You think of Florence and images of renaissance’s masterpieces starts tickling the right-side of your brain. Creative stimulus brings you back to art lessons at high school refreshing memories of master’s such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raffaello, Brunelleschi, Donatello and Botticelli amongst others. Then you get to Florence, and the omnipresent artist is quite surprisingly a contemporary one. He’s taken over the streets of one of the most art-jammed city in the world in a witty, ubiquitous and delicate manner.
The artist is Clet and his canvas are road signs. I went to meet him and he was happy to answer a few questions for DI.
CLET: I studied art in France before moving to the capital of art: Italy. First stop was Rome where I worked for several years as a restorer in different ateliers. In my artistic career this was a very important step where I could gain fundamental understandings of different materials and techniques as well as consolidating my need of creating physical things that would transcend paper. Important to say that I’ve always carried on drawing whenever it was possible giving me an important advantage when it was time to create. Then, I moved out of Rome in the countryside near Siena where I set up my small studio and went back to pure painting becoming a painter in the purest sense.
CLET: After Siena I decided to move to Florence where I found this incredible studio- where we’re talking right now. As soon as I’ve seen it I said, I like it, I want it, I move to Florence. During my first period in the city I was amazed as a visual person by the amount of visual sign completely abandoned and overlooked by the public. Ton’s of signs and no one to care for them. I wanted to re-evaluate this forgotten visual symbol charging it up with a new layer of meanings and messages.
CLET: Florence. And Florence. Ahah.
CLET: Well, in Italy I’ve been pretty much everywhere, north, south, islands- basically every major city in Italy. In Europe…mmhh.,.London, Barcelona, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam.. I don’t really keep track if I have to be true. I’d love to get out of Europe, America or Asia.
CLET: This is not a question that I ask myself too much, I just love to create and send out messages for the public to read and hopefully move something in their consciousness.
CLET: Absolutely. My art is continuously trying to challenge various institutions and stereotypes of our time. I particularly intend my sticky-man to make a temporary intrusion in people’s life to rethink concepts of legality and justice. I want to be able to redefine and possibly discuss the frame around which our legal system rotate. As a society member one should always question why- not just quietly accept norms and obligations imposed from above- by this I don’t mean we all need to become criminals but we need to reflect upon concepts of legality.
Sometimes I also like to throw some extra layers of meanings, for instance on the 11th of September I created and stacked a creation about the twin tower that made lot of online fuss with people offended and outraged. I instead only wanted to make a provocative association with the tower of Babel- a metaphor for the human incapacity to live together peacefully for different ambitions, which kind of summarize the tragic events of that morning in New York.
CLET: Ahhh. Every single piece that you see here in my studio is the result of hours and hours drawing. I love drawing, so I draw a lot. This is not out of pretentiousness. I tried to learn software but since I’m a perfectionist I was never entirely happy- or at least never as much as with my hand. So I draw, draw and draw- then I have people translating my drawing into precise pixel based creation.
CLET: Well, actually none of the two. I’m strongly supporting the popularization of the mediums, then it will always be about the quality of the work. The role of the artist as the communicator is to find the right methods and strategies to make his messages shine through to the right crowds.
CLET: Emotions, feelings. According to the way I wake up or feel in a certain day I try to reflect and understand the particular state of mind and consequentially to express it through drawing. If I wake up angry or happy I try to understand it first and then do my best to communicate it.
CLET: Never, never, never give up and strive for originality. Originality in the form and the content.
I just love to create and send out messages for the public to read and hopefully move something in their consciousness.