Kleber Cianni is a Brazilian/Italian artist. Citizen of the world, he lived in many places like Bali, California, Hawaii, Australia, Berlin, but always close to the sea and good surfing waves. He has a studio in Florianópolis, Brazil, where he spends a few months a year. In a conversation with PURPLEHAZE magazine, Kleber commented on the theme of the present issue (remember it sounds like Genderless), the most interesting characters in his works, and the purpose of proceeding with one’s artistic path, despite all the difficulties in life.
Dear Kleber, welcome to PURPLEHAZE Magazine! And thank you for making time for this interview. Now please tell us a few words about yourself.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to contribute to this issue while discussing people who consider themselves genderless. I find it an extremely important topic! So yes, first of all, my name is Kleber Cianni. I’m a Brazilian/Italian artist and now I’m based in Berlin. I also spend three months a year in my studio in Florianópolis, Brazil.
How do you understand the concept of being ‘genderless’?
Life is movement, everything in the universe is infinitely transforming, evolving, and changing. That's why I live my life surfing the energy of the moment and accepting any change with love and gratitude. I believe that sexuality isn’t something fixed, but rather free and floating. I enjoy living free of labels that might suggest to others what I am.
What gender do you consider yourself to be? At what age did you realize who you are or did you never have any doubts about that?
My name is Kleber, however, Kleber is just a name chosen by my mother, it doesn't define my identity. Neither my gender suggests what I am. What we are concerns our souls, our spirituality, energy, love and all the universal existence. So I still don't know what I am, and, honestly, I don't care about it. I think I'm the universe experiencing itself in a carnal body.
Today, more and more people are coming out, talking about their gender identity, although they remained silent on this topic before. What do you think is the reason for that? Should people speak openly about their gender or would they better wait for the right time?
I think we’re witnessing a magic time for the planet now. Moments of chaos always bring a lot of opportunity for spiritual growth. I find it wonderful to see more people understanding that we're unique beings in the universe and for that reason we're wonderfully beautiful and incredible. It's our super power, our true essence. My advice is to embrace your uniqueness.
How did art come into your life? At what point did you realize your aspiration to become an artist?
I remember myself always being restless, both physically and mentally. I was a happy and vigorous child, hanging around in the streets with my friends all the time, playing life.
I grew up without a father, which caused me self-esteem issues among other problems. At school I would never fit in, I just couldn’t understand the educational system that focused on competition, segregation and took care of numbers more than individuals. I saw it as a sick system, a killer of my dreams. For all that and more, I failed every grade during my high school and dropped out of school at 17 because I couldn't live with the system anymore, which regularly reminded me, how stupid, incompetent, and unsuccessful I was.
My wonderful mother, also a good friend of mine, always felt like I was close to art, so she bought me a box of crayons, when I was 10 years old. From that day on, I painted non-stop, everyday everywhere. Wherever I went, I would always have a box of crayons under my arm. During the school breaks my friends called me to play football, and I replied very proudly: “I'm painting, I'm going to be an artist”.
Unfortunately, Brazil is a country that doesn’t recognize the importance of its painters. It’s quite common to hear things like, you’re vagabond, crazy, drugged or faggot, when you introduce yourself as an artist. That’s why I ran away from the artistic essence of mine for a few years, completely out of fear. However, I kept on painting, especially in difficult moments in my life such as the suicide of my beloved brother Matheus.
Art has always been and will be my refuge, my safe haven. A place without time, loose in space where I make peace with my inner child.
There are various characters in your works. Tell us a little about them. How did you come up with those characters?
While creating, I see myself in a magical and intense space. I become a channel in the universe and feel everything in it within me.
Sometimes I feel like I'm a photographer, taking pictures in another dimension. So somehow, my paintings are actually the photographs of multidimensional beings connected to me through my art.
There is a lot of synchronicity in my artworks, most of the time, when I start to paint, I still don't know what I'm going to do. It’s like returning the soul of the work to the canvas; when it's done, I finally understand what I’ve painted.
Sometimes I feel like I've visited the future and painted someone from it. In a few days, months or even years I meet someone new in my life and realize it was his/her image I tried to capture then.
Please describe your painting manner.
I wouldn’t like to give any clear definition to my manner in painting. I just enjoy feeling free in art, creating my life along the way.
Some of the characters in your works have a pronounced sex appeal in their apperance. Do you consider them to be of a specific gender?
In my art you can encounter characters of any gender, transgenders as well — they appear in some of my works.
Do you take public view into consideration? Whose opinion/advice do you most willingly listen to?
I would say, that’s not important at all. I’ve always lived my life the way I believed I should. It’s my own opinion that really matters to me.
Is there any message in your works? What thoughts should they evoke in the viewer’s mind?
I enjoy engaging in dialogue with the viewer. My art tells all its most intimate secrets to those who’s able to see them, that’s important to me.
Text by Lyubov Melnickowa