This week’s cover artist, Giancarlo Impiglia, is a big believer in history and aesthetic legacy. He’s not only passionate about his early influences in Italy where he was born but also about a desire to leave a personal signature on his work. As he indicates in his book Paintings For the Queens and Collected Works, artists must hold on to their identity, style and vision with a sense of continuity.
Impiglia describes his art in the book as a “sublime illusion, and artists must hold on to their illusions in order to produce their work.” This statement rings true when we consider his recurring unrealistic style that combines abstraction with Cubist-like images. Yet “illusion” may also signify his theme: the unreality of life that his characters experience.
Your cover image, “Napa Carabiniers,” is not like your abstract style that you are associated with. It’s more realistic, but the figures still are faceless, like your signature work. How did the painting come about?
The grape pickers are faceless because they are anonymous, and also because I wanted to stress that nature is more important than the people working in the vineyards. I had an exhibit in Napa, California, at the Robert Mondavi Winery, and a collector from Alabama was there and commissioned me to do the painting. He was a wine collector, too.
I know you like to travel and absorb the history of various places. For example, you’re off to Istanbul, Turkey, tomorrow. What are you up to there?
I’ll be there for a few days and then giving a talk about Byzantine mosaics in Palermo, Sicily, then Rome, where I can eat real Italian food.
The subject of mosaics is off-topic for you.
I studied them in school. My first school was Liceo Artistico and then at the Academy of Fine Arts where I learned about frescoes and mosaics. I was captivated by the Italian Renaissance and drawing from life.
What else captivated you as a student?
When we were young, we wanted to change the world. We wanted to invent modern ways of doing things. We were passionate about Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Abstract Expressionism. I also loved studying film when I went to the Italian Center of Cinematography. We learned about filmmakers who had nothing in their hands, who invented themselves, like Fellini and De Sica.
Tell me about your family.
I met my wife, Nina, first in Rome. Then I moved to New York in the early 1970s and ran into her when she came to a club I was playing music in. We happened to live near each other and didn’t know it. Then we moved to Rome for a few years and then came back to the States. My son Christopher is a writer and wrote an epic poem, The Song of the Fall, about the defense of Constantinople. He’s studying for his masters in Creative Writing at the New School.
My other son, Thomas, is an architect in London, designing buildings and furniture.
How were they influenced by your interests and art?
They grew up in a certain environment, surrounded by history and art, and we traveled a lot. They developed an interest in creativity, meeting interesting people, like poets, artists, even business and sports people. We went all over. Now they go themselves; to Iceland three years ago. They made a documentary there.
How much attention do you pay to the art market?
I don’t pay too much attention to what’s going on on the outside. Being an artist, I am free to do what I want. Free to decide on my own, not be influenced by art trends, like installations. I stick to my colors and brushes and paint.
Contact Giancarlo Impiglia through his gallery at 631-613-6139. His book Paintings for the Queens and Collected Works is available at local bookstores.