Emanuele Tozzoli – A Journey Through Archetypes, Visions and Nightmares of Childhood

by Rubén Palma
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Emanuele Tozzoli, is an Italian mixed media artist, fuses themes of abstraction, cubism, and impressionism to create ethereal, viscerally intriguing pieces. Rich in color and emotive body, Tozzoli treats his creative process much like a writing a composition, with an awakened sense for the eyes that a pianist has for the ears. 

With a background in music and art, Emanuele was bathed in creativity from a young age. 

His roots seem to have fine-tuned his senses, enabling him to be a thoughtful and sensual artist, transcending the barriers of art, music, and emotion to mingle between them all. Through the tactile use of acrylics, spray paint, and oil pastels, Tozzoli births many striking impressionist scenes, where portraiture meets symbolism, and cubism meets color. Also experimenting with wall enamels and collage, Tozzoli plays confidently with the many niches and methods of expression.

Words by: Kate Smith

Hi Emanuele, it’s a pleasure to sit down with you! First question, that I always ask. How does a regular day look like for you in Turin ?

Hi everyone! A great pleasure for me to be here with you. On a regular day I get up, relax a bit by drinking a good cappuccino and then I head to my studio. Once in the studio, things to do are always different, depending on the day and the periods. Some days I prepare or continue on paintings, others perhaps sculptures, and sometimes I organize works ready to be shipped, etc.

I’m curious. Growing up, what kind of kid were you? What did you enjoy doing and how did you spend your time?

As a child I was a very lively and curious child, I’ve always been very outgoing. This liveliness has allowed me to experiment a lot, but also to find myself tight in some situations. Even as a child I painted and created, my parents keep many of the works I did in childhood. In any case, I also really liked playing sports and being outdoors playing with friends.

I know that your dad was a renowned artist as well, and that you started painting very early in your childhood. My question is. When did you start taking painting seriously?

I started painting and creating sculptures with my father very early, around the age of 5 or 6 we were making creations together, obviously for me it wasn’t creating art, for me it was always playing with dad. I have many memories of painting together or going around looking for objects to assemble, then creating sculptures together. For me it was always very challenging and fun. Up to a certain age, for me, art was not art, but playing with dad or playing with my things, my inventions. A child does not always have the clear and selective vision of art that an adult can have, for me it was a way of playing in my room, not different from taking my toys apart and putting them back together again in strange and anomalous ways. I took music seriously first, then painting.

So when did you know ,that you wanted to become an artist. Was there a specific moment? And when did you seriously start pursuing that dream?

Honestly, it was extremely quick, it just happened. An artistic career is probably one of the few things I haven’t looked for in life, it simply arrived at a certain point.
Before making art professionally I made music professionally for years.

I read that you studied musical composition for several years, and that you think, that some of the key elements, that contributed to the development of your artistic vision, comes from there. Can you talk to me a little bit about that?

Absolutely! I graduated as a sound engineer. I have studied music composition for many years and have spent countless hours sitting in the studio creating electronic songs through synthesizers, drum machines and creation and arrangement software. Looking back now it seems to have happened in another previous life. Before working professionally in art I played my electronic creations in clubs all over Italy and Europe for several years, I lived intense and fantastic adventures, but at one point I found this nightlife too hectic and stressful, so I slowly removed myself from the scene. I still have a professional mixing, mastering and music creation studio at home, where I occasionally play something, but now mostly I enjoy playing the electric guitar. I think music has been of fundamental importance for my artistic research, and still is. As far as I’m concerned, making music is no different from painting, only the medium changes, the cognitive processes that are triggered are the same. In electronic music you have an infinite amount of sounds that you can create, shape and sculpt through synthesizers and effects, an infinite amount of sonic colors that you can combine with each other. For me, managing combinations of colors and effects in art is very similar to combining sounds and effects in music. The way you interact with them, the way they combine and interact with each other. I find all of this very fascinating.

So what made you gravitate towards painting instead of music, when it comes to expressing yourself artistically? 

I have always found a deep and strong attraction to both painting and music. I love to express myself artistically with both. As I said, I started painting and creating small sculptures with my father in the early years of my childhood. Subsequently my studies led me to follow music on a professional level for several years. At one point I found the nightlife of the clubs too stressful and tiring, so I slowly withdrew from the scene.

Your style, with different materials and various characters, figures and symbolism. How long has is taken you to develop that? And what is it about that style that resonates with you?

My style is the result of an instinctive and visceral process, it is the result of years of research in every field of life and is constantly evolving. I am very interested in symbology, philosophy and the various subtle aspects of existence, so I love to enrich my works with contents in this regard.

Symbology, philosophy and the subtle aspects of existence. What is it about those topics that you find interesting?

Existence is a dance of perfectly orchestrated events, happenings and coincidences. Philosophy and symbology allow me to have keys to understanding the subtle aspects of existence. I find all this extremely fascinating, I can’t say why, it’s like a strong magnetic attraction.

With that in mind. Can you walk me through your creative process. From beginning, to end result?

I generally do a lot of drawings and sketches every day. As far as I’m concerned they are the basis of good artistic research. However, I rarely use these drawings as the basis for a painting. I don’t like to control the flow too much. I make drawings rather to bring out contents, shapes and movements. As with a musical instrument, even in art the hands have a muscle memory. By repeating a movement hundreds of times, it is internalized and you become part of it. Thus you begin to communicate and get in tune with the archetype of that shape, of that movement. Once internalized they come out with all naturalness, strength and expressiveness in the paintings. This is the basis for creation. The rest is a succession of technical and compositional procedures, generally I start from the creation of a background and then move on to the next layers. I usually let a painting rest for a long time, sometimes even several months, and then continue working on it, with a different fresh look.

Can you also tell me about your approach to color?

My approach to color is very instinctive, it’s probably the most instinctive part of my work.

You have often used phrases like: Inner being, inner life and dreamlike worlds, when describing your work. Would you say that you’re a spiritual person?

I believe that there are different planets of existence, each planet has a function and a dimension. Throughout history man has experienced these planets through many different practices, and for me art is a fantastic way to access subtle dimensions and delve into the unconscious. I love the spiritual aspects of existence very much, as well as the material aspects, as I said from my point of view each planet has its own function and dimension and they are all necessary and interconnected.

I know that you have worked as a decorator and restorer of wall paintings, for several years. Has that in any way influenced your own paintings or the way you approach art?

This type of work has definitely influenced different aspects of my artistic work. I spent many hours working with pigments, varnishes and reagents and this allowed me to internalize a color and material management that I still carry with me now. I don’t always use the colors from the tube as they are sold, it is a habitual practice for me to create my doughs by mixing different colors and materials, many of the materials I use are materials of industrial origin.

What motivates you?

Besides being a necessity, I deeply love what I do every day and this is my main motivation. For the rest, there are various catalysts that from time to time offer free boosts to my creative experience: a tour of a good museum, an open-air concert, a quality film, relationships with interesting and important people, traveling, etc…

What do you hope that we, the observers take with us after viewing some of your paintings?

Actually I don’t hope for anything, for me existence is a dance of energy perfectly orchestrated in every little detail. Everything, every moment is here to be lived in the way it is lived, by each of us in our singularity. I love that each person can interact in a unique way with my work.

How would you describe a perfect day?

My perfect day could easily be in the studio creating an opera, as well as a day at the beach relaxing. My day is always perfect if I love what I’m doing.

I know that you just moved to a new studio. So I figured, that it would be fun to ask. What are some of the most essential things you have to have with you in the studio? It could be anything. Music, objects etc..

It’s true, I recently moved into a new studio. In addition to the many work materials, music is essential for me, I don’t think I’ve ever painted without it.

Alright Emanuele. I always ask these two questions at the end of an interview. The first is. What’s your favorite movie(s) and why?

There are too many favorite movies to be honest, and finding an absolute favorite for me is just not possible. There are three films in particular that I would like to suggest and that I often look back on over time, in my opinion the entire filmography of the three directors in question should be seen. “The Holy Mountain”, by Alejandro Jodorowsky, “Satyricon”. by Federico Fellini and “2001 A Space Odyssey”, by Stanley Kubrick.

The second is. What song(s) are you currently listening to the most right now?

I deeply love all the blues, rock and metal of the 60s, 70s and 80s, I love jazz, I love electronic music, I love classical music, I love ancient ethnic music. Music is my companion.

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