In our article last year, I delved into the colourful history of Italian artist Antonio Del Prete. From his classical Naples roots to travelling around the world, Antonio is a prime example of learning from the world around him. Absorbing a multitude of cultural and experimental concepts, he flows it out in a flurry of diverse, yet personal, series. Each becomes a chapter within his visual diary, and through this one can follow his ongoing voyage as an artist. Undeniably, Antonio is an artist who is always looking for the next idea – every boundary is there to be pushed.
This journey of self-discovery has led him to his most recent series: Masters Remixed. The series has been building over the last decade, bringing his ideas full circle. Perhaps most importantly, the concept took root in the Baroque and Rococo art which swathed his childhood in Italy. “It’s all around you.” Antonio explains. “It’s part of my culture. Churches, buildings, houses, furniture and so on. I think it was always in me somewhere and had to come out… at the right time.”
It was 2010 when Antonio decided to go back to classical art. Continuing his journey as a self-taught painter, it took hours of trial and error to hone the fundamentals and subtle nuances of the classical Masters. Not surprisingly, however, his natural flair ensured each artwork had that Del Prete twist. Interestingly though, it wasn’t until he participated in a group exhibition that Antonio realised he was on to something special. His early Masters Remixed works sold out, leaving him with a drive to continue exploring this new artistic pathway.
Paintings come to life
One of the distinctive concepts in Antonio Del Prete’s Masters Remixed series is the three-dimensional element infused into his paintings. They are, in fact, mixed media artworks in a broader sense of the word. Not only does he use acrylics and oil paints, he has learned how to add an array of real jewels. This is no small feat. 24 karat gold leaf, pearls, and Swarovski crystals shimmer in the light amidst painted drapes of luxurious clothing and deeply rich colours. It is a perfect fit for the characters he brings to life on the canvas, further elevating their mesmerising opulence.
A childhood of Haute Couture
Perhaps most endearing, however, is Antonio’s story which led him to start using such materials. It seems that this artist’s life has always been one imbuing culture and beauty. With that in mind, it’s not surprising, really, to see how Antonio’s latest series encapsulates these elements. After all, often artworks speak to us most when they come from the heart, allowing the artist to share a little piece of themselves in some way.
My mother specialized in Haute Couture dresses and the jewellery applications where all sown by hand. She created the most amazing pieces. I was mesmerized as kid to see such a beautiful dress with this remarkable jewellery on it. When women would come in my mother’s atelier to see their dress, they would be crying with joy, awestruck at the sight of those dresses.
I can’t ever forget that, and I learned from young age how (some) women express how they feel about certain things. When I finished a painting, I always thought that something was missing. And so, I thought: why don’t you add a pearl necklace or earrings? And now I have become like a jewellery maker in work!
The age of social media
While social media has been a Godsend for many artists to reach wider audiences, especially during these pandemic months, one can never fully absorb an artwork through a screen. However, Antonio Del Prete has utilised social media to his advantage. Providing close up images highlighting the ever-important details, he also spends time getting to know his admirers. “To be honest, it’s much easier to sell art and have that direct contact with new clients.” He muses. And with clients including Johnny Deep, Fergie, Quincy Jones and Nikki Sixx, Antonio is reaching a lot of prevalent circles.
Overall, Antonio Del Prete’s artworks celebrate a love for beauty. While some may find this shallow, his treatment of the topic is met with gentle adoration, rather than the impulse to create pretty things for pretty things’ sake. It is genuine. “Is there anything in this world more beautiful than the beauty and the grace of a woman to be immortalized in a painting?” Antonio asks me. “I grew up surrounded by women because of the work of my mother. And as a father, I have a daughter. I don’t know any better, I guess. Of course, we need more beauty.
Beauty is part of our life; we can’t live without beauty. We need to see and find beauty in everything. In what we do, what we see, what we eat, what we love. Especially in what we create.
Perhaps we can all do with a little more beauty in our lives. And Antonio’s paintings are the perfect place to start.