Stefano Rauzi is a young Italian painter, whose work touches on dark notes of the human spirit, in paradoxically vibrant chromatic tones. In his paintings and drawings, Rauzi addresses themes like violence, self-destruction, and the unknown of the human mind, all in a ludic style, which he developed as a child, and maintained throughout the years.

In studio with Stefano Rauzi. Portrait by Giovanni Corabi.

In studio with Stefano Rauzi. Portrait by Giovanni Corabi.

The honesty of this playful aesthetics is kept in his work with collage, a technique which allows him to explore vast frames of meaning, beyond the fragmentary nature of this method. His collages threaten to interrupt organic narratives of the world and of history, to challenge expectations, in ironic encounters between the immediacy of instinctive, primitive sketch and the realism of appropriated image.

Stefano talks about his art with candour and a particular kind of joy. He speaks about his intentions and choices, but allows his works to tell their own innocent, occasionally pessimistic, but always sincere stories.

From the series Studio Sull'Interazione Sociale (Social Interaction Study), 2016.

From the series Studio Sull'Interazione Sociale (Social Interaction Study), 2016.

Elena Stanciu: Please tell me a little about yourself and your process? When did you start working? Where do you look for inspiration?

Stefano Rauzi: My name is Stefano, I’m 25, and I´m an Italian painter. The first time I felt fascinated by art was in primary school; in my home town I found a wall full of graffiti, with one particular figure – a fat unicorn. This was such a free-spirited and unique piece, and made me realize that through drawing and painting I could express even my most unconventional thoughts in a natural and spontaneous way. In high-school, I was already painting on canvas and wood, it was mostly instinctive, without any proper research.

For inspiration - I observe, I look around. Apart from that, books always gave me good ideas, as well as people, their behaviour and ego, which creates a never-ending show of human nature in society.

ES: I am deeply touched by one of your series - Studio delle bestie (Study on Beasts). What inspired you for this series? Who are the 'beasts'?

SR: I borrow a lot from sociology, psychology and anthropology, and the main idea was to graphically describe the relationship between a man and himself. This relationship conditions the exterior and consequently the interior. I attempted to give shape to conflicts each of us have inside, and beasts came out.

From the series Studio delle bestie (Study on Beasts), 2014.

From the series Studio delle bestie (Study on Beasts), 2014.

ES: In Studio sulla violenza (Study on Violence) you address themes relating to dark sides of humanity. How do those violent, dark, murderous scenes go together with the vibrant, lively colour palette you use? Why did you create this contrast?

SR: Violence has always fascinated me; it is a sort of atavism, which binds us to all the other creatures without a neocortex. I like to explore visually the animal in all of us. The lively colours refer, I would say, to that pseudo-sense of poetry and almost romance that the subject, no matter how dark, gains through its representations.

Violence and abuse are part of life, and have been for quite a long time. I once wondered what was the first act of violence in human history; that's what inspired The Birth of Violence.

From the series Studio sulla violenza (Study on Violence), 2014.

From the series Studio sulla violenza (Study on Violence), 2014.

ES: I see you also work with collage. What drove you to this practice?

SR: To be honest I think I made the first collage on a day I had no clean brushes and no will to clean them. The technique gives me so many possibilities to represent the complexity of all dimensions of man: memory, mind, instinct, relations, encounters and so on.

I compare the collage to a city - made up by many different elements, but in the end, the city is more than the sum of all these elements. So is the collage.

Untitled, 2013.

Untitled2013.

ES: Tell me a little about your Autoritratti. What do you find interesting in self-portraits? Are you exploring yourself, or the way people look at you?

SR: Of course I’m exploring myself, not really how others see me. I call them self-portraits because I live it in first person, but I created them as experiences common to us all; in one piece, for example, a man is staring at his reflection in the mirror and his reflection stabs him - who never felt that way?

From the series Autoritratti, 2013.

From the series Autoritratti, 2013.

ES: I see you use the human figure a lot – often malformed, suffering some sort of aggression, grotesque. Is this an affirmation of a particular take on humanity and the figure of man in contemporaneity?

SR: Body language and deformation are as powerful as facial expressions – they define an imperfect man, assert a unique beauty. All the malformations and grotesque details are metaphors for how people behave, not really for who they are. I think these particular kinds of malformations are perfect for describing contemporary society. People have artificial needs and emotions, which lead to discomfort and unnatural behaviour. These processes are so complex, and worth looking at.

Untitled, 2012.

Untitled, 2012.

ES: Photographer Giovanni Corabi introduced you to us, through one of his portraits. What's your relationship with him? And speaking of portraits - what artist would you have painting your portrait?

SR: Giovanni and I have known each other since we were kids, and we still enjoy each other's company. This portrait was taken during his last visit to my studio. He's very talented, and I´m sure we'll work together in the future.

Stefano Rauzi, photo by Giovanni Corabi.

Stefano Rauzi, photo by Giovanni Corabi.

As for an artist painting my portrait - definitely Goya, I would love to have my portrait painted in one of his early works; between the elegant ladies of the 18th century holding umbrellas against the sun.

Words: Elena Stanciu

Artwork: Stefano Rauzi

Photography: Giovanni Corabi