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Interview: Francesco Vullo's Anthropocene

Interview: Francesco Vullo's Anthropocene

Lives and works in Milan, Italy

Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?

It happened gradually, I didn’t plan on it. When I was a kid I used to draw almost every day, it was sort of a need to me. Growing up I knew I wanted to turn this passion into a profession, and that’s why, after High School, I went to College and started studying illustration. After graduation and several years of working as a conceptual illustrator in the publishing and advertisement industry, I got closer to the artistic and sculptural world, also because of some random events I got involved into. Day by day, my interest and passion kept growing. What fascinated me the most of sculptural practice, are the infinite possibilities through which I can visualize ideas, transform reality or narrate stories using different techniques, media an materials. 2019 has been the year that I decided to dedicate myself entirely to the artistic research and path.

Shooting Stars

What is your background? and how did it inform the focus of your creative exploration or the medium you're currently working with?

Drawing is still a fundamental part of my artistic research. Before creating a new piece, usually I do ruff sketches, this help me reflecting on some important aspects of the work, such as the size and its presence in the space. After that, I do more detailed sketches using watercolors, mostly because they allow me to give interesting textures to represent materials and to play with lights and shades.

material research

What ideas interested you in the beginning of your practice, which ideas have you continued to explore, and where have they led you?

Since the beginning, my artistic research has focused on the use of common objects, which, when modified and removed from their everyday context, lose their original meaning generating unexpected associations telling fragments of the modern society or aspects of the human being.

At the same time, having lived part of my life in Sicily, the bond with the natural environment has become a constant source of inspiration. I am specifically interested in the relationship between nature and artifice and the changes related to the concept of Anthropocene.

Studio view with prototypes 

Who were and are the biggest sources of your inspiration?

Magritte's work has always fascinated me a lot, he was one of the first artists who struck me since childhood. Over the years, I was able to refine my research and consequently I also expanded my reference models. In my sculptural approach it is possible to identify influences from movements such as arte povera, minimalism and Cuban conceptual art. It’s almost impossible to make a selection among the various artists, because each of them, in their own way and for different reasons, have helped to inspire and shape my own language. But if I have to name a few ones I'd say Yoan Capote, Alicja Kwade, Damian Ortega, Elmgreen & Dragset.

sculpture detail (from "Environmental Alterations" serie)

Where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration does not follow precise rules. In general, I am fascinated  by the evocative and symbolic capacity of things, by other artists's work, by architecture, books or by the psychology of man and his delicate relationship with nature.  But also living between a metropolis like Milan and a small city in the Sicilian hinterland leads me to wonder about the contrasts between these two deeply different dimensions. Ideas can come in different ways, but they are always the result of a constant desire to observe, listen, process and then reinterpret the reality that surrounds me.

"After the Night" work in progress

Is there are a single work, project, or series that is pivotal in your current trajectory?

I think there are different works and series that I am currently working on which can best represent my current artistic research. For example, the artwork "After the Night" belongs to a series in which common work tools (such as, in this case, a circular saw) which are abandoned and disused, get recovered and brought back to life through different restoration techniques and materials. A tool, now unusable, is transformed into a symbol that represents the crisis and the inestimable value of the artisan professions. In the series “Leap of Faith”, common objects such as rolls of tape or clamps, interact with slabs of lava stone or marble, in a relationship of continuous tension between instability and balance. "Environmental Alterations" instead, features some stones found on the Sicilian coasts that get compressed by plastic bands and metal structures modifying their shapes, this alteration wants to emphasize the impact of the artificial element on the natural one.

After the Night

What were important lessons in the process that you’ve carried forward with you?

I like to work with different techniques and media in fact I spend a lot of time selecting the materials and studying their characteristics. In my sculptural practice the process is dynamic and covers a fundamental part of the creation experience. From the preparatory sketch to the scale model, each step allows me to get to know the work better when under development, and to establish a dialogue that often leads to sudden changes of direction. I believe it is important to always remain flexible in order to be able to grasp possible insights capable of leading to new developments, even far from the original idea.

After the Night (detail)

What are you working on now?

I am currently focusing on the “Environmental Alterations” project. I will take advantage of the stay in Sicily during the summer to experiment and produce new sculptures for this series.


If you could go back in time to the very beginning of your art practice and give your younger self a single piece of advice what would it be?

I would tell me what I still repeat to myself: trust your intuitions, take your time, work hard but have fun, learn how to listen, overcome obstacles and accept failures, mistakes and changes as something inevitable.


About the Artist

Based in Milan, Italy

Francesco Ideale Vullo was born in Palermo in 1994.

In 2016 he graduated with a bachelor's degree in illustration and animation from the European Institute of Design in Milan. After several years working in the field of editorial illustration, he developed an interest in plastic arts, focusing his attention on sculpture and installation.

Vullo grew up in Sicily, where he lived for almost 20 years, inland on near the eastside of the island: the strong connection with the natural world, surrounded by the land's history and its multiple cultural influences have become a source of inspiration, significantly contributing to distinguish and characterize his style and vision.

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