Banca Sistema interviews Carlo Alberto Rastelli

11th November 2013

Many of your works could be considered portraits, unusual portraits that emphasize expressions and grimaces, often enhanced by hyperrealistic details. Why this choice?

The decision to work mainly on portraits comes from my natural curiosity and attraction for the human form, both in real life and in the many representations that art has offered us, and continues to do. The deformed and exaggerated interpretations come from my comic book origins, which I have - with great effort - attempted to channel into my painting. I believe that although the human face might have been inflated by centuries of portraits, it still has a symbolic and expressive potential that should be explored and "defused".

What relationship do these figures have with their dreamlike or science-fiction settings?

In my early portraits, the environmental aspect was completely absent, because I dealt with that separately, in a series of landscapes with no human forms whatsoever. The common denominator of all those landscapes was the desolation of the post-apocalyptic world suggested to me by classic science-fiction authors such as James Ballard, Philip Dick and Isaac Asimov ... I then tried to combine these two different sides of my work by reinterpreting the natural element of the classic "bird's-eye" view, which provides the background to the portrait subject.

What are the main projects you are currently working on?

At the end of November I will be taking part in a collective exhibition at Circolo Quadro (Milan), and in December and January I will also be involved in a project in Salzburg, organised by OffBrera. In 2014, there are plans for a personal exhibition at the Casa Turese gallery of Vitulano (Benevento).

What awards have meant the most to you?

Without a doubt, winning the 2012 Academy Art Prize along with the collective exhibition at the Palazzo della Permanente and an article in the review Arte, and being selected for the National Arts Prize in 2011.

As an artist, what do you love most about your work, and what are the greatest difficulties you encounter?

What I love most about my work is the possibility of elaborating all the visual, musical or literary stimuli offered by my environment into something tangible and real. These stimuli then coexist in a new context, an autarchic micro-world governed by its own surreal laws. Basically, I look at the artistic process as a sublimation of material through the pigments of colour and the surface of the canvas. Obviously the biggest problems with my work are technical: the pieces take a long time to complete, and to dry. But the biggest obstacle I find is in constantly trying to move away from the more illustrative, comic book dimension without distorting my personal background and artistic awareness. This is why I see myself in the middle of a slow but constant evolution.