With many years of experience as a multi-media artist, Italian native Andrea Tavolaro has captured the eyes of many. This multi-talented artist has had illustrations published in magazines like FEFE’, an animated short film CATFISHHH ranked as a finalist at the Young Illustrators Award 2010 and was chosen by Universal Italia to launch Shane Acker's movie 9 on My Movies Italia. Tavolaro was even an art therapist and co-organizer for PAINT NOW! in 2016 to help people in the refugee camps in Berlin. Now based in Berlin, Tavolaro's skills have led to his latest accomplishment of being chosen as the Selected Artist for THE HAUS. Talenthouse partnered with graffiti mural art group, XI-Design, to launch a Creative Invite and give artists the opportunity to create room installation ideas for an art project called, "THE HAUS - Berlin Art Bang." An old former bank was turned into a hub of creativity, expression and Tavolaro got to make his idea a reality for hundreds to see and experience at the event. Check out this exclusive interview with the multi-talented artist and pictures of his installation named, “Please Do Touch.”
TH: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What do you do?
AT: I studied philosophy and literature in Bari, then Illustration and Multimedia Animation in Rome. I like to juggle between different kinds of media, from the vectorial illustration to the traditional engraving on wood to sculpture. I prefer to get out of my comfort-zone and experiment new ways of expressing myself, especially when that’s functional to convey a concept in the best way possible. In the last years, my interest shifted from the pure introspection to the research for a social impact of my work. That’s the reason why I worked a lot last year in many art projects involving refugees as art therapist and event organizer. And this is also the reason why I’m choosing art projects like this one I did for THE HAUS, which bear my socio-political point of view.
TH: How did you get into digital art?
AT: Having studied at the IED European Institute of Design it was a huge part of my formation as an illustrator. And I still carry the fascination for the perfect combination between analogic and digital. I think one completes the other. Where the analogic brings the truth of the unexpected, irreparable mistake, which will probably be the best part of the whole picture, the digital, the way I use it at least, brings the aseptic distance and clearness of shapes and textures, not mentioning the very democratic quality of reproducibility.
TH: How did you come up with your concept for “Please Do Touch”?
AT: I think the idea of my installation comes from an urge of communicating on a broad scale and with a universal language my perception about societal idiosyncrasies and misconceptions, the overlooked inclination of our age to violence - the physical as well as the verbal one - and even the distance between art and people, for which probably the art scene is mostly responsible. Therefore I thought that a place like THE HAUS could be the perfect setting for the experiment of connecting people with an unusual way of experiencing the art-piece by interacting with it, indeed “Please do touch.” I could have let people interact with other kinds of objects but I chose human sculptures because I wanted to express an identity between the life of an art piece and the life of a human being. Moreover this way I had the chance to observe how people behave when they get the “freedom” to destroy not only an art piece, but one that represents a person: which sculpture will get the first hit? what’s the reaction of the audience who is passively participating to the experiment? Last but not the least, having people both as subjects of my observation and as models of my sculptures I got the chance to put together different shades of humanity, usually separated by different gender, age, color, sexuality, social status etc. under the same materials, same neutral color, same concept. I believe that the categories we identify with as people are exactly what draw us apart and yet it’s our own weaknesses that reveal our true nature. As I wrote on the paper I posted on the wall of my room at THE HAUS, “we are art pieces united in the fragility of being human”.
TH: How long did it take you to make the sand sculptures & what materials did you use?
AT: I had three weeks untill the opening of the exhibition and I used all of them! When I submitted my concept for the open call I didn’t really have the time to precisely figure out the materials I’d need, and soon enough I realized that sand wouldn’t fit the purpose of building full figures of people, stable and strong enough to stand on their thin ankles and yet fragile enough that anyone could break them with their own hands. So I started by experimenting different kinds of materials during the first week, ending up with working the two weeks after that on sculptures made of plaster in different forms and density, from powder on the inside to a plaster shell on the outside which would start cracking at the first heavier touch.
TH: Can you tell us a bit about your experience at “The Haus – Berlin Art Bang” event?
AT: It was great, I still can’t believe how did the Dixons made it; to put together so many talented artists and organize such a huge and successful event! I find it absolutely impressive. I also appreciated so much that there was a special pre-opening only for the artists who took part to the project. THE HAUS itself is a beautiful concept, I love that it once was a bank, it sounds to me like a positive evolution in the history of the building, even if only for some months before getting demolished; I find it very representative of a diatribe that’s happening these years between the so called gentrification and the locals over the soul of Berlin. I felt very honored and excited of having the chance to exhibit next to so many talented artists and it was also incredible, it still is, to see such a huge crowd outside the gallery just waiting to get in, even on week days! I also enjoyed explaining the concept of my installation directly to the visitors of the room during the guided tours all the times that I passed by.
TH: Did you have a favorite art installation that you saw at the event?
AT: There were so many amazing rooms! The forest painted with beautiful fluorescent doodles, also the dark room by Ria Wank with black drapes hanging from the ceiling was another super fun experience. The ones I personally loved the most though were the rooms that opened a dialogue about the reality we live in by offering a critical view on it, like the room with the guy sitting in the darkness, illuminated only by the light of his smartphone, or the virtual reality room by the International Justice Mission, which by recreating the setting of a young girl’s room in India denounces the real issue in modern times of young girls getting kidnapped and sold in the market of prostitution, an issue I also have at heart and for which I collaborated with the Indian artist Leena Kejriwal some months ago.
TH: Do you have any projects you are currently working on, or planning on doing?
AT: Currently I’m working on minimal artworks on the gender topic, some of which were just selected by the itinerant art exhibition INLAND#2:Neither and are travelling Europe in different art galleries. I also have many ideas for new installations to keep open the discussion I just started with my room at THE HAUS.
TH: If you could have an hour to talk with anyone from the past, who would that be?
AT: Considering that Adolf Hitler applied to an art school before becoming the name and the face of one of the worst chapters in history, I guess I’d like to investigate with him the connection between ego and creativity.
TH: Favorite artist of all time?
AT: Really hard question. Caravaggio is definitely a possible answer.