Interview with Iago, exhibited at the Palazzo Bonaparte in Rome.

The exhibition dedicated to the young sculptor will run until July 3, 2022. Jagocurated by Maria Teresa Benedetti at the Palazzo Bonaparte. Iago has followers all over the world, especially in the United Arab Emirates, and thanks to his great technical ability in marble sculpture, he has become a communication phenomenon. With 697,000 followers on Instagram — Damien Hirst has 608,000, Jeff Koons has 482,000 — Jago manages to garner attention, supported in his workgroup by a project manager. Tommaso Ziino as well as brand manager and partner Michela Ruggieri.

Jago, credit Dirk Vogel

With the exhibition at Palazzo Bonaparte you have reached a milestone, what’s next?
What is happening right now is physiological, because I am accompanied by real ambition and surrounded by people who share my mentality and desire to experiment. It is like a tree that is born because there is fertile soil. Jago is no different from Jago 12 years ago. He is also full of enthusiasm. Maybe this exhibition could be expressed in another place, enriching myself with sculptures that I make with my hands, with my hands.

Like Ajax and Cassandra?
I make it for Naples, in the Fercam laboratory near Rome. This three-meter work in Carrara marble is an adventure: the challenge is also to figure out where to place it.

Why this item?
It’s an image that I’ve never seen in sculpture, it comes from personal reasons that I can’t say because that would mean devaluing it, there’s an intimacy that shouldn’t be revealed. I feel the need to listen to the views of those who will use the sculpture. In Naples, a Sri Lankan woman entered the studio, touched Pieta, kissed her hand, prayed, and left. My work was not born with a religious intent, but that meaning was attributed to it; it was a fundamental lesson: avoiding explaining what is upstream creates an image of everyone, everyone participates in it differently. My job is to build an image and give it the most title possible without risking giving away a message.

The invasion of Ukraine destroyed our confidence, what are your thoughts?
Years ago, terrible images of the war in Syria broke through, they settled in our minds like a virus. The Pieta was colored a posteriori by the intensity of this conflict. Now, while participating in the suffering of the moment, I interpreted the work of Excalibur that I did many years ago in a different way: it was the result of prior conditioning, derived from images stored in the past.

Private collection - Franz Ludwig Catel Foundation, photo by Iago
Containers, 2015, Marble, different sizes
Private collection – Franz Ludwig Catel Foundation, photo by Iago

Would you like to create a work that takes the position?
I don’t want to force myself to do something artistic to judge the situation. I shared a video on social media using Excalibur image sequences: first I grabbed the stone Kalashnikov and then let go. Between these two actions, I inserted images of the war in Ukraine; the moment you take up arms, you make a choice. If tomorrow we decided to abandon all guns, no one would die, and there is always someone to shoot at. With images, we can create upheaval, unleash political momentum more effectively than thousands of rallies or protests on the streets. Just an image to change course. This is the value of art: it manages to be revolutionary and instantaneous.

Why did you insert a new signature in the latest works?
I inserted a pebble into the Pieta, this is the symbol that links my latest works: Ajax and Cassandra is a part of speech with Compassion and etc. hidden son… They are consistent and tell a story. The stone puts them in relation. This seemingly insignificant detail becomes significant, overcoming the severity and obsession of perfectionism in my sculptures. David will share this sign.

Tell me more…
The sketch is in the studio that I got at the Palazzo Bonaparte, this is the woman of David, from which I will first create a model of one meter and 70, and then a sculpture of 5 meters.

You are about to enter into a perilous rut, being the subject faced by the great sculptors of the past…
Bernini did not abandon the creation of David, because Michelangelo had already sculpted him, and Buonarroti did not stop, because this subject had already been presented by Donatello.

Choose stories that refer to the past, to ancient mythology. These are metaphors with which you express current themes. Why don’t you look for something new?
These subjects are modern insofar as my connection with them is established now. I see Venus as an old woman—Venus as a state of being—because I believe that if a woman embodies Venus when she is young, she will remain Venus even after many years have passed.

Iago, Hidden Son, 2019 Marble, 200x100x50 cm Church of San Severo fuori le mura (North America).  Photo: Jago
Iago, Hidden Son, 2019 Marble, 200x100x50 cm
Church of San Severo outside the walls (North America). Photo: Jago

These are items that are part of our cultural heritage…
It is easier to convey a message through familiar images. In verbal language we use words that are already known to others, the novelty lies in how we combine them. After all, for images, and for music, it works the same way. Note 8, but how we create harmony matters. I don’t see my topics as repetition, but rather different points of view. These are topics that are not exhausted, we could do 400 more versions.

You know what the general public likes. However, sometimes you don’t convince insiders, what’s wrong with that?
When I played every day, I could no longer appreciate the music as such, my ear isolated the drums, bass, guitar. When I stopped playing seriously, I was able to enjoy music. When they tell me that I do not understand anything in art, and your works convey emotions to me, I rejoice. On the other hand, these are the very neglected people who are sold in museums. Then who knows about art? Is a diploma, a life path enough?

An insider visits more exhibitions, knows more artists, travels and gets information about places… that’s where the discrepancy lies.
Can a gardener know all the plants in a garden? I deal with both an art specialist and a mechanic or a doctor. Both give an opinion. The insider travels, visits many exhibitions, but in the end, personal taste wins. Even among insiders, the opinion is often the opposite. The art critic stimulates synergy, dialogue, growth. Even with those who are not connected to the art world, I have the opportunity to compare and grow. Of course, if I take a walk in the garden with a botanist, he will tell me how much water is needed to water the plant, which fruits are edible, which berries are poisonous.

So what is the reason for this reluctance?
Personal taste. There are those who manage to break away from it and conduct an objective analysis, there are those who cannot.

Marble, 140x80x150 cm. Photo by Gianfranco Fortuna for Arthemisia
Marble, 140x80x150 cm. Photo by Gianfranco Fortuna for Arthemisia

So you think it’s just a matter of taste?
No, but certainly taste has an effect. I happen to read critiques that turn out to be windows on views I miss, other times there is only malice and bitterness. But I claim the freedom of others to express their opinions, so I can exercise this on myself.

Let’s talk about communication work in social networks. You exploit the complexity of the sculpting work to your advantage by showing yourself as “hands in the dough”… can you reflect on the technical sluggishness of the storytelling work, how did this idea come about?
Out of the need of existence, I did not want to give up my passions. I had an intuition that social media could be a powerful tool. As soon as it appeared, Instagram began to be perceived as a game, it was boycotted. Now all galleries, funds, museums have a social profile. I thought about sharing my work instead of posting my personal photos. Then no one believed in what I was doing; my expressive style did not correspond to important art.

How did you find the person who believed in you?
Believing in myself, my gallery was online, I was the one who managed it. I had to take care of communication: you instantly get into people’s pockets so as not to take something, but to leave satisfied.

They asked you if you have a gallery to represent you?
Yes, I said “no” and it was funny. Everyone at the Academy had ambitions to find someone to represent them. I was told that with what you do, you will not find any support. I did not give up, I switched from photos to videos to talk about the process: I divided the creation into stages, telling every moment. So I made the other members bear the work. This is where infatuation takes over. Also, I enjoy what I do: if I share the journey, I share the peace. If you know how difficult it is to make capital, you look at it differently, if you watch your grandmother knead eggs and flour to make pappardelle, you eat them with great taste: you know what effort is behind it. It’s human, now it’s part of my method…

Can you tell us about your idea for an art hotel?
I would like to make art accessible in a welcoming space where client/user interaction can involve all the senses. Building a brand that starts with an artistic environment. You can build a city around a monument, I would like to create a work that develops a look around itself, and not a sculpture site-specific for a place. Thus, the perspective is reversed: art becomes the core that makes everything else move.

– Georgia Basili

JAGO. Exhibition
bonaparte palace
March 12 – July 3, 2022

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