by Giorgio Scarpellini & I’M Firenze Digest Editors. Cover image by Silvia Michielotto.
Nicolas Denino’s interview is a precious document about monochrome art and modern society vision is hidden in the words of a very special conversation between Fashion Styling & Creative Direction student Giorgio Scarpellini and the Uruguayan artist. This content is part of En Plein Air, a fashion magazine curated by Scarpellini for Visionary Minds, a project of fashion publishing of Istituto Marangoni Firenze at its second edition.
A CONVERSATION WITH NICOLAS DENINO ABOUT THE MAGIC POWER OF BLUE
“One day, I realised I wanted to represent the human being in the shape of a circle and, above all, in the colour blue”. For Nicolas Denino, born in 1985 in Montevideo, blue shapes are the emblem of his poetics; these independent forms, floating in a fluid universe, approach and move away from each other, constantly searching for contact, so longed for and so temporary.
After graduating high school, Nicolas Denino settled in Barcelona, where he worked in fashion and design. In 2014 he landed in Milan and began to develop a passion for contemporary art, training as a self-taught artist. In 2019, he moved to Florence, where he focused exclusively on his art. Through his work, he critiques modern society and its struggle to connect with others amidst the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding the future.
Blue is the core. It triggers your art. Why? How did this relationship come about?
It is a very personal thing. Blue has been with me since I was a child. I was born into a family that ran a company that bottled water. A very precious element for me. I am fascinated by it. Water gave me something, I am not sure what, but I felt some vibrations. I was so fascinated by it that when I was 14, I went so far as to paint all my room blue. I didn’t realise it then, but thinking about it now, I had made that room my world. It was peace. Now I would no longer be able to live in a blue room. It is a colour that I respect. When I started my research, I was looking for a way to manifest the kind of relationship of this contemporary society. Being a fan of sociology and philosophy, I went on a loop with Bauman, author of the essay ‘Liquid Society’ (1999). The discourse he makes about liquidity, which I have perceived since childhood because I was born into liquidity, shocked me. I was in New York when I started my research. I was reading that book and looking closely at a glass of plain water I had in front of me at the time. I noticed a small bubble of water rising from the bottom of the glass, watched it rise to the surface, and then saw it burst. It was an epiphany.
I compared this bubble growing upwards and bursting with human relationships: we are born, grow, and then die. Human relationships are now very liquid, and it is difficult for them to solidify. There I realised that I wanted to represent the human being in the shape of a circle and, above all, in the colour blue. As I began the real research behind my work, I realised that blue has had a strong social connotation throughout history. Today, blue has become a 100% social colour and represents society in many ways. In the Middle Ages, for example, there were chromophobic prelates. The church did not accept blue. They decided which colours were OK and which ones were prohibited. And they discriminated against blue because God did not create it and therefore did not represent Him. However, it was the church that introduced blue back into society in the 12th century. And at that time, there was a change in the interpretation of the colour blue.
Blue has always been a highly debated topic. Picasso had his blue period, which was also associated with a feeling. What do you associate it with, and how do you understand it?
I believe that his use of blue has a great social component. Yves Klein, for example, is an artist I feel particularly connected to because his art is very personal, much like my own. Monochrome art takes intimacy to extreme levels. To fully appreciate this type of art, even collectors must have a deep emotional connection. It requires a lot of emotion to understand the meaning behind monochrome art. Not everyone can connect with it in the same way.
When contemplating blue in your works, does the key always remain true to itself or does it change?
Blue can change. Blue changes its shape, colour and intensity depending on the surfaces of the works I work on. For two years, I worked with a particular acrylic and saw that it was not the shade of blue that really represented me. So I began a search to find ‘the right one’, starting with an ultramarine blue base and spreading it with pigment until I got a darker, deeper one. But depending on the surface I would work on, the colour changed and set its tone, and I respect that. I do not standardise the colour of all works; I let blue take its course. It is a magical blue. It evokes something. It makes me dream.
“Abandon all hope of totality, future as well as past, you who enter the world of liquid modernity”. Bauman’s metaphor of liquidity has marked our years and entered the common language to describe our precarious modernity. How do you shape your art through the total loss of certainties?
Resilience. I got swept up in the moment. We live in a world without certainties, where the unknown surrounds us and anything can happen. We have changed our way of thinking; we have lost the certainty of tomorrow. This uncertainty is getting to people; we are moving away from others and can no longer trust people. But I don’t take it as a drama. I think it is part of the evolution of society and the world. At some point, we will be able to live with these concepts. In the beginning, I also talked about it with a melancholic tone. With -LIQUID- my first series, I gave voice to personal melancholy, but now with – ANTITE-SI- the circles begin to connect, and a community is created. I talk about it positively because I welcome it, change it, and live with it in the best possible way.
Where do you feel 100%?
In Uruguay. I left when I was 18, then I lived in Barcelona, Florence, and now I’m in Milan. But I go back to Uruguay often. In the past, it didn’t give me what I was looking for, and that’s why I left it, but now I miss it more and more. It’s the only place in the world where I feel 100 per cent myself. I have a great connection with that land. My art was born from there. My self.
Nicolas Denino is an Uruguayan artist.
Giorgio Scarpellini is a Fashion Styling & Creative Direction undergraduate student at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.