Biagio Maraldi It is
often said that an artist's work is a
"mirror", a reflection of the
man and his life. In other words, can
you tell me whether you feel that the
development of your painting has followed
the story of your inner life: of your
passions and ideals, loneliness and pessimism?
There are, obviously, biographical references.
But I prefer to regard my paintings as
having a life of their own, which is not
always connected with my own personal
One day, when exhibited, other people
will be viewing my works. They will translate
the images captured by the artist into
thoughts, according to their own intuitions
and cultural background. Then, perhaps,
my paintings will become the "mirror"
of those observing them. But "mirror"
is an unforgiving word, and I prefer not
to use it myself.
One of the constant characteristics of
your paintings seems to be a pessimistic
view of the world. The figures in your
paintings are almost always enveloped
in a tragic atmosphere that seems to portray
your relationship with reality and your
The feeling of sadness and loneliness
expressed by a work of art does not necessarily
reflect the sadness and loneliness of
the artist. In my paintings, I suppose
I have tried to gain a greater knowledge
of the contradictions that man has always
burdened himself with, up to the present,
to post-modern Man. For instance, I have
tried to determine how difficult it is
to establish strong communicative relationships
within a society that has made communication
the most banal aspect of its own identity.
I would like you to talk about your relationship
with your own work and, more generally,
about painting and the work of a painter.
Painting is a kind of translation: what
was thought, reflection, and conceptual
analysis is transferred into image.
To tell the truth, we shouldn't even regard
it as translation, as if the painter's
creations already pre-existed in some
other form of expression. Painting is
nothing more than an autonomous way of
confronting reality. It is true that art,
whatever form it takes, always alludes
to something else. However, the object
on which a painter works, and the way
he expresses his art, means that he is
under no obligation to bear this in mind.
BM How do you get the idea for
a painting, and what mental processes
are involved in its development?
A painting is created from all those that
you have painted previously, and from
what you have already learned about painting;
but, above all, it is created from a wish
to explore the world, to discover what
continues to escape you...
BM In the past, the relationship
between art and ideology was a great subject
of debate in Italy. What kind of feelings
do you now have about that period?
Years pass, people settle down, and only
the quality of a work of art remains as
a really useful point of reference. So
I give little importance to declarations
of ideological commitment, or detachment,
which really determined part of the negative
attitude towards our work in those days.
I don't know whether critics today are
more reliable. However, I believe that
we can probably foresee that tomorrow
many critical judgements will count for
less, just as much of the painting in
favour today will soon be forgotten.
As far as loneliness is concerned, artists
are generally resigned to this condition,
so it cannot be viewed as unusual, or
be seen as a reason for frustration.
Can we trace the history of your artistic
education? On other occasions you have
mentioned some influences
The various influences in my work have
suffered a process of sedimentation over
time, so that I now find it difficult
to pin down what has had the greatest
influence on my work.
As a painter, you are under no obligation
to be faithful to, or to religiously respect,
the work of other artists. You simply
capture something within it that serves
to enhance your own original expression.
Your art has, naturally, undergone changes
and variations over the years, as we have
already said. I don't believe that you
have ever been part of the "Abstract"
or "Informal" schools of painting.
Was this choice ideological, or was it
a question of your art, poetics and style?
If you look carefully at my work, as some
already have, you will see that I have
observed and absorbed many elements from
Abstract and Informal art, and that my
work does contain traces and references
to prove it. Working within a cultural
climate that emphasised the importance
of these elements, it seems entirely natural
to me that I would become interested in
them, even if I cannot claim to have had
any real involvement.
On the other hand, one has to remember
that the Abstract movement did not set
out to be a trend in contemporary art.
It intended, above all, to express a revolutionary
and fascinating aesthetic theory: art,
free from every moral, illustrative or
didactic constraint, would finally be
able to disclose its vital essence. No
longer obliged to represent the world,
but only to reflect itself, painting could
finally champion the cause of "Art
for art's sake".
Many artists expected to achieve new purity,
a beauty never previously attained. But
this theory seems to be part of the many
illusions nurtured by a blind faith in
progress that permeated every walk of
life at the beginning of our century.
The suspicion, at least a suspicion, that
this might not be true, prevented me from
embracing this vision.