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A conversation with Lorenzo Mattotti

We propose again the conversation with Lorenzo Mattotti that on October 16, 2020 the illustrator released for Artribune, answering the questions of Elena Arzani. The occasion was the recent inauguration of the exhibition «Patagonia», curated by Melania Gazzotti, which was held at the cultural center Mutty from October 4 to November 5, 2020.

The exhibition

A few years ago he exhibited some images of Patagonia in the exhibition «Sconfini» in Villa Manin, Udine. How did this exhibition come about? I had never fully published this notebook, which had been partially published in some catalog, when I had done an exhibition with Cristina Taverna. So I proposed it. For me it is a great pleasure to publish it all in one piece, plus we added the other travel notebook with the fastest notes and drawings. The guys at Mutty are very motivated, they offer refined things. That space lends itself. The exhibition is minimalist. There are no enlargements, but screen prints of these images.

I think the space fits well, it’s quite intimate, coherent. The curator, Melania Gazzotti, also took care of the exhibition in Marseille on the Invasion of the Bears in Sicily. She’s good, she’s doing the New York show on the covers of the New Yorker. When she puts her mind to something, she can do it. It is not easy to find these spaces, organize an exhibition, make a book and catalog.

Melania Gazzotti browses the pages of the original notebook

Patagonia and the silence

Is Patagonia, first of all, a place of the mind? When you’re in those big spaces, the emotion comes from what you see 360 degrees. The landscape is not a line of horizon, it is all around, and it is extremely melodic. Spending hours in the car, traveling for miles, the eye continually encounters lines that rise, lower, deepen, move away, up to a large canyon, which draws a height.

I tried to summarize in these drawings those feelings of depth, those lines that build the space. Trying to fix them on paper, that was the attempt. A kind of solfeggio, music, melody of the eyes, through this territory where there are no sudden breaks, as there may be in an urban context.

The feeling is that he has “set to music the silence”, the stillness of the soul, which is not static, but an emotion and a conquest in constant movement. Space lines are very musical to me. When you look at a large landscape, the space is not silence, but harmony with its yellow, green, blue, gray. It is an abstract music, it is clear that it is inside the head, but it is a melodic and very harmonious silence.

Mattotti and music

Do you have a synaesthetic approach to illustration? I think so. Music has always fascinated me for the images it evoked. Sometimes, exaggerating, I said that music opened more perspectives in drawing than art history. Listening to certain music and compositions, it is as if new spaces, colors and shapes were created in my imagination. This influences me a lot as I work and I think there is always an attempt at musicality within my drawings.

The famous invasion of bears in Sicily

Talking about his recent cartoon: The famous invasion of bears in Sicily, based on the novel of the same name by Dino Buzzati, what is his relationship with illustration and animation? It’s a huge dimensional leap, not easy to condense into a few words. That’s all I’ve been working on for five years. It’s a project that absorbs you completely. I decided to follow it daily, for example, together with a team of collaborators and technicians. It was a big challenge, a gamble. I wanted to hold on to the end.

It has revolutionized my relationship with work and design, sometimes positively. The cinema and the cartoon are a very different world from my work in the studio, from my research, in an intimate space. In cinema you are constantly surrounded by people, you have an important budget, you always have to coordinate, try to explain what is in your head. It’s a complicated project and you have to hold on. The desire was to create a big production.

Lorenzo Mattotti and Dino Buzzati

And what about the relationship with Buzzati? Buzzati is part of my graphic culture, it has influenced me a lot since I was a boy. He always accompanied me. His mystery inspired me at different times, for example, in my first short film, which was more “buzzatian ” than the invasion of bears. All in black and white, mysterious, and tied to the crocodile of Mantua.

So from the beginning I decided to start from his drawings, to create the world of film. The details that he put in his drawings we have spectacular. The silhouettes and everything I could capture, from the characters to the situations he described in the book, were inserted. There are other references to his images and writings from other books. Buzzati is there, breathing in the film, along with my work. The aesthetics of the film in conclusion was the result of the contribution of different talents. Clearly, I held the helm.

Must have been an exciting experience.

There were moments of great enthusiasm, when the first characters began to move, the first sets and composites come alive and begin to have their own lives. In this work you go in stages, it’s extremely methodical. Some moments fill you with an enthusiasm that you have to hold back in order to move forward. It’s an extremely long project. The relationship with the team was very nice: when you have around people who draw all day, with their computer, you feel like you are in a convent amanuense. You control and there is a certain pleasure in all this.

The original interview with Lorenzo Mattotti :

Elena Arzani is art director and photographer, she studied at the Masters of Arts, Central St. Martin’s in London. She has twenty years of professional experience in the fields of fashion, advertising, publishing, contemporary art and music. She lives in Milan and London.

Lorenzo Mattotti is a famous Italian illustrator. Check his bio.

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