Cristian: Dear Giuseppe, let’s talk about Becco d’Aquila, your masterpiece about Antonio Ligabue. Antonio Ligabue was a mysterious as well as contested, controversial character. His madness, as result of his troubled life, brought him to put in practice several weird behaviours. At the same time, his sound sensitivity and his capacity to draw in a very special manner made him a reference point for Naive Art. And Naive Art is often confused with children’s way of drawing, isn’t it? Why did you choose to work on Antonio Ligabue in a series of books for Children?

Giuseppe: Of course, Naive art is often confused with children’s drawings. Drawing is a universal language, it should be for everyone and categorizing it is dangerous. What they call Naive art has given legitimacy to many people to express themselves outside of the “manners”, techniques and schools of art. It is “expression” outside the box, it is also beautiful to me for the fact of being uncomfortable. I chose to work on Antonio by proximity, each of us can identify himself with a piece of him, we fall in love by proximity and I found an immediate empathy in his condition as a man. His tragedy does not reflect my life but the human condition. Taking a step towards him is taking a step towards ourselves and towards what we consider different from ourselves. I decided to tell it to childhood because I was sure that its expressiveness was immediate to the world of children, no translations needed, it was only to be drawn, and i drew it down. Antonio communicates directly without filters of adulthood or social superstructure. I also chose it because looking at his works and reading about him gave me courage. None of us is a tiger.

Cristian: Let’s enter in your field of activity. Ligabue often used to draw animals. It was his first and foremost interest, at least in drawing and painting. What is your approach to drawing animals? Can you share advice and strategies with children and adults willing to draw animals?

Giuseppe: When they ask me to draw an animal that I’ve never seen or drew I refuse, for me it’s presumptuous to think of drawing by heart. So I draw a lot of animals, I have dedicated sketchbooks specifically for them. As Antonio do not humanize animals, I try to draw them for what they are unless they are fantastic characters or jokes. To draw the animals, I would suggest to everyone to look carefully at their boundaries, the contours and their movements. I would draw them quickly as they move, try on trial. Perhaps it would be useful to feel like that animal, to become even for a moment the animal, to make the cry of that animal. Just like Ligabue. I swear that it really helps.

Cristian: My last question is probably trivial and not original. But I think it is at the foundation of this opera. Madness and creativity? What is your opinion about this relationship? And what about Giuseppe’s madness and creativity?

Giuseppe: The madness for what i know about it is fundamental in the creative process, if you think of it not as a factor of clinical disease but as way out of the borders, away from the norm, so you go further and you become something foreign, you understand what is different and far from you. The creative process can be alienating and therefore sometimes insulating, but I do not believe that a creative person must necessarily be crazy or weird. We commonly consider insane the one who sees what others do not see and hears what others are struggling to feel, which sometimes has behaviors out of the norm. Then what is the norm? What is madness in the creative world? Perhaps this term is abused and used to generate an aura of mystery. Insanity is serious, both clinical and creative.

Cristian: Thanks a lot.


Via Bellini, 7, 42016 Guastalla, Reggio nell’Emilia – Italy

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