“For me, disobedience is the only rule of art” – Corriere.it

from Maurizio Cattelan and Anish Kapoor

The artist gave an interview to Maurizio Cattelan. “We are not luxury goods manufacturers. Our role is to be radical in a world that has forgotten what it means to be radical.”

Hello Anish. I know that you start work at 9:30 every morning. This is true? But what do you do when you wake up?

“I wake up at 6:30. After breakfast I do meditation. I start work at 9:30 and continue until 18:00 – a normal working day.

How do you spend your free time?

“I read, watch TV, walk, play with my son.”

Did you see the last exhibit (perhaps not yours)?

“Kiefer at the Doge’s Palace in Venice”.

I thought you were a sculptor, but you paint… (Maurizio laughs)

“I go where my work takes me. In the last 40 years I have been painting and in a way they have attracted more attention.”

Do you have teachers other than Giorgione, Tiziano, Antonello da Messina?

“All those you named and many, many more: Barnet Newman; Picasso; Walter Benjamin; Julia Kristeva; Paul Celan; my dear friend Homi Bhabha and so on.”

What is the creative process for you?

“I have a file. Constant and continuous work arises from practice. I don’t believe in good ideas. All ideas are good, I try to adhere to the principle of “first idea, best idea”. My job is to discover what is hidden or semi-unknown within me. Unrecognized is known. I do at least one job a day.”

What is the operating structure of your studio? How many people work with you on your work?

“I have 23 people in the studio – about ten work in the studio, and the rest in the administration. I work alone in a separate room. Sculpture is a long process.”

Do you work more with visions or materials? Where does your project start and how does it come to life?

Alchemy, vision and materials. I once asked a quantum physicist what the quantum difference is between painting on a subway and painting on a large piece of art. He couldn’t answer me, but I know that painting on a great work of art has psychic matter and is different from painting on the subway. In other words, he underwent an alchemical transformation. The mixture of mind and matter is the miracle that we humans can do and that we forgot that we can.”

Is the purchase of Palazzo Manfrin connected with a personal need to guarantee the future of your work? Are you afraid of being forgotten? Why did you choose Venice?

“I don’t care what happens after my death. I bought Manfrin for pleasure, nonsense, but I love Venice.”

Is it true that your Venice exhibition is entirely focused on the presentation of the opposition, the opposition between light and darkness, presence and absence, idea and reality? Do you think you have succeeded?

“No existing exhibition concentrates on one thing, I have nothing to say. I don’t have messages to send as an artist. Art with messages is devalued by the need to say something. Great art carries meaning by interacting with the viewer. I believe that over the years there has emerged an enduring reality of a universe of opposites – day and night, male and female, good and evil, fullness and emptiness. Tell me, dear Maurizio, have I succeeded?

What is your absolute black really?

“This material is derived from nanotechnology. It is the blackest material in the universe, blacker than a black hole. This is a substance that is placed on the surface and then placed in the reactor. This process causes the particles to stand up like fibers on velvet. To give a sense of proportion: if a particle is one meter wide, it is 300 meters high, and this causes light to be trapped between the particles and have no chance of escaping. This nanomaterial absorbs 99.8% of all light. There were two great discoveries during the Renaissance. One of them, of course, is the perspective that puts the person in the center, and the other is the fold. A fold is the essence of being – a body wrapped in a dress or fold. If this black material is placed on the crease, the crease will disappear. You can’t see it anymore. So, I think that this project of mine takes the object Beyond Being… Obviously, I mean Malevich’s Black Square and his statement that this is a four-dimensional proposal. Art must embody the mythological reality. There is so much mystery in the confusion between the eye, the heart and the mind.”

For you, the meaning of your work is connected with the view of the observer? I ask because many years ago, a visitor got into your work “Descent into Limbo”, made with Vantablack. Have you become friends?

“The eye of the observer is essential. I do not make art for the viewer, but I am aware of how the viewer completes the cycle of the work. We cannot look without identification, because we look with love, hatred, desire, disgust, admiration, etc. It is impossible to do otherwise. Since art is mythological and not related to the object itself, it plays with these things within us. Descent to Limbo it is a deep hole in the ground, made in the form of an object on the floor. This space is so full of darkness that it is no longer empty. This space is filled with darkness. The guy couldn’t believe what he saw in front of him. Even though I was told it was dangerous. He jumped into it… No, we are not friends, but I would be glad to meet him. Kant says that the sublime is full of risks. Losing ourselves is our biggest fear. Get on the edge and jump… fly or die.”

Why are you obsessed with the non-object?

“In a world full of objects, this is the opposite of an object. The inner space is larger than what it contains. Close your eyes and ask if the space you occupy corresponds to the physical limit of your body. Our imaginary selves are made up of invisible objects, and I have found that the real objective world is also made up of a semi-real or unreal-real, No-object.”

How to become an artist? How did you do that?

“Being crazy, deeply anti-authoritarian and unwilling to play along. I wrote on the walls of my office: if you don’t agree, if you don’t obey, you disavow. Society is the mistress, don’t be a slave, don’t you agree, be an artist and tell the world to take him to this place.”

How important is the technique compared to the idea?

“It doesn’t matter. But ideas don’t matter either. Art lives in the space between idea and no idea. In a universe full of named and understandable objects, Art rarely has something unknowable or unnameable to offer. It’s worth a lifetime’s work.”

Who decides what art is today? Are there any differences from the past?

“We are in a deep cultural crisis. All formal territories have been crossed. Everything is allowed. This causes confusion. Unfortunately, we have ignorant lunatics who call themselves curators and apparently run our museums. Museums are confused, they have lost the means of expressing aesthetic and poetic judgments, and therefore they travel the world, collecting here and there art, a kind of exotic. Guided by politically correct and extremely banal programs. All this while maintaining the hierarchy of the white male in relation to historical events. What nonsense. We artists must refuse to be part of this ignorant cultural neo-colonialism.”

How much of your research is driven by the needs of the market, or how much is it a completely unconscious, unconscious, free act?

“The market is the enemy of artists. Working for the market means the death of the artist and art, and money is one of the mythological properties of art.

In The House of Asterion, Borges explains that the terrible Minotaur is not (only) a monster, but is in fact the victim of Theseus. Should art do this to you? Turn common sense upside down?

“Yeah. The great psychic seer Sigmund Freud led us to rediscover what the ancients knew, that all monsters are victims, that psychic language is both factual and counterfactual.”

Do you think art is in crisis today? If yes, why? Or do you think that art is still capable of really producing something new?

“As I said, the culture is in a deep crisis. We have become slaves of capitalism. We must always remember that we artists are not manufacturers of luxury goods. Our role is to be RADICAL in a world that has forgotten what a radical can be. How is it possible that the radical is for sale? Once absorbed, art can no longer be radical. All darkness has gone from us. We enslave our children to capitalism, depriving them of creativity and individuality. Disobedience is the only way out. As long as we don’t refuse to follow the rules, we fall into the conformity trap. The human spirit is beautiful and full of ingenuity, but in the 21st century it is now a slave. ARTISTS, FREE YOURSELF.”

Which living artist do you envy?

“Those who tell the world to go to hell. The ones who won’t play along.”

Maurizio Cattelan, Anish Kapoor © Marsilio Arte

June 22, 2022 (modified June 22, 2022 | 11:28 PM)

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