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foto Diego Cirulli 2.jpeg interview in contemporary art magazine

Spotlight Interview with
Diego Cirulli




What attracted you as a child to the visual arts? Can you identify moments in your childhood that triggered your passion for art? 

Drawing has always been an act of pure joy for me. I used it as a creative tool for play and imagination in the early years. When I draw, there is something vital and real that is set in motion. I always carry a notebook with me to draw and make notes. The hand takes over and does the thinking.


Was there anyone at that stage who you now consider as having inspired you towards an artistic path?

I could mention many people and artists who have inspired me throughout my life and who continue to do so today. In general, the greatest influences came from those who managed to establish an intense and powerful bond with me. Most of the time, these are people I am acquainted with. In other instances, I only know them through their work. Furthermore, they are not necessarily associated with the artistic field.

What in the physical environment growing up in Argentina helped inspire and mould your approach to art? 


My family has always been close to the arts. In my house, as a child, I grew up surrounded by drawings from my uncle, and my grandfather also loved painting and wrote poetry. 

'The image is something
that slowly unfolds
different emotions and interpretations.'


Who were your great inspirations as you were training as an artist? I notice names such as the Villagrán Brothers, José Alberto Marchi, Eduardo Molinar, Diana Aisenberg were part of your formative years. 


All the names you mention influenced my path in different ways. As the 17th Century Jewish-Dutch philosopher Spinoza, once said, nothing goes anywhere. The experiences and thoughts that I exchanged with my past mentors certainly left their mark on me. 

What influences your work now?

Imagination. I believe that a self-aware imagination can create a world of possibilities. Imagination can expand our sensitivities and open them up to new experiences. 


Painting creates images one can always return to. Not in the melancholic sense of someone who longs to step back into known territory, but providing a path from which one can glimpse new possibilities. In my work process I try to introduce a difference. It could be something minimal, a change in the colour palette, a different tool, or a technical or conceptual difficulty. The conceptual and the material are two aspects of the same thing.

I notice your work often features one accented colour drenched in a dark background. Can you tell me a little bit more about that approach? 


I understand colour as relational intensities. I don't think about colours by themselves. I always think about them in relation to one another. Colour, considered in this intensive way, is a spatial and temporal magnitude, experienced both in an instant and over time. The image is something that slowly unfolds different emotions and interpretations. I am interested in the openness of contemplation.


Within my own work process, starting with a given colour problem, an intuition that is immanent to the image shapes the formal and spatial resolution of the painting.


I think of the image as a bodily event. I am interested in images that convey an oceanic feeling.

















Two works that stand out for me are Red Inflection and Orchard, what inspired these pieces and tell me a little more about what they each aim to convey to the audience? 

In a book by Argentinian author R. Larraquy  he says, the gaze is a matter that touches things. The image within my work creates a physical dimension by capturing the gaze. It is an experience that affects you in a bodily way and commands your attention visually. There is a telepathic connection between the sensation that fascinates and captivates and the discomfort of not being able to detach yourself easily from that magnetic force. There is a temperature in the environment, a stolen time, an overflowing desire, a dull joy, a mute fear. Confronted by the image, those are the emotions that remain.

Orchard oil on canvas 190 x 140 cm 2020.jpg works by D. Cirulli in contemporary art magazine


Red inflection oil on canvas 150 x 210 cm 2020.jpg works by D. Cirulli in contemporary art magazine

Red Inflection

In general do you want your audiences to perceive your work in a particular way or is it open to interpretation? 

Of course my work is open to interpretation. One of the main functions of my images is to develop a climate, an imaginary territory with clear, formal and spatial qualities that can influence perception in tangible ways. 

I am interested in the idea of something becoming foreign and unfamiliar.  For example, when I finish a painting and cannot recognise certain aspects of the work, it is because a displacement has occurred during my process of what is known to me. I will most definitely not be able to fully comprehend what has happened, nor am I interested in doing so, but I feel the certainty of moving through that confusion positively.

Would you describe your work as being within a genre and if so which genre is that? Aestheticism, symbolism, expressionism etc. or a fusion of more than one? 


I never really think in terms of artistic genres, and I was never devoted to those classifications. I am interested in the work of artists, more than movements. I am interested in the works above all.


Is there a political theme to your work? Or any other themes?


I think there are political decisions without a doubt. Doing something instead of doing nothing is a political decision. Expanding the sensorium and imagination is a political bet. In other instances my work has been closely linked to historical events that captured social crossroads, not bound to a specific political party, but as a creative act in the present tense, which is the only time in which the political takes place.


What direction do you think your work will take in the future?


I would like to return to certain aspects of the installation as an art form that I have passed through in previous years, so that I can delve further into the abyss of the image.


How long is your work exhibiting in Basel? 


My show at the BC Gallery in Basel runs until the end of March 2022.

Interview by Hazel Clarke

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