Gianfranco, tell us who you are and where you are from.
My name is Gianfranco Meggiato, I was born in Venice in 1963 and am a sculptor of abstract works in bronze, aluminum, stainless steel and marble.
Please describe your journey to starting your life as an artist. How did you start your career and what brought you to start showing your works?
Since I was a child I felt a particular inclination for art, drawing, modeling, I studied for five years at the Istituto Statale of Venice, where I came into contact with different materials: wood, stone, clay, plaster, bronze.
Already at sixteen I participated in a collective exhibition in Piazza San Marco, at the Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation, organized by the municipality of Venice, where I presented my first work created at school: a perforated stone panel on both walls; it already contained the initial seed of my future plastic research.
What is the process behind the creation of your works?
Unlike many other sculptors, I never start from a drawing or from a project, but instinctively, directly, by modeling the wax directly by heating it in special stoves and then modeling it with the help of a heat gun and lavacrete.
It is a very long and complex job and a work is sometimes done over and over again until the satisfactory result is achieved.
What inspires your artworks?
Telling you what inspires my works is not easy, in the sense that my sculptures arrive a little on their own. It is not that when I start working in the morning I already know what I will do, but as I proceed, the idea born takes shape and develops.
As Joan Mirò said: “Images take shape while I work. In other words, instead of deciding to paint something, I start working and while I paint the image imposes itself or offers itself to my brush.”
Here in this definition of Mirò on making art I find myself very much there and in my opinion the artist is nothing more than an energy receptor which then manages to transform matter whatever their medium, plastic in my case.
Your sculptures are elegant and very powerful. Is there a specific meaning or message behind your Art?
On the general meaning of my artistic research I can say that I model my sculptures often inspired by the biomorphic fabric and the labyrinth that symbolize the tortuous and tormented path of man aimed at finding himself and his own precious inner sphere. In this context, space enters into all my works and emptiness becomes as important as fullness.
Lately I have been increasingly attracted to the foundational concepts of quantum physics
One of the best known experiments in the field of quantum physics is that of the double slit (a variant of Young’s experiment) where the results change as the conditions of observation and execution change.
In essence, subatomic particles are fired through two slits and their behavior changes, changing their nature from beam to wave, depending on whether or not there is the presence of an observer assisting with the experiment.
A question then arises: what is the true nature of man if he is able to modify, with the mere presence of an observer, the behavior and nature of subatomic particles?
Here I think that contemporary art must be in line with its time, also having the courage to touch uncomfortable scientific themes.
Some of my latest works: Uomo Quantico, Respiro Quantico etc. refer precisely to a way of making art linked to these scientific theories where space and time would not exist but everything would happen at the same time and in the same space.
In creating the sculpture, I then proceed to perform separately, without an overall view, each single element that will constitute together with the others the final sculpture that will appear when all the elements are composed in the same space and at the same time.
In general mine is a plastic research that tries to touch current issues and inner research.
You exhibited all over the world, tell us about your experiences. Any favorite places?
I must say that in my opinion, before being in museums, art must be among people and that is why in recent years I have given much space to monumental installations placed in squares or in particularly symbolic public places.
One of the installations that touched me most was: “La Spirale della Vita” made in Piazza Bologni in Palermo on the occasion of Manifesta 12, between June and September 2018.
The installation dedicated to the 878 innocent mafia victims, made in the shape of a spiral of twelve meters in diameter, made up of jute bags, culminated in the center with a vertical sculpture 4 meters high entitled: “Il Mio Pensiero Libero” because in the end only a free thought can free us from the spiral of death.
This installation was particularly felt and experienced by the Palermitans who came to see if the name of their relative or friend was among those imprinted in the jute bags; the Spiral of Life had then become a mausoleum to their dead.
When art interprets the common feeling of a people, remembering the fallen and at the same time giving a message of hope, I think it can be said that it has achieved one of its highest goals.
Tell us about your icomos-UNESCO award. What is it awarded for? When did you receive it? How did you feel? Was there any impact upon your career after receiving this award?
The Icomos-Unesco prize was awarded to me in Florence in October 2017 “for having masterfully combined the ancient and the contemporary in sculptural installations of great evocative power and aesthetic value.”
In June of that year at the International Sculpture Park of the Marca museum in Catanzaro I had created a circular installation of 20 meters in diameter consisting of 4 thousand jute bags with 8 monumental sculptures inside entitled: Il Giardino delle Muse Silenti.
These military jute bags were symbolically placed in defense of our values, of our culture, also given the repeated terrorist attacks that had occurred in that period: “Not soldiers behind the fortifications but sculptures: the Silent Muses, after having inspired the poetry the Muse defends it, the last bulwark against barbarism and death.” (Luca Beatrice)
This which had been my first large installation had immediately made me aware that this was my way.
I was thrilled by an art made of “social” installations to face the drama of the contemporary era and the Icomos-Unesco award received had made me understand that I was in the right direction.
At the end of the installation, the Marca museum has acquired and placed on permanent display in the international sculpture park, a work of mine 4 meters high: Il Mio Pensiero Libero.
How is the Covid-19 influencing your Art? What is the impact of the virus on you? How are you using the quarantine time?
In 2019 on the occasion of Matera European Capital of Culture I had created the largest contemporary art installation of the event.
An installation of 25 x 20 meters was made with more than 5 thousand bags colored with the 7 colors of peace, in the shape of the hand of Fatima, a symbol common to Jews, Muslims and Orthodox Christians.
The founding theme of the installation was: Everything is One, imprinted on the bags in the 30 most spoken languages in the world.
Well the year of Covid-19 made us understand how prophetic that phrase was.
We are all cells of the same organism and a body must remain united if it wants to defeat the virus.
In June of this year, the art magazine ArteIn dedicated the cover to my installation.
“Today“– writes Luciano Caprile for ArteIn –“we can open the drawers of the soul and take advantage of this difficult period as an opportunity for growth and enrichment. In this respect, the great hand of Gianfranco Meggiato, open to all humanity, makes us understand how truly everything is one (…) and how each person’s physical and spiritual salvation depends on safeguarding this conviction.”
Personally, I used the time of quarantine to model new works in view of the next exhibitions.
What are your plans for the future?
For the summer of 2021 I am planning a large exhibition with about twenty monumental works in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world where great international sculptors, from Igor Mitoraj to Jan Fabre and many others, can be viewed.
The theme will be “Know Yourself” the famous inscription on the pediment of the temple of Apollo in Delphi.