There are numerous issues that you comment upon in your images: starting with actions against wearing natural fur, through reactions to individual teenage shootings to global issues like fight against abuse of women. Is it only a commentary or do you expect your works to bring a long lasting effect? Has any spectacular change ever ocurred impacted by your works?
When women write a few words to tell me that they have found the courage to denounce their violent companions thanks to my works, I understand that my work is worth something. My works have always responded to an urgent need. They give you a pause for reflection. They are an answer to the many topical issues that concern our time. There are many works that I have created and that have become iconic enough to be published in many school books as they have a strong impact on new generations regarding certain social problems, from the series dedicated to domestic violence to those on disability. Among the many issues that I dealt with, I was the first to deal in a strong way with the problem of furs when nobody talked about it in the fashion system and when fashion editors censored the subject because of the weight of advertising investors. I was aiming directly at the fashion personalities with my satire and that kind of ironic works were shared by young millennials and fashion. Then it began to be published by fashion magazines. I managed to sensitize the system from the inside with humor and irony creating a trend in the fashion industry system. Today we speak only of FurFree. With the series The Simpsons go to Auschwitz I have brought new generations closer to the drama of the Holocaust. Young people are more and more distant from history and this series has been included in many books on contemporary culture thanks to scholars and university professors.
Your works are socially engaged. What many of them have in common is the fight for women's rights. How did you become involved in this fight?
Mine is a reaction to the most burning issues of society, the constant violence to which women are subjected in every part of the world is unacceptable, I strongly wanted to support the cause so I made my vision and creativity available to society raise awareness on the subject. It is a global issue that has no borders and spares no social class, all women are potential victims of machist violence, nobody is immune.
I understand that the Simpsons have become for you an average family who can assume different roles, situations. They can be black or white, they can be culprits or victims depending on the message. Why the Simpsons?
This cartoon belongs to my generation, I grew up watching the Simpsons. I transport them from the world of cartoons to the world of art with my works. My artistic vision tears them from the small screen to transport them into a new dimension, the art dimension, which helps to make them immortal.
What have been the reactions of celebrities and royal family members when you Simpsonized them, if any? What is the purpose of this, only ironic?
Someone is having fun and someone is indignant. This is the era of celebrities, today more than ever people dreams of being a celebrity and this is thanks to social media that give anyone the chance to be able to express themselves and stand out. Mine are not posing portraits, in my works I portray them with irony and I expose vices and virtues of their personalities and this contributes to increase their popularity and the celebrities feed on this.
As an artist, have you ever aspired to art with capital A? Or do you believe that pop art is more mass and the message will get through to a greater number of recipients? In other words, what is more important to you: the form or the content?
The artist is the closest thing to God that exists and art is the most powerful way that human beings own in order to express themselves. My vision comes from the content and takes shape with a mix of expressions, in the sense of color and in various techniques. I am Italian and for me the art with a capital A is that of the giants from Michelangelo to Leonardo, Raffaello and all the great visionary artists who made Italy an open-air museum. But I am a child of my time and I answer to the needs of the time in which I live and express myself following my personal vision and my sensitivity. Today speaking of first or second Art category has very little sense. What is certain is that gallery owners, patrons, museums and investors can certainly influence a certain type of art or artist, but this is not always enough and in the long run it is always the time, the sharing and the appreciation of the public that push a work to success and popularity.
You are open about your illness. How did the diagnose and consequences of the illness change your selection of topics and creativity?
I had a cancer and I had very difficult years. I suffered a lot because of the severe pain caused by the disease but today I can say I recovered and lead a normal life. I spent very hard years and it was an experience that deeply changed me. I saw it as a great opportunity to improve myself as a man and to strengthen my sensitivity towards others and social issues. I live every moment intensely and for me there is no tomorrow but the very moment in which I live.
What are your expectations of the upcoming show by Mak Gallery in Poznan, Poland?
A moment of confrontation and reflection. We live in the digital and social networks era and people today are increasingly anesthetized and pushed not to think. My art is an anti-anesthetic agent.
Interview held exclusively for Mak Gallery by Michał Begiert