Can you tell me a little bit about you?
My name is Claudio Coltorti, I was born in Naples (Italy) in 1989, I’m a painter now based in Athens (Greece). I lived nine years in Paris, where I studied in the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. I’ve always been drawing since my early childhood, I started painting in the school in Paris. At the beginning I was only painting with black and white oil colours, then a friend told me “you can mix colors together”, he came with some of his colors wich he put on my palette and he told me “now play!”: I started painting at this moment.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I remember a visit at Pompeii with the school when I was a kid: I was astonished by the Roman frescos on some villa’s walls. Years later in Paris I discovered Francis Bacon’s paintings. It was such a shock for me that I decided that I wanted to be a painter myself.
What do you like most about working where you do?
The calm of my studio.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I started a few months ago to paint human figures. Before, I was painting only objects or landscapes. It was, for me, a sort of apprenticeship: I was trying to paint the sensation around the object, the “human presence” that’s around everything I see. This gives some kind of life to objects. The important thing, for me, is that a subject has to seem “alive”: I learnt this in the classical drawing classes of James Bloedé in the fine art school of Paris. I will thank this professor all life long.
What is your process like?
I never paint after a picture, even if I am curious about all kinds of images. I have a collection of pictures in my studio that I love to look at. I start to paint straight with colors and then I find a path I want to take. If it’s not the right one, I erase all of it and I start from zero again. To really have fun, I have to work on four or five paintings at the same time. I like the idea of influence that a painting can have on another one. Sometimes I hang up all these paintings together in the studio and I spend a lot of time just watching.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
Daily life of people, with all the good and the bad things that this can bring.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
Meetings in the morning to tell what we were about to do in the day, and then the same night another meeting to tell what we’ve done in the daytime…
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
My drawing professor in the fine arts school of Paris showed me the beauty and the poetry of lines and colours together. I truly admire Louis Fratino’s and Lenz Geerk’s works. I had the chance to see their paintings in real in two exhibitions, Fratino in Paris and Geerk in Napoli.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
A community is very important because without exchange there is no advancement
What is your studio like?
Just a room, it was the old office of a wood shop owner in Athens.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I arrive in the morning, I drink coffee and I listen to some music while smoking a couple cigarettes… I spend all my time in my studio, even Sundays.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
School for me was very important in the sense that it was a space where I was allowed to do everything that I wanted. I had some really good theory classes too. I remember a drawing class in the Louvre where we were analyzing one painting for the whole year by drawing it on a A4 paper with a crayon. This completely changed my perception and way of looking at paintings.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
Sometimes you can feel really isolated, but the most important thing is to keep working honestly.
How would you define “success” in art?
A successful artist is, for me, the one that does original, fresh and good artworks.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I went for a two weeks residency in Tokyo.
What are you working on right now?
I am preparing my first solo show in a Parisian gallery, Galerie Maia Muller. The opening reception will be on June 7th.
Find more on Instagram @claudio_coltorti!