Marco Battaglini is a contemporary Italian artist working in Costa Rica. In his work he mixes sacred with profane, trying to mediate between the ideals of classical beauty and the ‘anti-aesthetic’ of street art. His latest project entitled VENUS VICTRIX HODIE presents a contemporary Venus Kylie Jenner and invites us to reflect on the contemporary canons of beauty and how they shape society. DailyArt Magazine has managed to reach him to ask a few questions about his art.
Why ‘Venus’? Don’t you think that it’s a little obsolete in 2021 when MeToo and body positivity movements are fighting against such standards of beauty?
As you know, my art has important classical references which I then combine with urban themes and graffiti to send messages, provoke thoughts and emotions.
I use classical references because the appeal of the classic is something atavistic, almost genetic … classical aesthetics is generally considered sublime because the canons it uses are still very powerful and effective for all of us, so I like to contaminate it with the contemporary ‘anti-aesthetic’ of the urban culture world of hip-hop and graffiti, and surprise the viewer by creating a pleasant composition and therefore breaking their mold.
In light of this, I see art as a manifestation of the imagination which is our divine gift par excellence. So art cannot be limited to reality, to the convictions or beliefs of the moment, it must be something out of time and space.
Venus, which is in any case a timeless mythological character, has always been the symbol of female beauty, and it seemed to me interesting to revalue this symbol and above all to highlight contemporary aesthetic concepts within a symbol of the past.
How did the collaboration with Kylie Jenner come about?
Allora [so]… the project started almost a year ago, due to a provocation by Playboy, who invited me to create a work (which will be launched in February 2021) that would represent the essence of femininity and sensuality of today’s woman.
From there Kylie’s proposal also arose and we started working on the project, first in Los Angeles, then in Italy where I finished the statue.
After that, I created, also in Italy, several versions of the VENUS VICTRIX HODIE with pop and more traditional finishes.
In addition to the Playboy event in California and Mexico with the presentation of a book created by Playboy for the Project, we are coordinating project presentation events with Saatchi Art with whom I have been collaborating for several years (the world’s number one online gallery), Eden Gallery NY ( Soho and Madison Ave.) and London, BELAIRFINART and other galleries around the world.
Your previous works play on the nuances embedded in the concepts of ‘aesthetic’, ‘street art’, ‘hip hop culture’. Do you think the streets are the new museums? Or is it the internet maybe?
I believe that the streets should be the museums, I believe that art should be accessible to everyone and thus fulfil its communicative function.
That will never happen … but we are definitely experiencing a process of democratization of art where the figure of intermediation will be progressively eliminated.
Although the streets will not become museums, I think the Internet has democratized the art world in an important way, and I believe this process will increase over the years.
The ability of online art platforms to empower the public as tastemaker is an example of one such change, one which has many positive outcomes: for the public, who will be able to refine their judgements of art; for artists, who desire a level playing field; and for culture, which will become far more representative of all society, not just the curator classes.
The divulgation of art through the Internet has given a great power to the public (potential clients) and has allowed the artist to have access to a global audience.
In my case thanks to the Internet I could achieve enormous visibility and arouse the interest of collectors and art dealers around the world.
Has the Covid-19 affected your work and professional plans? How has it been in Costa Rica where you’ve been working?
Covid-19 has affected trips and scheduled exhibitions, but has exponentially increased demand on the internet.
In Costa Rica there have been certain irrational restrictive measures, as in most countries, but not as rigid as in Italy.
For me, Covid-19 has been a clear testimony to the level of consciousness of our species and how fear governs the lives of the majority, and therefore it has reinforced my mission to be a source of inspiration through my art.
Read more about classic and modern depictions of Venus: