Following a flash of pulse-quickening inspiration, it is said that 3rd Century BC mathematician, astronomer, physicist, engineer, and inventor Archimedes ran buck naked through the streets of Syracuse, Sicily while declaring “Eureka!” Contemporary historians suggest that the critically acclaimed Greek scholar – venerated for some of humanity’s greatest intellectual breakthroughs – earned a reputation as a birthday suit enthusiast simply due to colorful exaggeration. Many of us, however – including Giampiero Abate – can agree that emotions tend to run a bit rampant when we experience an epiphany.
Upon recognizing the vast creative potential of airbrushing, the Italian figurative painter admits that his own personal eureka moment for the art making tool was akin to “love at first sight”.
There should be no secrets in art! Sharing tips and skills with the art community helps the technical, stylistic and narrative progression of both the student and the art teacher to evolve.
Before the Internet age instantaneously satisfied our every curiosity, those seeking knowledge generally relied on the resources available at public libraries and bookstores. Giampiero Abate, who counts illustration as his first creative passion, was just 20 years of age when – while perusing various editorial, graphic-themed books – he realized that an airbrush could create so many “wonderful, sometimes magical paintings”. Still, the innate technicality of the tool – coupled with its high level of “before, during and after” maintenance – is famously off-putting.
Who really wants to deal with the hassle?!?! The artist further points out that “the airbrush is not instinctive”, requiring greater demands than some creatives are willing to commit to. In spite of those somewhat unappealing qualities, Giampiero was undeterred, finding the tool to be an ideal match for his inherently “analytical mentality”.
My art is the entrance door to a parallel unreal world. Perhaps it reflects my most rational part.
The Tuscany-based painter of hyper realistic yet decidedly surreal narratives ultimately developed what could be regarded as an addiction to the air-propelled painting instrument. Giampiero Abate praises the unique characteristics of his 11 airbrushes and 4 paint guns, each of which are his “favorite jewels”. In addition to each airbrush possessing distinctive capabilities that are on par with conventional paintbrushes, they are so appealing to him because they enable him to blend many gradations of color, delivering “something more” to his canvases. “Airbrushing”, as he sees it, “is the technique that belongs to me the most.”
Some of my paintings and their themes are – according to my wife – distressing and pessimistic, however in my daily life, I am volcanic, fun and reactive. Perhaps these are the mysteries of psychology.
“My art is the entrance door to a parallel unreal world,” Giampiero Abate shares. “Perhaps it reflects my most rational part.” In light of how many hoops the painter jumps through during his art making process, sanity and insanity apparently make strangely complementary bedfellows. Understandably, the artist’s complex artmaking process allows for little to no creative improvisation, yet his Dr. Victor von Frankenstein approach to designing his paintings is nonetheless quite impressive. His unique sci-fi aesthetic, which showcases his “unreal, otherworldly mannequins”, incorporates augmented reality, video rendering, 3D printing, and video mapping. He begins with old fashioned pencil sketches, followed by three-dimensional modeling (utilizing the free, user-friendly art creation software, Daz 3D).
When the details of his composition – including setting and illumination – are just right, he creates “the render and molds or projects it on paper”. He then transfers that image onto his canvas, making sure to 3D print airbrushing masks for flawless acrylic painting gradients. That’s of course when the fruits of the Italy-born artist’s creative labors finally come together, one finely dispersed acrylic layer at a time.
I am proud of my technical and expressive progression, from composition to aesthetics. I admit many mistakes, but also many improvements.
Giampiero Abate’s reliance on so many technology-based art-making tools helps him to deliver what he believes is a fully immersive experience to the beholder, one that engages their “eyes and ears”, even bringing “spatial orientation” front and center. Noting the marked difference between wearing 3D glasses while viewing James Cameron’s Avatar or deciding against them, he explains that our comprehension of the film may not change but the movie goer’s experience is certainly altered. He further clarifies that when an artist goes the extra mile during their ideation and execution stages, they can potentially manifest groundbreaking elements. “The inner complexities of the work,” he says, “end up enhancing the viewer’s perceptions and emotions.”
I think one’s passion for art is a personal attitude.
The science and technology enthusiast’s fine art paintings – which could easily be described as “dystopian future visions” – speak to his early dreams of becoming an astronaut as well as his affection for “Star Trek, Isaac Asimov’s stories and sci-fi illustrations from the 90s onwards”. As such, his narratives – generally taking place in parallel universes – revolve around topics such as humanity versus nature, philosophy, cosmology, and quantum physics. The self-taught artist’s study of divinities, for example, launched him down a road of “worldly and otherworldly” contemplation which resulted in the development of his signature humanoids with white eyes, which have since become a compelling narrative device enabling him to contrast “the realism of their physical forms with various impossible/non-terrestrial elements”.
To ensure that his artistic concepts remain fresh and original, Giampiero Abate dives headfirst into research, indulging in a “maximum amount of curiosity”. Podcasts provide him with particularly rich source material, oftentimes the exploration of a single intriguing term leading him to creative nirvana. Ditto for YouTube videos and the “3000 browser tabs” that he ends up opening on his computer. Have you ever stumbled upon Giorgio Parisi’s sentiment about ideas being like a boomerang that launches in one direction before ultimately ending up in an entirely different place? That is perfectly reflective of Giampiero’s open-minded approach to creative inspiration and its exciting possibilities. When asked if he maintains an idea journal, the artist responds with a wink, “My diary is in my mind.”
Illustration was my first passion. I was fascinated by the narrative ability of the images and the way in which strong emotions can be triggered and the ability to involve the reader.
The figurative artist’s deep-seated fascination with drawing and painting began in childhood, and though he would have happily pursued art making as a formal career, creative disciplines – at least in Italy – weren’t perceived in his earlier days as being stable or serious. That is what prompted him to spend twenty five years as a police officer, carving out time in the evenings and weekends to nurture his ever-evolving art skills. Giampiero Abate, who says he now lives and breathes art, made the decision just five years ago to pursue painting on a full-time basis, partially due to his faith in “the expressive potential of my works”.
Additionally, since he is such a firm believer in freely exchanging ideas and insights with other creatives, he continues to publish myriad art tutorials on his YouTube channel and has also “organized/taught acrylic paint-based airbrushing lessons via the Arts in Rome Association”. He believes that “it is critical” to share the gift of creativity with others, proclaiming, “There should be no secrets in art! Sharing tips and skills with the art community helps the technical, stylistic and narrative progression of both the student and the art teacher to evolve.”
Airbrushing is the technique that belongs to me the most.
As Beautiful Bizarre has addressed myriad times in our profiles of emerging contemporary artists, there comes a time in everyone’s life when the muse must be answered on a far more permanent basis. Our tomorrows are not promised to us, which is why we must truly look to this day, for it is life…the very life of life.
In that spirit, Giampiero Abate urges you to allow these eight words to sink into your subconscious: “It’s never too late to become an artist.” If all of these years later, you are still daydreaming about trying your hand at a creative profession that others insisted was utterly impractical, remind yourself that you deserve the experience of creative fulfillment while you are still amid this mortal plane of existence. Please repeat Giampiero’s words, this time as if your life depends on it (since it’s quite possible that it really does): “It’s never too late to become an artist.”