In this interview conducted in his studio in Milan, artist Simone Fugazzotto talks to us about his work, in which chimpanzees become a metaphorical expression for man.
Gentleman’s Chronicles: Today we have the pleasure of meeting Simone Fugazzotto, an artist born in 1983 who works mostly in Milan and New York. Simone, you depict chimpanzees in your paintings to create powerful and ironic images. Where did this idea come from?
Simone Fugazzotto: I wanted to describe our everyday life in a different way, using a metaphor, and so my chimpanzees are simply people reflected in a broken mirror. Spectators have to choose which the side of the mirror they want to look at. So on one side there is purity, on the other there are vices, weaknesses and insecurity.
In some of your works, the clothes worn by the chimpanzees suggest that they are in captivity. For human beings, do you think that clothing represents freedom?
Of course, garments say a lot about the wearer’s personality. I think that if we all went into the same store, we would all emerge different, revealing our own character.
Being an artist means spending a lot of time alone in the studio. What is your favourite look for special events, such as the opening of one of your exhibitions, or a prize-giving ceremony?
The most important moments are those in the studio, and so in reality I always search for the right outfit in which to paint, and every time it is a little different. It’s as if the clothes I wear help me create what I have in mind.
Looking at your works, you can’t help thinking about evolution and the identity of contemporary man. Do you think that man is still evolving?
No. All my work on the human being is linked to this. There are some wonderful exceptions, some lovely moments, in which human beings are capable of surprising us all with something remarkable and moving. But generally speaking, mankind is a disaster.
Do you think that the concept of a Gentleman still means something in contemporary society?
I think that it’s not just the outfit that is important, but in addition, you have to be consistent. So I dress the way I feel, I feel comfortable in the clothes that I wear, which are impeccable, but at the same time I also have to be impeccable from the human point of view.
Artists generally want to be famous, but a Gentleman is hallmarked by discretion. How do you reconcile these two opposing factors?
It’s true that artists want to be famous, but at the same time most artists find it hard to deal with popularity and media exposure.
Have you ever met someone, an artist, a gallery owner, a critic, who impressed you for his Gentlemanly character?
Never. The more you try to gain respect in this field, the more it seems that you have to be pushy and uncouth.
Boggi Milano takes inspiration from Italian men with a cosmopolitan approach. In your own personal style, what would you define as being typically Italian?
I don’t think that a specifically Italian approach to style is particularly significant, but I can give you an example. I read something about Picasso, who said, “see, we are in Paris in the 1920s, everything is dazzling, but I recognize typically Italian elegance only in Modigliani.”
One of the hallmarks of a Gentleman is the way he treats his partner. In your opinion, what is the secret to winning a woman’s heart?
I’m not sure, but I feel that you can attract a woman’s attention in two ways, with fascinating conversation, and by means of an overall savoir-faire.
At Boggi Milano we think that there are some rules that a Gentleman follows by instinct. Which do you think is the most important rule for a Gentleman?
Greatness means being able to feel at home in any context. But I think that the most important characteristic is that a Gentleman is capable of putting everyone in that situation at their ease.
Thank you Simone Fugazzotto, our time is up.
Thank you for visiting me in my studio.