Interview With Artist Claudio Parentela
Artist Claudio Parentela was born, lives, and works in Catanzaro, the capital of the Calabria region of Italy. His work fuses together painting, drawing, and collage in a way that feels very much his own. He’s been making art for years and has an enormous body of work. These pieces encapsulate a large range of styles from black and white drawings to his latest explosions of shapes, textures and colors. We were intrigued by his style, so we asked him a few questions. All of the pieces shown on the site are available for purchase, but before we get into all of that, let’s talk to Claudio.
Jump in for the interview and a large gallery of current work.
KELLYGREEN [blog]: The artist Mimmo Rotella, who invented décollage, is from Catanzaro. Does his work inspire you? Did you know him personally?
Claudio Parentela: Yes, he was from my same city, but unfortunately, I didn’t have the honor of knowing him, but I very much love his work. No, I don’t feel inspired by his work.
KG[b]: In a way it could be said that while décollage is the act of creating a new image by tearing or cutting away part of an existing image, your work creates new images by adding layers of paint to parts of existing images. Would you agree?
Claudio: Yes, I like to experiment with all I have at hand: photos, colors, papers, ropes, plastics. I love to mix all of them in new and unknown ways. I never know what I’ll create. I follow the music. I listen and the magic starts.
KG[b]: Besides other artists, who or what inspires you?
Claudio: Many, many artists inspire me and I’m totally in love with their work [but besides them], I’m inspired by a lot of things really. Weird fashion, underground comics, ancient stories, Kundalini yoga, Qi Gong, Tarot (I created some tarot decks and I’m a professional tarot reader), Diamanda Galas, Ghedalia Tazartes, Miles Davis, Sun Ra, The Incapacitants, Merzbow. A lot of other [things], the people I encounter, the red wine I drink…
KG[b]: You describe your work as “contemporary art with a freakish taste”. Can you explain?
Claudio: Yes, [I think] it’s clear. It’s contemporary with a touch that is sometimes smooth and other times strong, weird, anarchic, schizophrenic—as I am.
KG[b]: Your work has a strong sexuality, a darkness, as well as a playfulness to it. Has this always been the case, or has it developed over time?
Claudio: You see my art well. There is all these things. Maybe in the past my art was more twisted, dark. I’ve drawn only in black and white with tons of black Indian ink for 13 years. Now I’m in need of color and different materials to experiment freely in all and with all that I have in mind.
KG[b]: Your process. Your latest work incorporates paint with collage, which comes first?
Claudio: I don’t know what comes first. I need good music first. Yes, the music comes first, then it all comes together—all mixed together in new ways, always. It’s a wonderful adventure every time.
KG[b]: You have a vast array of work. When did you start making art? Do you work everyday?
Claudio: Yes, I’m very productive—I know—because I love my work. I’ve created professionally since as early as 1995. I work every day. I hope to make art again and again for the rest of my life.
KG[b]: Is there a local artist scene in your town that you are involved in? Do you ever collaborate?
Claudio: Absolutely not, there is absolutely nothing in my city. Since 1995 I’ve drawn and collaborated and shown my art abroad. I’ve started to publish my art in a lot of zines. Italian, but especially foreign [ones].
KG[b]: Any upcoming exhibitions?
Claudio: I have to prepare something for 3 shows I have in the next few months.
KG[b]: What have some of the reactions been to your work?
Claudio: Good…always good.
KG[b]: Would you say your work has an aggressiveness to it?
Claudio: Yes, my past art especially—very aggressive, violent, sensual. I’ve always played with the dark sides of the soul.
KG[b]: You often incorporate images of fashion and pop culture into your pieces. Are you a fan?
Claudio: Yyyyessss…..I love fashion….and pop culture.
KG[b]: Most of the figures in your paintings are female. Are any inspired by women you know, or women you’d like to know? Celebrities?
Claudio: Celebrities, oh I love celebrities. I love Kate Moss very much, for example. I’m very much inspired by women, yes. I love to start from images of women—and naturally also of men—and transform [them] all into weird alien beings.
KG[b]: Do you have a large magazine and image archive that you pull from, or do you use whatever you may come across?
Claudio: I use all I come across….
KG[b]: What do you like to do when you are not creating?
Claudio: I like to do my exercises of Kundalini yoga, Qi Gong, to study and read books on Tarot, martial arts, to read underground comics, listen to good and experimental music. I like to watch old horror movies.
KG[b]: You live in a beautiful part of Italy. Can you share a favorite local dish or treat with KELLYGREEN [blog] readers?
Claudio: Yes. The ‘Nduja is a Calabrian sausage traditionally made from pork trimmings.
KG[b]: Lastly, do you ship your work internationally and how can someone contact you if they are interested in purchasing one of your pieces?
Claudio: By visiting my web site: www.claudioparentela.net. There are a lot of artworks new and old there and all the information. Those interested can contact me directly by writing to me at [email protected]
[Editor's note: As English is not Mr. Parentela's first language, some minor adjustments were made to ensure natural reading flow. The content of his answers was not changed.]