Elisa Muscatelli – You have an interesting professional background, educational preparation in painting at Venice Academy, and professional experience in a marble craft laboratory where you experimented with sculpture techniques. How do these two disciplines find a balance in your work?
Francesco Casati- A few years ago, I returned to the Academy I had left to make that workshop's experience that lasted five years. Gianluigi, the stonemason, taught me to work with marble and, in the meanwhile, I learnt to observe images from another point of view, the three-dimensional one. I cannot tell in which way this contributed to the change in my work, I mean, somehow it did, for sure, but it is hard to see it analytically and become aware of it.
EM – Yes, those are questions asked by critics and curators intrigued by any formal choice. But it is not only morbid curiosity, I have noticed how there is always a texture, in your work, that accompanies the subject, sometimes covering it as in "Ballerina" (Dancer), whereas in "Movimento Mellifluo" (Mellifluous movement), it takes over the canvas.
FC- In Movimento Mellifluo (Mellifluous movement), those textures become subjects of the work, while in other cases, it is more a starting procedure. I always start from a sketch on paper that happens spontaneously, then I investigate, through the canvas, which skin figures can have, inserting or uncovering the subject on the surface and choosing to what extent showing it. Sometimes I decide to add another texture, sometimes to camouflage it, others to expose it to the light, or completely cancel the first surface.
EM – When you talked about light, you reminded me of the sparkle of the sun on the waters of the Venetian lagoon. Does the city influence your work?
FC – I do like Venice very much, I just moved into a new house, and I think I will stay there for a while. From an artistic point of view, I find it very stimulant, and there is a lot of comparisons. I think it comes from the conformation of the city, you have to walk to get to a place, so it's not only the destination that counts but also who you meet on the way. There are the same difficulties in other cities as Milan or Florence, spaces for artists are expensive, but somehow you manage, there is a lot of spirit of aggregation.
EM – Let's enter your studio. Is there something always present?
FC – Yes, an old drawing from 2009 that I always bring, Il cuoco (The cook), pencil on paper.
EM – I noticed you always use different formats, you pass from two meters canvas to small notebook formats, is it a motivated choice?
FC - I use formats of very different sizes. I usually prefer 20/30 centimeters boards, maybe because they bring me back to the familiarity I have always had with the drawing medium. Despite this, I do not want to spoil myself, when the space permits, I put myself to the test with bigger dimensions. I paint on objects as well, as can be seen in I trastulli del beato turbamento (The amusements of blissful disturbance), in that case, the tin supports contain paper figures: layers of vegetal cardboard that I superimpose, smooth, and then paint.
EM – It occurs to me that this sculptural aspect of the two-dimensional sheet may come from your experience in the workshop.
FC – No, it came much earlier. The first time I thought to make paper sculptures was at the
kindergarten, to create Spiderman, but I was too young. At primary school, I was already used to creating paper toys cutting the shapes of drawings and overlapping them, one over the other, to produce three-dimensional figures.
EM – Were there any references or moments that had a particular impact on your career development?
FC – I really don't know what to answer. I think that discovering Dario Fo's theatre work as a boy made me the happiest.
EM- Now your artistic imaginary has changed, in your work appear "Ballerina" (Dancer), "Il cavallo Bassotto" (The Dachshund Horse) , "Mirò", "La dracena stanca" (The tired Dracaena), "Il Re che piangeva" (The King who cried), all titles of your works but characters that populate the canvas, as well. What are your imaginary references, and how have they built themselves over time?
FC – Titles and works themselves are like a satire, Ballerina (Dancer) plays at the iconographic level by altering the body shapes that a dancer usually has. Il Re che piangeva (The King who cried) and Il cavallo Bassotto (The Dachshund Horse) are the results of daily reflections and subjects with sometimes bitter content, that is the reason why I look at them from an ironic perspective.
EM – Are you working on any new project?
FC – Yes, I am working on a project born from a collaboration with Roberto Nardi and Davide Saccuman. They were interested in my work, and we are carrying out a project at the Minerva bookshop in Padova we are presenting in March. It is an installation and works in small and large formats that dialogue with literary references suggested by Roberto. I am very enthusiastic about the idea of confrontation.
Francesco Casati (Verona, 1990) lives and works in Venice.
Graduated in Visual Arts and Performing Arts, specializing in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, he interrupted his education to gain experience in a marble workshop in Verona, resuming his studies in 2018. He currently lives and works in Venice, where he continues his painting course for two years at the Venice Academy. His recent exhibitions include Omnia Vanitas, curated by Carlo di Raco, Provvederia di Mestre, 2021; Venice Time Case, curated by Luca Massimo Barbero, Galleria Tommaso Calabro, Piazza S. Sepolcro, Milan, 2021; Yicca Art Prize, Hernandez Art Gallery, Via Copernico 8, Milan, 2021; Preferirei di no, curated by Stefano Cecchetto, Galleria di Piazza San Marco, 71/c, Venice, 2021; Extra Ordinario Appello, curated by Daniele Capra, Nico Covre, Nebojša Despotovič and Atelier F, Vulcano Agency, Vega, Venice Marghera, 2020.
Winner of the painting section of the Combat Prize 2021, finalist of the Mestre Painting Prize 2021, finalist of the Combat Prize 2020 painting section, and finalist of the Nocivelli Prize 2020.
- Elisa Muscatelli