Art is whatever an Artist creates. In the “good old days” there was a youth movement which overcame rigid traditions and strict criticisms to establish independence, individuality, acceptance and natural beauty in the seemingly ordinary. This was the age of Rock’n'Roll and flower power and rebellion. This counter-culture spread from Americas to Europe to rest of the world. And it soon became “The Culture” of the time, of an entire generation of people. This is the Beatnik Movement. And we all here at Freedom Fiction Journal ( www.freedomfiction.com ) are proud to present a Beatnik Artist whose works have featured in our online magazine in the recent past. Here is a detailed interview with Fabio Sassi.
Ujjwal Dey (Dey): Thank you Fabio, for agreeing for an interview. The style is unique and I am sure many people would be interested in these works of art. Please do give us a brief biography of yourself in a few words – your life so far, the exhibitions you have done, the galleries that showcase your work, the very description of what is Beat Art.
Fabio Sassi (Fabio): I was born in Italy in 1955 and I live and work in Bologna. Before being a visual artist I worked as bookstore assistant, photographer, writer, bluesman (harp & vocals) sometimes all together.
My work can be seen on several online magazines like This Zine, Red Fez, Right Hand Pointing, Synchronized Chaos Magazine, Qwerty Magazine, Orion Headless, OVS Magazine, Phoebe Journal, Rem Magazine, Yes Poetry, Four and Twenty, Burner Magazine, Every Day Other Things, Minetta Review and last but not least the amazing Freedom Fiction Journal!
I must say that I’ve been surprised and honored to be a featured at MadSwirl.com, a website housing modern day Beat-influenced writers, photographers, painters and illustrators.
I’ve always been a fan and a reader of Jack Kerouac and I like the Philosophy of the Beat Generation, but I’ve never considered myself a beat artist.
Anyway I like jazz, blues, funky, r’n’b (there’s always music on when I’m painting), the freedom to travel and I try to be in… Beat with the times.
Dey: What term would you use to describe your style of art?
Fabio: Weird… unusual…
Dey: How is it different from the traditional artists doing the rounds in art galleries world over?
Fabio: It’s a great opportunity!
Dey: Would you like to be mainstream? Bring your art in vogue? Or are you happy with the alternate attention you get from those who understand this style?
Fabio: The third one.
Dey: Let’s go to the origin story. How did you come about to doing the artwork you do?
Fabio: Stenciling is quite old: stencil paintings of hands were common throughout the prehistoric period.
My starting point was after a trip to France in 1989 where the art of stenciling was on many walls in several towns.
Dey: Any formal training in art? Apprenticeship with anyone?
Fabio: I’m a self-taught visual artist since 1990.
Dey: They said Beat Generation lived, thrived and died in the late 1960s. What exists of them now? In art, literature or music?
Fabio: I think there’s something of the Beat Generation mood in the Occupy Wall Street movement, the graffiti art… I don’t see in music something so powerful as the jazz that Jack Kerouac loved and in literature I’m still waiting the thrill of reading something comparable with On the Road or Howl.
Dey: How close are you to the Beat Art movement?
Fabio: I can be close to it just in spirit because, as you know it has been a movement born in USA around 1952. I’m a fan of Robert Rauschenberg and Dennis Hopper (as photographer and actor).
I definitely love the power of that movement to breaking the rules.
Dey: Would you like to be known as an artist or a non-conformist?
Fabio: As a non-conformist artist.
Dey: Do you have a rebel inside you? Maybe in younger days or maybe more now that you have a body of work to shame quite a few critics?
Fabio: Yes, absolutely and I think that now it’s the time to show our rebel side against the overwhelming power of the banking lobbies, corporations, etc.
Dey: What are the tools of your trade? The raw materials you use to create your unique work.
Fabio: I use spray paint acrylics and lots found objects, like nuts, bolts, rings, clips, washers, cotter pins, rubber gaskets, tiny gears etc.
Then I mix up by using both positive and negative homemade stencils.
Dey: Tell us about your academic background. Was there ever a hint of your current career in the growing up days?
Fabio: I have no academic background.
Dey: Do you also do custom work? Like work commissioned to you. Some moneybags dude telling you what art he/ she wants and you to produce it.
Fabio: Sometimes I’ve been asked to make some commissioned artworks, but it’s not what I wish.
Dey: How close are you to your artwork? Does it hurt letting go of an original when you sell it – a transaction that ends your control and hold over your “baby”.
Fabio: I don’t care too much about letting go my artworks: I still have the know-how. But sometimes it is difficult to re-create that special color mixing, you know…
Dey: Does it feel pride or odd to introduce yourself as a professional artist? Is it pride in the work or is it odd because you never saw it as an occupation?
Fabio: Talking about mixing… a good mix of the two.
Dey: What do you miss in modern artwork? Is there an era or artist you admire and aspire to match?
Fabio: Pop Art, Andy Warhol!
Dey: When you are not working on a piece of art, what is your favourite pastime?
Fabio: Staying outdoor, walking, cycling, playing basketball, taking photographs.
Dey: What is the major influence on your artwork? Is it Pop culture, the city, the world news, the music/movies that you come across, any muse, what drives your art?
Fabio: All that you mentioned and Andy Warhol.
Dey: Would you say you are happier when you create your masterpiece or when you see someone else admiring it genuinely? What’s the joy – creation or applause?
Fabio: Good question! Well, I think that the creation time really gives me satisfaction and a fine mood.
Dey: Is sale important to you? If it didn’t sell, would you change and adapt your art to the market trends? Or do you fight against the tide to bring your work in vogue?
Fabio: Sale is important, but I don’t adapt my art to the market.
Dey: If there was a young guy starting out and dreaming of being an artist – what crucial words of wisdom would you tell him?
Fabio: Keep on painting, creating, dreaming!
Dey: How hard has it been to establish yourself in this field? A struggle, a fight, a cruise or has it been simply nice and lucky?
Fabio: I’m still in progress, you know… this field is really crowded!
Dey: Would you recommend any particular artwork of yours – something that you feel represents your very best?
Fabio: Kaleidobrandscope (c). It’s a new word I’ve invented for an artwork that aims to show the mishmash of the markets.
Dey: Where do you see yourself heading – your art? Where do you wanna take it? Any particular direction? Develop a brand, a most unique imprint that instantly screams “Fabio”? Or are there other plans for your art?
Fabio: I know that a brand is important, but I have no plans in that way.
Dey: How do you feel about commercialisation in art? Mass produced gifting of art prints and other cheap lounge art?
Fabio: I really don’t like it! Most of the times are kitsch stuff.
Dey: What’s the motto you follow to see yourself through a workday in your studio?
Fabio: Free your mind!
Dey: If you could paint outdoors and I mean anywhere in the world – where and what would you like to paint over and give a new look? (example: Pyramids, The White House, the Great Wall of China, the local church, your neighbours cat LOL, the girlfriend’s dress you hate, etc. )
Fabio: “Let’s put a new coat of paint on this lonesome old town…” used to sing Tom Waits
I’ve painted outdoors for a decade only on the yellow shuttering panels of the building sites of my town. I like the temporary surfaces more than the walls.
Dey: One last question now Fabio, tell us about the last thing you think about when you go to bed to sleep and the first thing that comes to your mind when you wake up.
Fabio: The last thing: I’m tired!
The first thing: let’s go!
Dey: Thank You Fabio.
Fabio: Thank You!