Interview with Jago, exhibited in the Palazzo Bonaparte in Rome

The exhibition dedicated to the young sculptor will run until July 3, 2022 Iago, curated at the Palazzo Bonaparte by Maria Teresa Benedetti. Jago has followers around the world, most notably in the United Arab Emirates, and has become a communication phenomenon with his great technical skill in marble sculpture. With 697,000 followers on Instagram – Damien Hirst has 608,000, Jeff Koons 482,000 – Jago manages to draw attention to himself, supported in his working group by the project manager Tommaso Zijno and from the brand manager and partner Michele Ruggieri.

Iago, credit Dirk Vogel

You have reached an important milestone with the exhibition in the Palazzo Bonaparte. What’s next?
What is happening right now is physiological because I am accompanied by a genuine ambition and I am surrounded by people who share my same mentality and love of experimentation. It is like a tree that is born because there is fertile soil. Jago is no different than the Jago of 12 years ago. He’s just as excited. Perhaps this exhibition could find expression elsewhere and enrich itself with the sculptures that I make by hand.

Like Ajax and Cassandra?
I’m doing it for Naples, at the Fercam lab outside of Rome. It is a 3 meter work in Carrara marble, it is an adventure: the challenge is also to find out where to place it.

Why this topic?
It’s an image I’ve never seen in a sculpture, it comes for personal reasons I can’t say because it would mean devaluing it, there’s an intimacy that shouldn’t be revealed. I feel the need to listen to the viewpoints of those who will be using the sculpture. In Naples, a Sri Lankan lady entered the atelier, touched the Pietà, kissed her hand, said a prayer, and left. My work was not born with a religious intent, but that meaning was ascribed to it; it was a fundamental lesson: avoiding explaining what is upstream makes up everyone’s image, everyone participates in it in different ways. My job is to construct an image and give it at most a title without risking giving away the message.

The invasion of Ukraine shattered our certainty, what are your thoughts?
Years ago, the horrific images of the war in Syria broke through, spreading to our consciousness like a virus. The Pietà was colored a posteriori by the tension of this conflict. Now, sharing in the suffering of the moment, I interpreted differently the Excalibur work I had done many years ago: it was the result of previous conditioning, it came from images stored in the past.

Private collection - Franz Ludwig Catel Foundation, photo by Jago
Container, 2015, marble, various sizes
Private collection – Franz Ludwig Catel Foundation, photo by Jago

Would you like to create a work that takes a stand?
I don’t want to force myself to do anything artistic to denounce the situation. I shared a video on social channels using image sequences with Excalibur: First I grabbed the stone Kalashnikov and then let go. Between these two actions I inserted the images of the war in Ukraine; The moment you pick up a gun, you make a choice. If tomorrow we decided to give up all guns, no one would die, but there is always someone to shoot at. With images we can create upheaval, unleash political dynamics, more effectively than thousands of rallies or protests on the streets. Just a picture to change course. This is the value of art: it manages to be revolutionary and momentary.

Why did you insert a new signature in the last work?
In the Pietà I inserted a pebble, it is a symbol that connects my latest works: Ajax and Cassandra it’s part of a speech along with that compassion and al Veiled Son… They are consistent and tell a story. The stone puts them in relation. This seemingly insignificant detail becomes essential, overcoming the rigor and obsession of perfectionism in my sculptures. David will share this sign.

Tell me more…
The sketch is in the studio that I received in Palazzo Bonaparte, it is a David woman of which I will first make the model of one meter and then the sculpture of 5 meters.

They will get into a risky rut and be a subject faced by the great sculptors of the past…
Bernini did not stop doing the David because Michelangelo had already sculpted it, nor did Buonarroti stop because the subject had already been portrayed by Donatello.

Choose themes related to the past, to an ancient mythology. They are metaphors that you use to express current issues. Why don’t you look for the novelty?
These themes are contemporary to the extent that my relationship with them is now established. I perceive Venus as an older woman – Venus as a state of being – because I believe that if a woman embodies Venus as a young woman, she will remain Venus through the years.

Jago, Veiled Son, 2019 Marble, 200 x 100 x 50 cm Church of San Severo fuori le mura (NA) Photo by Jago
Jago, Veiled Son, 2019 Marble, 200x100x50 cm
Church of San Severo outside the walls (NA) Photo by Jago

They are subjects that are part of our cultural heritage…
It’s easier to convey messages through familiar images. In verbal language we use words that others already know, the new lies in the way we combine them. After all, it works the same way for images and for music. The notes are 8, but the way we create harmony makes all the difference. I don’t see my themes as repetitions, but as different perspectives. These are themes not exhausted, we could do another 400 versions.

You are aware that you are liked by the general public. But sometimes you don’t convince the insiders, what’s wrong with that?
If I played every day, I could no longer appreciate the music as such, my ear isolated the drums, bass, guitar. When I stopped playing seriously I was able to enjoy the music. When some people tell me I don’t understand anything about art, but your works convey emotions to me, then I’m happy. On the other hand, it’s the same people who get snubbed who sell out in museums. So who knows about art? Is one degree or one way of life enough?

The insider sees more exhibitions, knows more artists, travels and learns about the area… that’s the difference.
Can a gardener know all the plants in a garden? I deal with both the art specialist and the mechanic or doctor. Both express an opinion. The insider travels, sees many exhibitions, but in the end personal taste wins out. Even among insiders, the opinion is often reversed. The art expert stimulates synergies, dialogue and growth. Even with those outside of the art world, I have the opportunity to compare myself and grow. Of course, if I walk in a garden with a botanist, he can tell me how much water is needed to water a plant, which fruits are edible, which berries are poisonous.

So what is the reason for this reluctance?
personal taste. There are those who manage to break away from it and make an objective analysis, others who don’t.

Marble, 140x80x150 cm Photo by Gianfranco Fortuna for Arthemisia
Marble, 140x80x150 cm Photo by Gianfranco Fortuna for Arthemisia

So you think it’s just a matter of taste?
No, but taste certainly has an influence. I read criticism that turns out to be a window to views I miss, sometimes there’s just spite and bitterness. But I claim the freedom of others to express their opinions so that I can exercise them on myself.

Let’s talk about communication work in social networks. You use the complexity of the sculpting work to your advantage, showing yourself “with your hands in the dough”… can you think about the technical slowness in the storytelling work, how did this idea come about?
I didn’t want to give up my passions because of the need to survive. I had an intuition that social media could be a valid vehicle. Immediately after his birth, Instagram was considered a game, it was boycotted. Now all galleries, foundations, museums have a social profile. I thought about sharing my works instead of posting my personal photos. Back then nobody believed in what I was doing; My style of expression did not correspond to the art that mattered.

How did you find someone who believed in you?
I believe in myself, my gallery was online, I was the one managing it. I had to take care of communication: in a moment you pierce people’s pockets, not to take something, but to be satisfied.

Have you been asked if you have a gallery that represents you?
Yes, I answered “none” and it was funny. Everyone at the academy had an ambition to find who would represent them. I’ve been told you won’t find support with what you’re doing. I didn’t give up, I went from photographs to videos to narrate the process: I divided the creation into phases and narrated every single moment. So I made the other participants in the genesis work. That’s where falling in love takes over. Also, I enjoy doing: when I share the journey, I share the peace. Anyone who knows how difficult it is to capitalize, sees it with different eyes, watches his grandmother kneading eggs and flour to prepare pappardelle, eats them with more flavor: you know the effort behind it. It’s human, now it’s part of my method…

Can you tell me something about your idea of ​​an art hotel?
I want to provide art in an inviting space where the customer/user experience can engage all of the senses. Creating a brand that emanates from the artistic medium. A city can be built around a monument, I want to create a work that develops a view around itself, not a sculpture location specific for a place. In this way the perspective is reversed: the art becomes the pivot that moves the rest.

– Giorgia Basil

JAG. The exhibition
Bonaparte Palace
March 12 – July 3, 2022

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