Interview with multidisciplinary artist Daniel Gianfranceschi

HAZE.GALLERY : Please tell us your artistic vita in a few sentences.


Daniel Gianfranceschi: I work across many different mediums. Painting, sculpture, sound, and writing are probably some I might forget. I view it as a gift and curse because you will, essentially, never be satisfied but that’s precisely why you keep going, I guess. I have recently been thinking about what it actually means to “be an artist” and I think my answer would be to view everything as enveloping, as a holistic experience where art and life aren’t that much different, but that is just guessing. Furthermore, I enjoy collaborating with the people I hold dearest, like Atelier Skinnosh or Maison Rose, to name the most notable ones.


HG: How would you describe your creative process?


Very varied and deeply personal. Sometimes, when describing what I do or a particular work, it almost feels like you are letting somebody in on a profoundly intimate feeling without actually really describing it, as you often speak in metaphors when talking about art. Yet, it’s really the only thing that truly makes any sense to me (art), as paradoxical as that may sound. Every work starts with a specific emotion I am trying to hold onto. The work then is really only an attempted manifestation of that feeling. Of a certain silence, a certain calmness I wish my works to exude. To really achieve what I may seem to be trying means to feel a transcendent connection to each work, yet, simultaneously, the work needs to be as good as to stand the test of time on its own. Many references of mine come not only from the obvious art history context but also from literature, music, film, nature, and theorists but those incipits have to always be congruent to what is happening inside of me, in the most personal of spaces.\


HG: How does the concept of "less is more" influence your creative process when working across various disciplines?


Before responding I have to address something: I feel like the slogan “less is more” has gotten a bad reputation in the past years for it being more of a statement of admission than an actual goal to achieve, which is very unfortunate because that phrase can actually, if you let it, mean a great deal to some. 


I personally found that the more I minimize the composition, the more potent the actual result is, emotionally speaking. The less I try hard to make something work, the more natural it actually comes. I really do feel a certain weight on the upper part of my chest when I realize that I am trying too hard or too much to make something work and then I really have to, physically and mentally, take some steps and recenter myself. Also, I’ve been approaching certain work series like the “Tree branch Paintings” (wherein I will lay some branches I find outside of my studio atop the canvas and, with ink and a brush, move them around the canvas) and the “Lines For A Love So Infinite” (a series of drawings consisting of various lines and dots of interchangeable sizes and lengths) in a way that leaves a lot of room for a certain automatism that is greater than myself and my own actual being, as to, eventually, really do less and let the cosmic powers of intuition take the hand. I really do believe strongly in the concept of intuition and feel deeply connected to it.


When writing it’s a little bit more complex of an issue because when working with language you have to be very precise and know what you want to get at. Yet, I am realizing that what I enjoy most is focusing on seemingly meaningless streams of consciousness and ideas, like where the saying “cats have nine lives” and why exactly nine and not ten, come from and really try to analyze those questions to the fullest of my capabilities. So, perhaps “less is more” refers more to the seemingly “less” interesting ideas that are then expanded upon, creating the “more”. Who knows.





HG: In your opinion, how does minimalism enhance the viewer's ability to connect with your multidisciplinary work on a deeper level?


I think my work can be whatever the viewer wishes it to be, foregoing the usual separation into categories and genres that I really dislike. I get the need for a vocabulary that describes certain auteurs working alike but I find that terminology more restricting than uplifting. I do not wish for my work to be classified as “minimalism”, nor do I have a better wording for it so perhaps it’s a little hypocritical of me to dismiss these currents. What actually touches me the most is when somebody is able to see themselves in the work and by that point there shall be no need to categorize anything because the aesthetical and emotional connection will already have been established. Also, I really do not perceive my work as “minimal” because, if we look at pioneers of Minimal Art like Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, etc. back in the early 1960s, their whole point was for art to “be what you see”, industrialized, removed from most (if not all) emotion. My work is factually the complete opposite of the removal of emotions – it’s a safe space for emotions to be nurtured and felt.


HG: Minimalism often encourages the removal of non-essential elements. How do you decide what is essential to convey your artistic message?


I actually think that everything that is necessary is already happening on the canvas. Everything is as it should be. In this sense, the only thing I think I actively have tried to forego is figuration. I need to, for my own sanity, dig deeper into what makes us humans, and abstraction has, to me, always been more powerful, emotionally speaking, in my own practice. Like I said before, trying too hard is the real enemy in my case (laughs), so I perhaps have come to realize that the removal of myself is necessary to actually deal with certain emotions and particular compositions. Imperfections are actually more than welcome, just as they are in nature, and so I never really try to erase anything. It seems disingenuous. A minus way of thinking. 


HG: Minimalism often involves restraint in color palette or form. How do you use these constraints to your advantage in your multidisciplinary art, and what creative freedoms do they offer?


Good question. My interest in color in my own wardrobe, for example, has long sailed away (laughs). In painting, I think, I found that color offers a specific sensory connotation that I just prefer not to have in my work. I prefer emotions to do the talking. That being said, I have been thinking about color and space and shapes and how certain colors can and do enhance certain shapes. Think of Rothko. Selfishly speaking, I have never really liked super bright colors, so I guess that the monochrome found me instead of vice versa. Also, to me using a minimal array of colors actually isn’t a restraint: I view it as gratifyingly liberating to be able to tell my story by, essentially and factually, using less. There are an infinite number of compositional possibilities to still be explored a lifetime would not be enough to actually see them all come to fruition (laughs). 



HG: What is your favorite museum or art gallery and why?


Oh, I love this question. I think my favorite museum might be the MART (Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto). Designed by Mario Botta, the museum itself is, architecturally speaking, incredible. They have a great collection, interesting temporary shows, and own one of my all-time favorite sculptures, which is the “Testa di Mussolini” by Renato Bertelli - too bad it is a depiction of a total shithead who I definitely do not endorse, just for the record. Furthermore, I have great memories of all the various visits with my father, supposedly even when I was younger. Plus the restaurant has a great Sachertorte (laughs). Also, I love the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich because of its unique structure and collection.


HG: What’s next for you?


I’m always trying to show the work in a new setting and give it new meaning. Furthermore, I founded the online blog Subject Change where we try to release an essay/think piece/interview once a week. I will attend the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich starting this October for which I feel very honored and grateful and I am excited to see how that will, potentially, affect my work. Other than that, hopefully, a good amount of silence. 



Follow Daniel on his Instagram