In an age with so many individuals moving to another country due to war and political turmoil, there are those who choose to leave their homeland for an equally important reason: to bring about a creative metamorphosis. The opportunity to shed one’s identity and take on a new one can bring endless growth as an artist. If, however, we know how to cope with the onslaught of change and how best to channel it into the work.
Tomaso Albertini, an Italian artist originally from Milan, offers us a glimpse into the challenges he faced after moving to New York. The transcontinental relocation brought on existential questions and a surprising new technique inspired by the terror of the Big Apple.
D/railed Mag: When did your foray into the world of contemporary art begin?
Tomaso Albertini: I began to paint around ten years ago after having finished three years at the “Scuola del fumetto” in Milan.
D/railed Mag: Why the move from Milan to New York? Were you lured by the ‘American Dream’ or was the decision driven by the need to find a proper channel for your art, which you could not find in Italy?
TA: It is undeniable that the opportunities in New York are incomparable to those found in Milan. Here I have found an artistic environment that is in constant evolution. In New York, it seems that anything is possible. In Italy, on the other hand, people are less likely to bet on young artists and to give them a chance.
D/railed Mag: Let’s analyze for a moment the psychological reasons for your move to America: was it a flight from your own culture and origins?
TA: It is not so easy to adjust to the hectic pace of life in New York and the first year here was really difficult. Finding your own identity in a city so varied and immense is also a challenge.
D/railed Mag: From figurative art to dark art to street art: how have you managed to differentiate yourself among these genres?
TA: The difference in style of my works of art is mainly due to the experiences that I confronted in the past two years. Upon my arrival in New York, I began to use a completely new technique and started working with cardboard. I have chosen this material because of its abundance in the streets of this city; my new geographical location has had an immediate influence on my art. The Lower East Side, where my studio is located, has shaped my work and is a neighborhood rich with street art. The artists who I have known, the galleries, the murals, have all influenced the evolution of my art.
D/railed Mag: Has your style evolved based on what the market dictates?
TA: The fact that I have created an innovative and unique technique has been a contributing factor in making me known in the immense world of contemporary art in New York, but this is not enough. One needs to consider all that matters in the artistic world in which one is a part. I think that it is also important to maintain your own identity.
D/railed Mag: How do you choose the subjects of your works and which materials to use now that you have asserted yourself in the New York, as compared to previous years?
TA: Regarding the subjects of my works, as well as the style, they have been influenced by the world that surrounds me. Apart from some works regarding the music world and commissions from clients, my latest works are all inspired by the artists to whom I am particularly connected and who have changed my perception of art. Before the subjects were more abstract and without definite faces or particular references. Now, beyond the use of more vivid colors, the characters are recognizable.
D/railed Mag: How important is it, the design, in the initial phase of the realization of a work, and how important is networking?
TA: Regarding the role of design in my creations, it is practically irrelevant since it is covered by the cardboard sculpture. Networking, instead, is fundamental in a city like New York with a constant evolution in subjects and contents.
D/railed Mag: Did you have to Americanize yourself to be part of the world of American art? What advice would you give to those who want to follow in your footsteps?
TA: I do not think I have been too Americanized. However, coming from another country, for an artist, plays a key role, but surely knowing how to deal with that is fundamental. I advise, first of all, to focus on work, not to be afraid, to take one step at a time, and to take advantage of every single possibility.
D/railed Mag: What did your identity metamorphosis bring about from a psychological and a stylistic point of view?
TA: After years of sacrifice and work, I can finally consider myself an artist.
Being able to do what you love for work, I think, is a great privilege today. The change of my style, however, has made me aware of my potential.
D/railed Mag: After having worked for several months with Con Artist Collective, you are now represented by an on-site gallery. Can you give us a sneak peek into your future exhibitions and collaborations?
TA: In just two years, having worked with Sotheby’s and being able to exhibit my work in galleries in New York, was incredible. Now I’ve just debuted my first solo show at 198 of Allen Street. Then, apart from commissioned work, I have a few projects underway.