Updated: Mar 24
Salvatore Garau is a great, multifaceted artist of our time, who perfectly combines various manifestations of his rebellious spirit. Like Marcel Duchamp in the early 20th century, Salvatore Garau revolutionized today the history of modern art by completely removing the object from the work of art, leaving only an idea that should awaken the viewer's imagination. His invisible sculpture “Io Sono” (in Italian, “I am”) attracted the attention of the general world community and, despite the controversial attitudes towards it. Certainly, it is impossible to deny the enormous significance of this artwork in the history of art.
After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, he took up music professionally. In the 70-th, he was the drummer for Stormy Six, a progressive opposition Italian rock band that was the mainstay of the music industry of that time.
In the 80s, after the group disbanded, Salvatore turned back to art. His art has always been quite provocative and attracted the attention of the public with its innovative approach.
How does Salvatore combine so many talents? What exactly did he want to tell the audience while creating the concept of immaterial sculpture? And why Salvatore will never transform his artworks into NFT? Read about this and more in this exclusive interview with a stunning contemporary artist.
Yuliana Arles: Dear Salvatore, could you tell me, what in your opinion is more effective way in regard to conveying certain thoughts and ideas to viewers? Music or art? Have you ever planned, or maybe you are planning, to merge these two forms of expression?
Salvatore Garau: My real luck is always being happily dissatisfied. Success bores me quickly. Any project that catches my attention, once completed, is already losing my interest and immediately my art is leading me towards another adventure.
Dear Yuliana, It is impossible for me to find differences in artistic and creative forms in which I express myself. When I'm on drums, I'm a 100% musician. When I am in front of the canvas (above the canvas) I am a 100% painter, and if I write a novel I feel totally a writer.
It is not schizophrenia, in fact all my arts collaborate at the same time. When I paint, I feel the masses of colour like a musical score. For example, with a black colour I hear a background of double basses, then a quick stroke of red suggests an electric guitar note to me.
In short, I feel Bach or Jimi Hendrix depending on my movements on the canvas. The same thing when I play; I perceive everything in the form of colour, every musical moment is for me a pictorial architecture.
In the 1,000 concerts with the Stormy Six, with the drums, it is as if I had painted hundreds of intertwining colours. In the same way, writing for me is music, painting and cinema at the same time. In short, while one art dominates the other, others are nevertheless close by and contribute to the creation of the work.
Blending two forms of expression? In one of the latest videos about the intangible sculpture “Aphrodite cries” which I exhibited on Wall Street in New York City, I merged the image with the music of the drums and also the poetry. Playing and painting combined does not interest me, it seems to me to be a hackneyed and old performance.
Yuliana Arles: I see that your creative soul has fortunately manifested itself in various types of art, and your works of art successfully find their admirers. With regard to contemporary art, how do you think an artist can attract the attention of the wide audience today?
Salvatore Garau: The most effective way to convey your ideas to the large audience is sincerity. The sincerity and passion sooner or later is perceived by the public.
But if you don't involve a large audience, it doesn't have to be a problem. Only the beauty and sincere strength of your work, whether it reaches a million or a hundred people, counts. I learned not to get excited about successes (I hate artists who do it) and not to despair about failure; everything is part of your path.
Yuliana Arles: Salvatore, it is so wonderful that your art is so multifaceted and you, as a creator, know how to skilfully combine an artist and a musician within you. Tell me, when did you start to show your creative inclinations?
Salvatore Garau: The whole of my life is dedicated to creativity. Since I was 9 years old, I used to put on some plastic soldiers and made battles between cowboys and Indians in the large courtyard of my house. That lasted up to three days. With my parents' permission, I was the prince of my yard.
My friends came to watch this play as if they were at the cinema (which in my country in the 60s did not exist and there were only a few TV sets). I can't imagine how one could live without creating, for me, it would be one incredible suffering!
Yuliana Arles: Marcel Duchamp revolutionized art in 1917, shifting the focus of art from a man-made object to the realm of an idea, thereby opening a new vision of authorship in contemporary art. You went even further by removing the object itself. Your famous invisible sculpture "Io Sono" (Italian for "I am") has definitely caught the attention of the wide public. What is the main idea behind your immaterial works of art?
Salvatore Garau: The main idea of invisible works, such as "I Am", is to give strength to thought, poetry and imagination, not only of the artist but of anyone who finds himself in front of one of my immaterial works. For me, it is really exciting to imagine the effort of people to imagine a sculpture that is not seen (physically) and to give it a shape with the help of only a title.
This concept, as simple as it was, has caught the attention of audiences around the world creating fierce discussions, lots of terrible attacks and lots of consensus. (All of them are useful for me, indeed, the rumours against it are more important!) We are losing the habit of committing ourselves to reflect, we want everything ready, prepackaged.
Do you know, Yuliana, that this thing is much more serious than you think? Losing the ability to imagine, to think with one's own head, it's the beginning of the end of humanity. Freedom is lost, this is the truth. You said well, I wanted to go beyond Duchamp and beyond other great artists who have dealt with the theme of the invisible in different ways and with different concepts; I have eliminated everything, only the title remains.
Even the trace on the ground in the public square is made only for the video, but the next day it has already disappeared: the absolute nothing remains together with the absence of the artist as well. Now I feel this emptiness full of an infinity of things!
So much full of energy as I would not have imagined when I conceived the intangible works. Works linked to a precise historical moment of the pandemic and the absence that dominated the planet, this is important to underline.
Yuliana Arles: Continuing the theme of the pandemic situation in the world, we should notice that from the beginning of the pandemic to the present, the entire art market is undergoing a process of global transformation. Digital artworks have increasingly become popular, more and more artists are transforming their works into blockchain technology as NFT. How do you feel about the transition of art into the new format of NFT? What advantages do you see in this technology for artists? Will you tokenize your artworks?
Salvatore Garau: I will never do any NFT in my life! They are the most boring art form I can imagine. Precisely because all the artists, absolutely everyone including fashion houses, museums, even the Vatican etc ... are committed to producing fucking NFT, contributing massively to the pollution of the planet. I think I'll be the only artist not to produce even one!
I have read from those who study this phenomenon, that the production of NFTs with the entire Blockchain and crypto-currency supply chain, including the creation of CO2 pollution equal to the pollution caused by world air traffic.
Artists are free to do what they want, but even art to participate in this environmental disaster seems immoral to me. It's unbelievable nonsense, but everyone follows fashion without thinking. Also, in this case my intangible works are already well beyond the concept of NFT (which seems to me already aged); mine is pure poetry and non-polluting and much more stimulating to reflection!
An American marketing company at my refusal to do NFT was surprised because they told me that I am giving up a lot of money. Wrong: precisely because I will be the only artist not to do NFT, I will earn a lot more than the mass that wants to do them.
It is important to remember that in addition to intangible works, I continue to be a painter of works rather than materials. I am attracted to opposites!
Yuliana Arles: Lyon Feitwanger, a German writer, once said: "A talented person, is talented in all areas." You are an artist, sculptor, musician, installation master, and even a writer. In 2012, you made your debut as a writer with the novel “Crudele amore mio”. The novel was published in e-book format and was successful. In the near future, how are you planning to amaze the audience? Are there any areas of art where you would like to further reveal your talent, for example, acting in theatre or cinema?
Salvatore Garau: I totally agree with Lyon Feitwanger. But to be honest, such truly talented cases are rare. Many artists who are great in one art form try to move into other fields, but the result is often weak. They seem to do something else as a hobby. Creating is a very serious thing! You have to know the material you use.
After a few years I withdrew the e-book "My Cruel Love" even though it sold very well, but there was a problem with the publishing house. Plus, I didn't have time to promote it. I have 5 novels and many short stories in my drawer, which I have written with great passion over the years. I'm scared that this is the artistic form that suits me best.
I have often told myself - "It can't be more exciting than painting or music!" Writing is something extraordinary. When you create real characters, it is they who dictate the story, and you are the master of life or death over them. You can redeem a miserable life, or you can destroy an asshole who was getting too much attention in the novel. In short, a writer is like a god, it is something difficult to describe. Sooner or later, however, I will decide to publish my novels. I have always written not thinking about publication but for an intimate need of my soul and my being flesh and blood.
Dear Yuliana, you mentioned cinema. I have already made a feature film “La Tela” / “The Canvas” which was shot inside a maximum security prison. At my last intervention, three inmates painted a magnificent canvas. It was an amazing experience for the inmates and for me as an artist, director and man. I learned a lot from the inmates. In prison, you bathe in humble simplicity, you get to the heart of things.
The film has been invited to many festivals around the world. Still keeps spinning. The latest film work is a 25-minute short film “Futuri Italian Frescoes”/ "Future Italian Frescoes" (recently invited to a film festival in Brazil). Initially, it was a documentary about the new works that I call “Pale d'Altare per un altro pianeta” / "Altars for another planet".
During the shooting, due to mysterious facts and thanks to the space in which I painted, abandoned for many years, (it seemed like the end of the world) the film almost turned into a thriller. In fact, I call it doc-thriller, I don't think it's an existing genre. But here I am stopping, dear Yuliana, I could tell the story endlessly, so I'd better stop. Let many of my ideas remain a surprise and a mystery now.