Since his childhood, Nicola‘s main fascination had been and remained with the baroque works of the old masters. In addition to the professors at the Accademia di Bologna, which he would attend for five years, they were the ones to teach him the finer secrets of sculpture and painting.
While Samorì‘s painting skills could easily compete with those of the old masters, it was the unique artistic violence he applied to his work, which was to earn him a spot at the Venice Biennale, as well as recognition and exhibitions all over Europe. Samorì overpaints, draws or scrapes what appears to you as a perfect baroque painting. He goes further and uses a scalpel to peel away layers of paint, granting you access to what lays beneath, offering you access to what usually remains hidden.
The results are stunning and it is the partial destruction, the skillful rearranging and re- composing, that turn his works into sought after contemporary masterpieces.
Nicola Samorì is currently residing in Berlin, working on his upcoming solo exhibition at Galerie Christian Ehrentraut. I recently had the chance to chat and conduct and interview with Nicola about his work:
AK: Removing layers, peeling of the surface and revealing what’s underneath is a big factor of your work. Why?
NS: I find that there are amazing correspondences between the skin and painting. The fact of lifting the paint film with a scalpel highlights this tautology. The inside of the paint always offers an image unknown, a surprising side that much like skin, reveals a freshness and an intensity unknown in the outer tones.
Is this revealing of layers part of the reason why you work with different, sometimes unorthodox materials like copper plates for your canvas. How important is the canvas, the base layer, for your work?
Yes. It’s as essential as the muscle tissue to the skin, which I commonly associate with the painting. The level on which you anchor the color will transmit a lot of information: wood can be scraped smooth with agility; the copper can provide very intense vibrations of light; the canvas will allow stripping of layers neat or sometimes brutal.
Like with the Holbein painting you often reference art history. Would you say that one needs a knowledge of it in order to fully appreciate your work?
Yes, in order to fully appreciate it, one does. My work rarely comes from outside of art history and you need to know the grammar to form the sentence and to fully understand what the reasons are that define my actions. Otherwise the viewer tends to experience a feeling of loss, sees the work as dramatic, restless or old, which is substantially correct but might not always be completely satisfactory.
You paint, you scrape the canvas, you peel of layers, you overpaint… How do you know when the work is finished?
I do not know. The process can take months and every day something is lost in an attempt to enhance the image. However, I am able to read the weakness of my work. When I paint, something has to happen to the image, something serious, something heavy. When the form has been put in danger and tension is not lost, the piece may leave the studio.
The full Interview will be published in the inaugural issue of “a class of its own” this fall.