This is a preview of our feature on Francesco Igory Deiana in upcoming issue 14.
Francesco Igory Deiana’s Los Angeles studio is littered with sketches and reference photos of work from past shows. The same paper that you see on the studio walls is also on the ground, which makes you consider which is more important, if either, but this is common. To Francesco there is no right or wrong material, nor is there a right or wrong way to treat a piece of paper. Whether it’s from the art store or an estate sale, the Italian artist sees the materials he uses for their full potential. Francesco’s work is a highly-rendered and laborious exploration of graphite, ballpoint pen, photography, and bleach, all of which he handles like an Old Master. His work examines the personal self, form, and the translation between the digital and the analog. Each piece offers commentary on the way in which our increasing dependence on everything digital has overshadowed the primacy of human relationships.
On the day I go to Francesco’s live-work studio, we painted our nails, Francesco made lunch, and soon after we made our way to the studio, where he made space for me to sit at his work table, surrounded by different tools for mark-making. He grabbed a piece of paper and began doodling as we chatted about his work.
How has moving to California influenced or changed your work?
It changed everything. Growing up in Italy I kind of had a more square perspective of seeing things; it’s a lot about what’s “right or wrong” in Italy, and whether or not something is right based on how they conform to the norm. But really, what’s right or wrong? Coming to California gave me the chance and opportunity to see things in my own way; it’s so loose and less defined here. My approach to art-making completely changed. It became free and more about what I wanted to experience and achieve, no matter what that meant in terms of taking the time to explore and research different materials. I was able to take an experimental direction and navigate the more complex terms that my work had taken.
Can you expand on “the loose and less defined” culture of California that has affected your approach, because your work seems so technically clean and almost digital?
I think California is just looser and laid back in general. That culture of not having any boundaries influenced me to stop putting limits on my imagination and to dismantle mental barriers. A lot of my work can look very digital, but that’s just because of the studies that I’ve been doing and what I’m interested in at the moment with my own practice. If “looking digital” is the result that I wanted to achieve, I’ve just worked hard to reach what’s needed for my brain. I have a pretty instinctive side and an obsession for mark-making and repetition. I’m very OCD. Also, I’m not that patient and I’m pretty loose, even if often, the work visually translates opposite results. In reality, there’s barely any measurement in anything that I do, and there’s a lot of experimentation with unusual materials, which implies a specific care and attention you have to give to my pieces. I’m slowly unifying all the more loose work and the more precise pieces within the same concept or context, because in the end that’s myself and I can’t avoid it.
Repetitive mark-making and imagery seem so apparent in your work, why is that?
I think there are different points to this, too. In the more digital pieces, the repetitiveness is what I need in order to make the works look so digital. The repetitive lines become more of a tool; same for the shading part. However, for example, with the “photoshop brushstroke” pieces and the scale of it, the repetitive nature becomes very performative. I made a tool that creates two lines and makes the same mistakes your finger would do in the digital sketch. Filling in those lines creates this mark-making and obsessive texture; you can clearly see the overlaps and it almost looks like scales. It’s very overworked, and I think it shows a lot about this world.
I also have a thing for heads, I always have. I just constantly draw them. The fact that with three lines I can say so much: mood, physiognomy, aspect, and feelings can be represented in a very direct way and can be more defined to complete abstraction. I see freedom to it.
For more from Francesco Igory Deiana follow him on Instagram: @r_thing.
Photography by Adam Amengual.