“The research of a new and deep spirituality is the basis of the change the contemporary man needs. Not just a new artistic renaissance, but an economical, social and individual one. In the symbols we can find the keys to read this message”.
Marco Veronese is a digital artist, photographer, sculptor, performer, writer, and poet born in 1962 in Biella, Italy. Since 1982 he has displayed his works in numerous exhibitions all over the world. Just to mention a few of the most important countries he has exhibited in: Italy, France, USA, Switzerland, Israel, Russia, Korea, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Spain and Turkey. He is also one of the founding members of the international CrackingArtGroup. On his tenth birthday he was given the book “From the Renaissance to Mannerism.” This book would lead him to discover the beauty, depth, and importance of art.
Where do you come from and what brought you to Budapest?
I'm an Italian artist living in Budapest. I'm from north of Italy, close to Milan and I decided to move here after living in Istanbul for 5 years and I've been living here for 3,5 years now. I came here for the first time 38 years ago but of course it was completely different. I decided to move here as I think Budapest is a really amazing city from the architecture point of view and also from the quality of life perspective because it's very safe compared to other capital cities in Europe. People are welcoming and respectful. It's a perfect place to be for me as an artist because an artist needs vibes, positivity, energy - I found all these things in Budapest.
What do you do?
I create art using different media, different means of expression. I'm a digital painter because I don't work with canvas and paint, I realize my artwork on my computer to create unique pieces. I also work with other media. I'm also a writer - I write about philosophy, I write poems. Apart from that I am the founder of am art group born in Italy 27 years ago called Cracking Art - we make installations all over the world with huge plastic colorful animals. I like to touch different branches of art, I can't stop my brain from creating and I am continuously working on new projects.
How did you become interested in art?
There weren't any artists in my family and I never studied art. I think the point at which art started to give me some emotion was when I was ten. A family friend gave me a book "From Renaissance to Mannerism" for my birthday. For a ten-year-old kid that was a 'big' book. I remember one of Correggio's paintings and it fascinated me, I was amazed and I always wanted to try to draw it, without success of course. But as I discovered years later, that was the turning point in my life. My first approach to art was photography, I was a photographer for around 25 years. I worked as a fashion photographer and portrait photographer. I had exhibitions, I was in the biennale of young artists in '83 and then I started to work in the music industry and I worked as a photographer for the most important music magazine in Italy in the 80s (CIAO 2001). Thanks to my job I met Queen, Madonna, Michael Jackson and many others. Music has always been a very important part of my life, I get inspired by it.
What does art mean for you?
I am not a landscape painter that's why it is important for me to feel the energy from the people. As I work with different media my philosophy is always the same: I am an observer of the human condition. I am convinced that art has to convey a deep message, otherwise it's just decoration. With my art I try to wake up the consciousness of the people. Art has to speak the language of the people, has to be understandable for the people - it's my life goal to wake people up. It's important to talk with the audience - lot of artists don't want to do that and that's a big mistake in my opinion. It's just like giving someone a book with all the pages glued - we have to open our minds and let the people enter as we can and need to learn from each other.
Many people don't have the knowledge to understand art and an artist needs to help them understand it so they will appreciate it much more and won't be scared to enter a museum or a gallery. It is painful to be an artist, because it's not just about 'selling something' but sharing your emotions and your life. Each of the projects I've made was a sum of all my experiences.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I love the Italian Renaissance art and because of this I often use Renaissance portraits for my work in a contemporary way because it is our past. Without our past art we wouldn't create contemporary art just like without Beethoven or Bach Pink Floyd or Rolling Stones couldn't exist. I love art from different periods and there are many artists that inspire me, from Micheleangelo to Andy Warhol and beyond.
Coming back to Cracking Art, could you tell me more about the concept behind it?
We are a group of five artists - three Italians, one Belgian and one French - that we have been working together for 27 years. For me it's incredible for five artists to collaborate for that many years! We created the group because at that time, in 1993, we wanted to change the perception of plastic. Plastic is perceived as evil, but it's not plastic itself but the way we use it that is bad. We make installations with hundreds of big colorful animals made of recyclable plastic. We want to give the message: plastic is not dangerous if we use it in a good way. In the past 27 years we've had more than 400 installations all over the world some of them with more than 10 000 animals.
What feedback have you been receiving from the viewers?
People are amazed and the impact is always very positive especially when they understand why we decide to do this. Sometimes we collect money to restore monuments or to buy equipment for hospitals in Italy - we are always trying to do something useful for the community.
A funny thing, during the Biennale in Venice 2001 someone stole 300 turtles from the 1500. It's also a way of communication from the audience. Normally you cannot touch sculptures, for us it's completely the opposite. It's a good way to communicate and teach people, especially kids. I hope the next generations will be more conscious about the environment.
What's the secret of this long collaboration?
Everything is about ego, artists tend to be very egoistic, they put themselves on the top of the ladder. True, we have different sensitivity and a gift, but we need others. It's very important for creative people to be open, you don't develop as an artist without it.
Are you planning to have an installation in Budapest?
We wanted to do that but the COVID-19 situation changed our plans a little bit, we are in touch with someone in the city, so maybe next year. It takes months to prepare for an installation.
How did you cope with the situation?
Not much changed for me apart from the postponed events, I'm used to working at home. It was an interesting time, you could see how people reacted, how society reacted, that also gives some new ideas for my work. I was really surprised by the Hungarians because before the official lockdown they started to go out less, it was very interesting because something like that did not happen in Italy. My impression is that people here are very respectful and disciplined.
Do you have any exhibitions or installations planned for the near future?
Everything was postponed and I am waiting now, there's a planned opening of a new gallery in Italy but I think it will happen in September. Also, I've just started a new project as a sculptor inspired by the Rubik's cube.
What is your impression of art in Budapest?
I meet some interesting artists here, usually during the Art Market here, it's interesting that people come from abroad and connect with local artists because sharing is the best way to grow. It's a very cultural artistic city just like Paris and Vienna, it's really amazing.
Are there any local galleries you work with?
I work with Koller gallery in Buda, I connected with them by chance because a gallery I work with in Capri has a collaboration with Koller. I reached out to the owner, we finally managed to meet and he fell in love with the philosophy behind my art and the techniques I use. We have been collaborating for 3,5 years now. Apart from that I work with galleries in the US, in Switzerland, in Greece, in Italy, in Spain.
If there's any advice you could give to artists considering moving to Budapest, what would that be?
I wouldn't give any advice, I would just describe the quality of life - it is not a big market for art but the quality of life is good. If you can sell our work to other countries this is a perfect place to stay to be inspired. It's a good place to be. It is like Berlin ten years ago, it's really promising.
Are you planning to stay here?
I don't make any long term plans because life is full of surprises and I don't want to limit myself.