I encourage you to keep this in mind.



Wed 17th February 2021

DEAD ARTISTS AND SUPERNATURAL POWERS



UWS (Ink drawing), 2021


There is an old saying that goes like ‘The best Artists are dead Artists’, or something along this line.

Although I neither like or believe in this statement, I can see why something like this could make sense, and maybe there is a little bit of truth in it, although too little to be relevant.

Artists, in particular the dead ones, have always been considered sort of semi-gods with the most amazing of magical power: to turn anything into precious objects. Shit into gold, take Piero Manzoni. Or ugly looking lines into world class masterpieces, take Picasso. No alchemy actually happens here. The shit stays shit (if ever there is any in there) and the ugly lines stay ugly lines. Nonetheless, anything that has been touched by the two artists is now worth fortunes. Even the ugliest, most horrible work Picasso has ever made.

But I’m not an Art Historian, I’ll cut it short. The truth in this statement lays in their death. Because they are not alive anymore, those artists cannot be questioned. The man behind the artist has died, only his/her god-like aura has survived in the shape of the artworks they have produced. They cannot do anything that will change or alter our view of them and their work. Society has consolidated their opinion and they will always be celebrated as the best artists.

So how about contemporary Artists? Well, they have a whole lifetime to screw themselves up. It is believed that the older you grow as an Artist, the better and easier it will be. I don’t think so, the older you grow the bigger the chances are that your work will be worse, repetitive, commercial, dis-honest, untruthful, stiff.

When you’re starting out it’s just you and your passions, ideas, desires. You are genuine, you actually believe that what you do can have an impact and change the world, not just help you pay the bills. Then things get all messed up with life, and how to pay your mortgage becomes more essential than actually making something impactful (it might not sell well, not be understood). Or your ego will grow bigger than your work. 

Nonetheless, with the peace of Picasso, Manzoni, Giotto etc., the best artists are living artists. They are the ONLY artists. Dead artists are not artists any more, they are institutions. They cannot be questioned and they cannot question life anymore either.

Let me be clear, the real superpower artists have is not really to turn shit into gold, but to practice the investigation of life as a full-time job. An Artist is someone who can turn the ordinary into extraordinary, who can show you something in a significantly different way than you have always seen it. This is where the magic happens, in the meaning/feeling produced rather than the material object, the latter is just a vehicle.

One day I watched a Youtube video where someone opened a Coca Cola can and, instead of drinking it like we usually do, the guy turned the little metal tongue the other way around, put a straw through its circular hole and used the metallic lid as a straw holder to facilitate the drinking experience. BOOOM! Mind-Blowing. I believe this is very similar to how Art works. It flips your perspective of life upside down, shifts your point of view to a different one, not always more meaningful but relevant.

I’m not saying this video is Art or the people who made it are artists. It is a similar and continuous investigative attitude toward life that makes someone an Artist. His/her superpower is to uncover something different behind the usual curtain of everyday life. Be this a painter, a writer, a filmmaker, an acrobat, a performer, a musician or whatever. It doesn’t matter how, as long as the lid is flipped and the world around you acquires a new different, meaningful perspective that will facilitate our understanding/connection to others, to the world, to life.


 
Wed 10th February 2021

AN INTRODUCTION NOBODY ASKED FOR



UWS (Ink drawing), 2021


To find the origins of something is always half a failure.

We don’t even know how all of this, (us, life, the Universe) has started in the first place. How can we pretend to think that looking at any origin will turn out to be a successful operation? Nonetheless, nothing makes us feel better than trying to find out how something has started.

Because that is the point, it’s not so much the actual origin itself that we seek, rather the act of discovering is what makes us good. It doesn’t matter if we find it or not. We are searching, and by searching, we expose ourselves to many other collateral things we were not even looking for, things that eventually turn out to be even more enlightening than the origin we had set out to find.

I often ask myself why I do what I do. Why do I want to dedicate my life making Art and not something else? Something more tangible, easier to understand and somewhat more straightforward. How did this happen?

It all started with music. In the first place, I wanted to make music. Then I quit music and went for painting. Then for writing, and after that, I went for films. Then came photography. I’ve tried them all and loved them equally.

To be more precise, before music I loved drawing and before drawing I loved hanging around at my father’s workshop, building things out of waste material and giving new meaning to the old stuff. A sort of five years old Arte Povera guy. I can say that since a very early age, I got hooked on that heroin-like shot of fulfilment feeling you get by making art. It’s an obsession, a sort of drug in some way.

Fast forward to today, it took me a while before I could realise what to do with myself. I’ve always thought that I had to pick one thing. Pick one and become great at it. This way of thinking led me to nowhere, and I regret the time I’ve lost being frustrated because of it. Instead, since I stopped labelling myself like this or that, I started to enjoy whatever media I feel like working with at the moment and somehow find a way to pull a fil rouge through them.

To find your own identity is no easy thing. To find your identity as an Artist is even worse. I found out that forcing an idea of who I think I am upon myself doesn’t really work, better let the work I do tell me who I want to be. I’m an Artist, I make things because I want to undestand more about life, I like to question the things I see and experience. I use photography, film, painting, writing etc. It’s not so much the media I care about, rather the story and message behind it.

Here I will be sharing thoughts on everything art-related, but mainly I will use this space to reflect over what it means to be an Artist, to make Art, to consume Art, to live with Art. Either you are a fellow Artist or an Art lover, I hope you’ll find this inspiring.

Although Art never had a clear definition and space in history, since the caves’ time we have been performing artistic gestures in an attempt to understand life. Art has always been as essential as eating for any society of men. Without Art, there is no culture, no progress, no life.

So why is it so difficult to be an Artist and be recognised like so?