What is the history of the gallery?
The gallery was born in April 2018. I made the decision after my experience in Brazil, where I worked as a director at Boatos Fine Arts Gallery. When this gallery closed at the end of 2017, I felt the need to continue the research I had undertaken up to then. With the support of some artists I was already working with, such as Alessandro Carano and Thomaz Rosa, I decided it was time to go back home and capitalize on the excellent and formative experience I had gained in Sao Paulo. Although the two cultural contexts are very different and also the type of collecting obviously reflects this difference, that experience taught me how to manage a space, so I launched this adventure.
What is your background?
The starting point for everything was in 2011 when, with Michele D’aurizio, Davide Stucchi and, later, Viola Angiolini, I founded the art space Gasconade in Milan. That was my first real experience of working in close contact with artists and managing a space, with the desire to do research and introduce unique ideas. The intention was for it to be more than a space, to reflect the identity of an art community and the particularity of Milan’s cultural landscape. I believe Gasconade was one of the most interesting European realities of the last 10 years and the spirit that I try to bring to the gallery today is absolutely the result of that incredible experience.
The most intense memories of your experience in Sao Paulo?
They are many, personal and professional. The first was upon my arrival in Sao Paulo. I had no idea what to expect and I still remember the impact of this city that is so vast that it seems almost absurd. I had some interesting experiences, such as the day before the opening of the solo show of Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo). As we were leaving the gallery together, we found ourselves in the middle of a protest against then president Temer, and when the police started to throw tear gas canisters, we took shelter in a nearby bar. It was quite an interesting artist-gallerist moment!
Tell us about the new space you moved to in September.
After the first two years of the gallery and many beautiful exhibitions held in the Cadorna space - a perfect training ground given the peculiarity of the space - I realized that that relationship was over. So I started looking for a new home to make the necessary step, although small, to give a new image and identity to the gallery. A change that would put everything into play again. The new space is the right combination of size, possibility and, above all, identity. It is in a 1930s terraced house, typical of the area, and I really like the contrast between the anonymous exterior and the strong personality of the interior. A friend has called it “elegant-underground”, which I think is right. Also, the neighborhood is one of the most interesting places for art in Milan: Massimo De Carlo, MMXX, Ncontemporary, Ribot and, a little further away, Gio Marconi, Raffaella Cortese, and Clima are all neighbors. And of course, also the Bar Basso.
What exhibition did you inaugurate the new space with?
With "A loro rischio e pericolo", a beautiful solo show by Alessandro Carano, the second by the artist in the gallery. The exhibition was scheduled for March and was postponed due to the lock-down. To celebrate the first two years of the gallery, Alessandro was without a doubt the right choice, since he is one of the central artists of the project. Alessadro's works, a new series of paintings called "Canvas Painting," sublimely beautiful, summarize his research and his concept of painting. We are very happy with how it is going and the excellent feedback we have received so far.
And what was the gallery's first exhibition?
It was "To die for", a group show curated by Athena Papadopoulos, which featured one of her works ("Smurfette, Tapped") along with works by Matt Copson, Neil Haas, and Will Sheridan Jr.
Who were the first artists to enter the program?
As I said, the first artists to enter the program were the same artists that I had brought to the gallery in Sao Paulo: Alessandro Carano, Thomaz Rosa, and Marcelo Cipis. They allowed me, with their support and trust, to believe in myself and in what we were building together, and to start my adventure in Milan. Over time, other key artists have been added to the gallery, like Marco Pio Mucci. Without them the gallery would not exist. They are the people I speak to and who I hope will stay with me for the entire time of this adventure.
I understand that you will soon be adding new artists to the gallery’s program.
The pause enabled me to do a lot of research and to work on the creation of a program with new material and new artists. Among the artists already confirmed are Rita Siegfried, Rosanna Bianchi Piccoli, and Flaminia Veronesi. I hope that other artists will be confirmed soon, but it is already a very rich and interesting program.
What is the common thread behind the gallery's research?
If I had to summarize, I would say that my choice depends on the artist rather than on the work. I hope to involve people who have qualities and skills that can create a mutually supportive network, where the conversation is always at a high level, and have a common goal that goes beyond the technical, personal, and character differences. With each of them I have embarked on a path that, with time and patience, will go a long way. Each artist in his own way shares with me the values that are evident in their work. So, we have the strength and energy to reach a common goal.
How do you feel about working online, and how is that changing with COVID-19?
It has not changed so much since COVID-19. Perhaps there has been a greater presence on social media like Instagram, but that has been part of the life of the gallery from the very beginning. During this time I have participated in online fairs and similar projects. I think that in the future they will become an increasingly significant method for communicating art, but it will be impossible to detach completely from the physical presence, from the desire to breathe and see art, especially when dealing with young presences like mine. The discovery has a value when it surprises you and you have to experience it for yourself. In general, however, I think that the web, in this historic moment, can be a very important added aspect, but only if the idea is to create useful content to anticipate the actual experience.
What does it mean to be "a young gallery" today?
The current situation can be a great opportunity for young people. Certainly having a light and dynamic structure allows us to adapt quickly to the uncertain reality in which we move. Moreover, given the uncertainty and the impossibility of traveling, many people are beginning to explore realities close to them that until now, for a multitude of reasons would not have been considered.
Also, the emerging reality imposes a sense of responsibility towards the place where you are, to try, through your proposal, to be a point of reference for the community, not only the solid and historical one, but also for that community of people who could potentially get involved in art, but have never found a point of reference from which they would undertake a journey together.
A young gallery like mine must be well aware that it is just beginning a very long journey which, as far as I'm concerned, is looking to make its way, big or small, in the history of art. I am fortunate to share this journey with all my travel companions, the artists. We are working as hard as possible to achieve this goal.
A person who influenced you in your training as a gallerist?
All the people I mentioned in this interview. They have all been fundamental in my professional training process and I am very grateful to them for that.
An artist from the past that you would take to Bar Basso?
With Schifano I would be happy to drink a couple of sbagliati!
Gallery website: castiglionifinearts.com