nerosunero in conversation with Sarah Beerbohm
It is so and yet or perhaps even so! nerousnero.
SARAH BEERBOHM: What does creating images mean to you behind the obvious pleasure that the entire process seems to imply?
NEROSUNERO: Creating images is basically an attempt to maintain my point of view on the surrounding world. It is not easy: you have to be able to see with your own eyes (is that possible?) and then to be able to represent what you see.
SB: Now when we talk about images and creating images we must perhaps make some clarifications. Can you offer us some?
NN: Basically there are two separate groups of images: the pre-existing images in nature and those we create (or recreate). In the first group (that of pre-existing images) are the images through which the real world (the visible world) reveals itself and is manifested. In the second group are the man-made images of the world, mostly in the form of drawings and paintings. It should also be said that the images of this second group are, to a great extent, our consciousness of the visible world, and that without them (and without an archive of them) the visible world would not have a history or a past.
SB: So, on one side we have the world revealing itself through its images and on the other we have those man-made images which (since they existed on some form of material: paper, canvas, board etc) when preserved might stand forever for our perception and therefore consciousness of the entire visible world. Is that what you mean?
NN: This is exactly what I mean.
SB: Beyond telling us how different cultures and civilizations (for example the Egyptian one) perceive and see the visible world, is there something else there that those man-made images are telling us?
NN: Great painters & sculptors through their created-images (their big effort to see) taught and teach us how to see the visible world. Without their work (their art) we would not be able to see anything or at least we would see very differently.
When we see a woman bending towards her child with a careful gesture and some mysterious delicate smile, we see her as a Madonna because we have seen her first in a Giotto painting. Or when we see a fragile, solid wooden chair with a simple seat of woven straw, we recognise it at once as a chair from the French countryside because we have seen it in one or other of Van Gogh’s paintings. That is what artists tell and teach us: how to see the world. And that is what I meant when saying that by drawing and painting (creating images) it is always also an attempt to express one point of view.
SB: Now you just mentioned that the man-made images reflect how we perceive the reality standing in front of us rather than the reality itself …
NN: Our world manifests itself in its eternal ‘becoming’, so its image keeps changing constantly in front of us, as does our perception of it (it is enough to change the angle at which we view something, to see and perceive it as completely different after all). On the other side the images we create – our lasting images – are made on a fixed surface (paper, canvas, board etc) so in order to keep pace with a world that keeps changing, painters have to make pictures all their lives. And that is what painters do.
SB: You said before that images belong to two kinds of separate groups. Is this always the case?
NN: The two separate groups always exist, however at some stage, images created by man end up being assimilated to those of the first group as well and destined to share their same fate. Like all the pre-existing images these too begin to change over time, the page over the years turns yellow and the ink inevitably fades. And then their meaning too will start to change.
SB: Their meaning?
NN: Yes because apparently even when the painter who designed them or the photographer who photographed them has done everything not to impart them with any meaning, an image will always in the end be seen as a container of something else hidden inside it. That is the destiny of every image, that is the biggest curse of every image and its biggest mystery as well.
SB: I noticed you mentioned here the photographers alongside the painters in the range of those who create images. Fair enough… At last!
NN: Painters and photographers are both creators of images. Representational painters and photographers are almost competitors indeed.
The main difference between painter and photographer is the medium they use. The camera has some embedded mechanism that limits the freedom of the photographer: the lens restricts the specific angle to a square or a rectangle, and the resulting view of a photograph is always the perspective view, whereas the view of the painter does not have those limitations.
SB: So, okay for photographers and representational painters, but what about writers, poets, philosophers and those who narrate the world through writing and not only through images? NN: The difference this time is not in the medium only, but in the object of their interest. The poet, the philosopher, the novelist and also the so-called "conceptual artist" deal mostly and precisely with the reality to be discovered behind the image that conceals it (for these the image is like a veil or, to return to what I said before, a container of something else hidden inside). The painter, photographer and sculptor, on the other hand, is not worried about what is hidden behind. They deal only with the image (its colours, shapes, and lights) that is to the fore and before us and which can only be captured by reimagining it continuously, nothing more, nothing less.
nerosunero in conversation with Sarah Beerbohm
nerosunero, Different Images (Blurb Books, Dublin 2020)
Language: Italian & English / ISBN: 978-0-9550327-4-5
Dublin April 2020
Purchase Different Images on Blurb