Paolo Gerardi: A gradual rot that resulted in becoming myself a painter
My background was a good natural talent and sensibility. Matured with the denial of access to art schools and by joining the army service, which resulted in the obsession of “working hard”. Also realized that art institutions (at least in Italy) are worthless. I received my education at home which was very strict and old fashion as well as attending the Liceo Classico. I attended four years at the Academy of Fine Arts that I never finished. The disappointment in the institutions, personal pride and genuine love for painting led me to find my own path. I began during the 90’ timidly to create covers for demos, small projects and local bands. Back then my work was paid with just a couple of beers.
In 2000’s with some friend’s band Blaphemophagher from St. Benedict (close to my city Ascoli Piceno) my profession as a painter began and still paid in beers. My work was noticed by several bands in the international community. What emerged was a real profession that now I do with musicians from around the world and no more in exchanged for beers.
I can’t really describe my technique since I paint by instinct. But is a mix between the rules on the color given to me by a 90 year old restorer (RIP) and inspiration from European painting from 1400 to 1800. They are layers of color and classical technique of oil colors. I work exclusively with brushes, paint, turpentine, oil and canvas. Nothing else. No computer graphics, no technology in my studio. The most modern thing I have is stereo and CD player to listen to music.
Bands do give directions. But now that I am known I have more freedom. When I first started I had more directives and bands trusted me less. You have bands that leave me free to be inspired just by their music and those with whom I can create on the basis of rules imposed by their vision. The tension between client/artist is more relaxed, I know everyone already, so I have creative licence right from the start of a project.
I do not have a rational vision, I just know that I love to work hard and to follow my instinct. I was taught by my father and by the local culture to work with the head down. I added the love for my work which without it there could be no quality nor quantity. Without the flame inside there could be no perseverance.
I recall with great pleasure the covers of metal bands in the 80’s and early 90’s. I collected vinyl and CD’s. If the music was interesting I adored even the most horrendous cover. I didn’t have the taste and personality I have now, but passion was everything. Even now passion is still everything. When you create, when you work hard things can get complicated. My favorite metal or rock painters have always been Frazetta and Vallejo but especially Frazetta and in the 90’s Seagrave. Sut something had gone wrong in my head. A gradual rot that resulted in becoming myself a painter.
My symbolism is closely connected with old paintings and not with todays stuff. I believe in the romantic, in depth, in intensity… and all that derives from it, even sick or extreme imageries, deeply human and “inconvenient” for many. The literature that continues to inspire me is what I studied in high school classics: from Iliad’s The Odyssey to Latin literature and Dante Alighieri. Today all that I read are art books. They nourish my visions, give space, breath my horizons.
I do keep my creativity fertile and always dreaming, even with open eyes. And then isolation, balance, solitude, alienation, obsession. I do wrestling every day. Sport has given me the base to paint and a place that allows me to stay fresh, to breath, as well as giving me strength, patience, discipline, dedication and education. But the main thing that sport has given me is the passion for other worlds, the momentum of the physical and for the mind. Allowed my visions to be tangibles.
My inspiration have manifold. Everything hits me, I’m a sponge and eager to absorb everything, good and evil, beyond morality and ethics. But let’s just say that the basis of my inspiration are the European painters from 1400 to 1800 (inclusive). I could name a thousand. Here I quote a few: Bosch, Grunewald, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Tiziano, Lorraine, Poussin, Cozens, Rembrandt, Goya, El Greco, Friedrich, Turner, Constable.
Strange but I don’t have a favorite cover art. I like them all and I do not like any of them. I made them, that’s all. The most beautiful and perhaps the one I am mostly fond is the one I made for Blasphemophagher. Because it reminds me where I came from. I tend to see only the present and the future, forgetting much of my past. Sometimes I do not even know who they are and why I paint. I don’t even know if I have a style, I try to vomit, piss all I have on the canvas. I am irresponsible!
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2015 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.