The ancients had Michelangelo, we have Jago. He is a 30-year-old sculptor, we met him at “Montrario Arte” in Milan and had a conversation about his art, his new pieces and his persona.

Hello Jago, in this last period people are talking a lot about you and your art; Taking a look at your works, it is quite disruptive to notice how your works are in some ways the result of classic embracing contemporary subjects, I would call your art as something atemporal. How do you handle the artistic route?

I’m very attached to tradition, I’ve always loved the great Masters of classic. My mother, being a teacher, always took me with her during various school trips – I remember one time when we went to the Sistine Chapel and I was thrilled. I live today and I live a contemporary language, I live in the social generation where you can be present with a click; young people can be the maker of their success, they can auto finance their own communication. No one can tell you what is okay or what is not but your public.

Your most famous piece is maybe “Habemus Hominem”, a controversial piece in which you show Pope Benedict XVI, severely criticized for your choice of “stripping” the pope after his abiuration. How do you handle these feedbacks? Normally, how do you react to these negative comments?

Complete disinterested. Usually, I’m the one who carves the marble, I’m the one who take out pieces … the superfluous, I’m not used to let someone else carve me. It is hard to see me involved in a problem, I’m not excited about positive but neither about the negative criticism, people need to criticize others in order to elevate their own presence. I am my own manager, I speak about me and my work honestly, giving explanations only to me.

You are definitely a contemporary artist, as you have mainly decided to use intelligently the reality and possibilities that our contemporaneity offers (social media etc). You have turn sculpture viral, making it a bit trendy to the public. You’re like a Michelangelo 2.0 of the cultural counter-reform. How does it feel?

It is important to start from the assumption that to make something viral is not enough to get tons of likes on social media, sharing content is the most influential thing for social media. My video has become viral even if it is a cultural video that face a transversal topic, it was not a classic entertainment video. However, I normally live with it, I feel privileged to live in this era because before, thinking back in time about my grandparents’ generation for example, there were no possibilities: we certainly have limits but also many more opportunities, the key is to succeed finding a unique way to use what we already have, a cell phone for example, in an active and non-passive way; Young people should see the things like that, they can be able to build and consolidate themselves in the eyes of others through these technological possibilities.

In your works, there is a certain kind of seriality, personally something very interesting, either from the point of elaboration and from the point of view of the subjects. This month’s Issue talks about the world of the paraphiliac. What do you think? Do you think that this reality influences your work?

Every situation or reality can become a fetish. I think that being in a material body we are bounded to desires, it is an alienable condition: if I am hungry, I eat. The desire must be accepted, we should not control the thing neither move passively towards it. Going back to the question, yes, there can be a seriality highlighted in the technique or the materials, a sort of desire or necessity to exhaust this progression: the pebble turns block and the block becomes a work, there is an evolution. And a material necessity of mine, inspired always by the Greats of the tradition, I start from that child who aspires to be like those artists who concludes finding himself.

For example, it comes to my mind your work related to the heart beat, where the seriality of the 30 sculptures captures the attention of the viewer. Explain us a bit about this work.

The work is clearly connected to the heartbeats, I´ll explain you, a beat is divided into 30 frames so we have 30 moments of a single and unique heartbeat, and from every single moment I have a ceramic sculpture. In order to arrive to the structure in ceramic, I started translating the beat in 3D, animating it, then subdividing the animation into 30 frames; then I printed the 30 frames with a 3D printer and to everyone I made a plaster cast where inside I poured the clay. After cooking it 3 times I have just got the ceramic tile. The second fundamental point of this exhibition is my choice of supporting a video in stop-motion playing in loop; In this case I photographed each sculpture once, and with these 30 shots I created a video in 30 fps that I decided to propose in loop, in order to emphasize again how everything always come cyclically.

I would like to conclude this chat by asking what prospective do you have for the future? In such a precarious world in evolution, which role do you think that art will have (specially the old school one like yours) in our future reality?

We are getting into an art of the future, into a new renaissance where there will be given to art a new image. The art of the beginning of the 20th century is finished, let’s face it, it cannot be renewed, sooner or later you cannot renew something no longer. Let’s imagine an old lady who decides to make a lifting, she will look definitely younger but the age remains the same and at that point you think how beautiful she used to be before. Contemporary art is a riddle, contemporaneity can be found everywhere, art is art, so it is narrowing to define a piece contemporary or not.

Instagram Jago:

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Cover picture: Marilù Parisi

An interview by Stefano Riva