Wednesday September 13th, I had the occasion to have a phone chat with Jacopo Cardillo, pen name Jago, born in 1987, to talk about his job as marble sculptor and, more generally, to be an artist these days.
I’ll never stop to thank him for his time and openness. Follow his page on Facebook to keep updates on his marvelous works!
Hey Jago! Beforehand, thank you so much for your openness! I’d like to begin talking about your origins: I’ve read from your personal information, that you come from Anagni, a town in Lazio, do you think your homeland has influenced you in any way?
Actually, I was born in Frosinone, and Anagni is 25 minutes away by car from the city, I have attended elementary and middle school in Anagni, then high school and about one year in Academy in Frosinone.
Surely, having grown up in a medieval town like Anagni, very close to Rome, has been important, the environmental context in which a child grows is fundamental, I believe. Simply thinking about an African guy, with a great potential for music, forced to handle weapons, you understand that the environment influences much people.
Having grown up in a small town, with better tranquility and quality of life, and being so close to Rome, has been twice as important, since the city is extremely stimulating and has spaces which gave more possibilities for the realization to my desire and idea of doing art.
Also, the presence of my mother has been crucial, art teacher at middle school, who in the past has studied sculpture in Rome. When she organized school trips with her students, she used to take me with her to see and visit monuments in Rome. I fell in love with those places, I could see myself in those things.
I have always had inclination for drawing and manual activities, and, also having my father working as a set designer, I’s been easy to notice my aptitude and they have always supported me in my art.
As every child, I had the desire to imitate the great masters of the past, someone wants to become like Maradona, I dreamed to be like Michelangelo or Bernini.
Today, I would like to resemble to myself, instead.
Well, maybe, beginning from those masters, you had some inspiration, to, then, discover your own style.
I wouldn’t say “style”, I’m not too much interested in “style”, something like asking to a musician “What genre do you play?”… It’s, actually, a question I don’t have an answer to, because I don’t ask it myself in first instance. To be honest, I do what I consider interesting until when it is an opportunity to work for myself.
My way to make art and to make sculpture, to investigate reality, to guide myself and to understand the world; like a dictionary: I need to translate the reality that surrounds me into my own language.
How was the first approach you had with the tools of this profession?
It’s been very natural for me, having an excellent manual skill, I haven’t faced any problem.
Technically, any of us is able to learn how to use a tool, for me it’s been very easy, I had already unloaded my creativity through the drawing, and with marble I was aware of what I wanted to do, the issue has only been “how to begin” – but we are talking about minutes – to understand the consistency of that material.
Once you understand how it works, it takes only five minutes, and you go on automatically.
Are you attached to a work in particular?
There is a work, which I was writing earlier about, which is “Memoria di sé” (Memory of oneself), which is a sculpture of a child, situated inside a skullcap, in turn situated inside a rock in a river. There is also, another work, called “Ego”, which is the first hand that I made, which is scrupulously polished, an auto-portrait of something I have needed a lot. But I don’t get too much worried to abandon them, doing art is a sort of drawback, it’s like having a son, you give birth to him, and you “return” him back, consequently I go beyond that attachment, otherwise I would never be able to survive and I would not manage to have enough money to reinvest in my own work, otherwise I would be like a dog which bits its own tail.
I have seen that your Facebook page has more than 200,000 likes (to be more precise 203,445 in the moment in which I am writing), I was wondering that it is definitely a huge success in a period in which contemporary art is sometimes seen as bad and in which contemporary artists are outclassed with the sentence “I was able to do is myself as well”. How is it to be a renewed artist in this period?
If someone tell artists something bad, it is probably their fault (laughs). I can personally tell you that yesterday (Tuesday September 9th, 2017), there has been the inauguration of my exhibition in Monza, and my success has been finding many young people and many people who don’t usually hang around in this context, such as the lady who has worked in the café in front of the gallery for years and decided o come see my works: for me this is fundamental, see people who tell you “I don’t understand anything of this art, but I came from Bari to see you here”. The revolution is bringing these people inside galleries, not bringing who thinks to understand something about this kind of art. Because the truth is that there is nothing to understand in art. Why should a landscape be less artistic? What should I explain about a landscape?
Art is our own identity, but it’s free! In the moment in which you must explain and tell things, giving them a name, there, it comes diversity.
The Internet gives me the opportunity to directly talk with people, especially young people, in a transversal way, every day we receive around 50.70 messages from students of the Academy, students of History of Art, and of people who simply fall in love with one of my works or follow my path. So, there is the opportunity for art to be transversal, not only for few elites who can understand it. When, in reality, there is nothing to understand, if you fall in love with something, it’s love and that’s it. After all, conceptual speculation is fine, we can talk about it to go beyond and to share opinions, but the comprehension of things is a problem of contemporary life. I believe that talking about contemporary art is a disaster, it should be possible to get back in time to when there were academic scholars of “Belle Arti”, and this is demonstrated by young people: 95% of young people who attends art exhibitions doesn’t have an artistic path of work or study. The greatest art galleries in the world, even those ones with elitist public, subscribe on social networks such as Facebook and Instagram, to reach out to public, because they understood things are changing. I don’t care about fame, I care about using this incredible multimedia tool, which can create connections, in order to give me an opportunity, because the feedback I receive on my work is terrific, so, I feel like I have to learn, and I have to know what 200,000 people think, and to discover how they see, from a different perspective, my work. This is wonderful.
Even with galleries there is the idea that the artist should present himself, and that the gallery should publicize the artist, instead it is a mutual advertisement. Today the artist has to be a manager of himself or like a sponsored athlete. Everything is changing, and soon texts we study in academies will be substituted.
Still from your Facebook page, I have noticed that you post videos of “making of”, which is the behind the scenes of the designing of a work in a time lapse, in a couple of minutes overall. Moreover, in a video on your page you have argued that, in your opinion, sometimes it is more interesting to know the making of, rather than the work itself. But in practice, how many hours of work does it take to create a work?
I work every day, from the morning to the evening, also because I do my artistic activity, which is not only the sculpture, but also with the design of videos, music, communication on Facebook.
Usually, I spend some time in the design, 1h/1.5h as a creative exercise on the Internet.
For sure it takes much time for my works, because I do them myself, I’m not part of that group of contemporary artists for which it is only the idea or the concept and they have other making their works. For me it is fundamental to touch my works, modify, manipulate them by myself. Because I think that the value of the work rests of the value of the manual work.
Make the time-lapse video of the behind the scene is an added evaluation, and I believe that soon collectors will ask for the “making of” of the work. Because the majority of users of the Internet can have access to contents through videos, and always less through textual parts. This means that in order to comprehend things, to investigate and get informed, we need videos. And I am convinced that very soon collectors and who buys art works, will demand the making of, to understand how it has been made.
In general, in life what do you enjoy the most? Do you think that a song or a movie have inspired/influenced you for the creation of a work?
I’ve always been very sporty, when I was 13 I was karate black belt, I used to do it at a high level, and I used to set aside drawing and the desire for sculpting, I wished to be someone else.
Even if what I like is working, the only thing which makes me feel good, as a meditation. Art is not something I need to sing, it an existential thing.
For instance, I like cinema a lot, even though I’ve always been little time because the activities I do, often take me much time. This brings me to always being around, for example, now I’m in Verona, and this is beautiful because it gives me the possibility to go from city to city and to bring my art and my works in other places. I let myself contaminate, I have incredible experiences, and in a certain way, I’m always traveling.
I have liked music as well, together with cinema, it has been crucial.
And I need it, when I do the editing for videos, I try to see as a technical aspect of cinema, and I try to imitate it with my limited means.
Among the movies I like there are those of Star Wars, documentaries like “The Dream Factory” by George Lucas on the realization of Star Wars from the artistic point of view and on difficulties. But also, other masterpieces like Shining, or even more form the Computer Graphic Design like “Matrix”, of which I have seen the documentary on realization as well, concerning how they solved economic difficulties to shoot the movie.
What is the biggest satisfaction you had since you work as an artist? Which award or even compliment that made you think that you are following the right path and that people appreciate what you do?
Simply, seeing yesterday in Monza, at the inauguration of the exhibition, or as in other similar occasions, normal people – they define themselves like that – who travel long distances to see my performance of sculpture, this kind of new movement: be able to do such a thing is a great revolution for me. Bring into a renewed gallery, with an elitist public and with precise knowledge in art, a transversal public, made up of people who have never turned into that street or visited that city. For me, this is a huge result and accomplishment. It’s almost a certification, see that in the same gallery there are famous art collectors and kids.
Which are your next projects?
I’ll probably expose at MAXXI gallery in Rome, and I’ll be doing a performance of sculpture 3D on October 25th. 2017, a collective exhibition. I’ll be for sure also, at ArteFiera in Bologna (February 2-5, 2018). In an art fair in Barcelona, 28 Sept. – 1 Oct. Verona October 13-15, then Düsseldorf Nov. 17-19. Lastly, I’ll be participating at the Harmony Show in New York (March 8-11, 2018).
I would like to thank Jago for the time and openness he spent for our interview. I truly suggest you follow him on Facebook and to check out the upcoming events, among which ArteFiera in Bologna.
Translator Roberta Croce