There’s a lot of experiences that Alessandro Maida could share with us, as many as the tattoos on his body.
As many as those of a person born in ’68 who watched the graphic and artistic scene in Rome growing up. As many as the serigraphies, the stickers and the t-shirts coming out from his lab.
Alessandro is also known as Scarful, a name representing the end of an experience – the one with Hateful Graphic Vandals – and witnessing a new beginning.
Somewhere Banksy wrote that some people become policemen as they want the world to become a better place, while others become vandals as they want it to be a fine place to look at.
In both cases there’s a price to pay, and the scars mentioned above are the perfect evidence.
Scarful is not a writer, even though in his works you can glimpse one of the main unwritten rules of writing, the attitude to express himself.
Scarful’s personality is as much eclectic as elusive: it goes from video installations for the techno-punk-cabaret by Gronge to the 360° cooperation with the post-everything trio Zu, through the works made for the project Ardecore, terrific illustrations for the disquieting stornelli by Giampaolo Felici and Geoff Farina.
In his creations you can sense 20 years of history of italian graffiti, the squats in Rome and Bologna, the hardcore, scraped knees, the most genuine d.i.y. and indipendent productions.
It’s easy to clear and catalogue any art work bound to the street life under the (hateful) name of street-art, easier now that this iconography often goes arm in arm with the bling-bling of prime time spots, now that it fills the trendy windows of the most clever galleries.
Rather, it’s much easier to forget the street culture roots to punk, its most hidden and tasteful ingredient.
The collective Why Style founded by Scarful together with Joe, Nico, Pane and Stand just means to go beyond the conventional way of considering the artistic activities bound to the street life, including creative processes and brand new subjects.
In 2003 at the Art Gallery il Mascherino in Rome Scarful sets the generally motionless space of a gallery up in a new way, making it a place where people could move, like in a street corner.
In his works you can face an evolution in the lexicon generally linked to the street culture, Scarful judges the street as a way on/with he can convey his own visions (from the posters to the stickers), not as the dead end, binding his eclecticism in uninspired and abused definitions would be a further mistake.
Authors such as Scarful (who never “tagged” a train) can express over and above the simple “being able to do” and the self-accomplishment typical for certain artists in the scene.
The heritage is the graffiti ritual brought by the memorable mouvement fathers
– Haring, Basquiat, Warhol, Futura –, the one of nights spent in the subway and of concrete objects landing to the galleries.
An heritage blending with many other influences, such as the Scarful’s taste for the profane iconography, chimeras, skulls and the inevitable drop, reminding us not only the intricate procreation theories about hard & heavy.
Watching his personal reprocessing of the metal imaginary, we love believing in a leitmotif between the development of symbolic art inside the catacombs (and the concerning fear of persecutions) and the lawlessness of certain contemporary art practices, in a liaison between the Prohibition at the time of Maccabees -where any kind of image was systematically castrated- and the perpetual attempt to make the world a better place to watch.
Therefore we are persuaded that Scarful’s scars and bones are a declaration of love to those who existed before us.
There’s a lot of experiences that Alessandro Maida could share with us. For this time let’s make do with a chat with Scarful.
Are you doin’ Scarful? A big handshake. Are you right- or left-handed?
Where are you now, and where are you coming from?
Now I’m in Rome, or well, I live in Rome, my city…even if lately I’m tight in it. From some years I’m part of the project Why Style… Together we worked on many expo projects in the past, while from a couple of years we are parted between Amsterdam and Rome, everyone is working at several cooperations besides the collective. I’ve been working a lot alone in the last years.
Is your Rome constantly hot and exciting from a creative point of view, away from the “ out of time” frenzy?
Rome is awesome, I was born there, it pushed me to create my works, but I’m realizing I don’t want to wait for it to wake up again, anymore. I’m living a love/hate relationship with it, generally I like the city lifestyle, but Rome is falling into chaos and chaos by now. I’d rather go somwhere else, maybe Amsterdam, or northern Europe anyway. Lately I’ve been misunderstood as I said sometimes I prefer Milan to Rome, obviously I feel well when I leave my town. My aim is travelling a little more, for sure, visiting new places and collaborating outside Rome always helps.
From what do your works see the light? Do you draw on every-day life and then work on them?
Anything around me is generally a potential inspiration source … I prefer violent (death) and “passionate”, but even fauna and flora, and alchemy and religious symbols…Most of times my works are a relief valve… any strain or neurosis is conveyed and released. For this reason I keep on hand-working, the pc is just a way to assemble the press material. I’m influenced by any visual form of art, by either Classic or contemporary paintng and sculpture …
What kind of relationship is there in your canvas, between technology and a workshop where you can dirty your hands? Burning hard disks, files lost forever, dogs eating graphic pens?
For graphic works I always prefer working on paper first, assemblying the pieces together on pc then, however I love working with serigraphy. Getiing dirty is a must in job, during the last year I used pretty much wood, bitumen as black paint and studs, raw materials … productive anyway. I like creating simple geometries, pyramids, cubes, and ,aking them compact with bitumen, I love the material side.
SLAMTRICK – LAST ENDING EDITION 2007. A huge event of the italian skate scene wearing one of your artowrks … How did you leive this experience?
I’ve always loved skateboard, even tough I never learned how to skate. Many friends of mine are skaters, like the artist/skater Papik Rossi, and the roman Ale Martoriati and Jonathan Levin. Jonathan is also our endorser captured by Mirai Pulvirenti (photographer, skater and Why Style member) in readapted locations. I knew the SLAMTRICK from some years; in the past I had assisted to the editions represented with works by Liberatore, by Pushead (he kicks the asses!) and Phil Frost… obviously when I was proposed by SlamJam to create the projectfor the 2007 edition, I was catched by a heart attack….I got crazy. I’m really satisfied of the success of the final result, Fender customized some Stratocaster guitars,59Fifty a hat and SlamJam a skateboard. I must say that the SlaJam staff was definitely perfect in arranging.
Inspiration with full belly. If you were a restaurateur, which wine or plate would you match to your works?.
Rigatoni with Pajata and a genuine Brunello di Montalcino.
Jumping to another world, what’ your relation with the world of tattoos?
Tattos are another great inspiration. I feel lucky, as the tatto artists I know (Santa Sangre Tattoo, Swan Song Tattoo and Battle Royal Tattoo) gave and go on pushing my creative vein. All of them always give much attention to the art, to any of its forms…
Why is the skull symbol so attractive? Can you answer me, ‘cause I can’t really find it….
Because it recalls death, it might seem a bullshit, but man was and will always be fascinated by death. It’s the only certainty.
While this crisis is going on… Scarful, what’s working in your mind in this period, night and day?
You’d better don’t know my mind. For now I just want to go on with my job, to know new things and meet new people with whom I could collaborate. And then I have to foster my son (Leonardo Rodan), so I’d better not to let too many negative thoughts coming to my head…for now…. But maybe it’s impossible, I couldn’t carry on without them.