I've always wanted to interview Vincenzo and at last I’ve got the chance!
Vincenzo is a very “laid-back” person who dedicates his life to teaching art and experimenting with new techniques.
Today, Vincenzo Ganadu’s Surf Art is known and respected worldwide. In addition to Surf Art, his work also ranges from “Abstract Art” to “Custom” commissioned decorations.
Welcome to Reeson Stories with Vincenzo Ganadu!
(Interviewer: Luca Rizzotto)
- Hi Vincenzo, how’s it going?
VG: Hi REESON, I’m good thanks!
- How do you think it is possible for Art to change the world?
VG: For me Art has always been a way of dealing with life’s problems, an essential kind of medicine if you like, that I use to avoid being sucked in by the system, by the monotony of routine! Creativity, plus technical knowledge and intuition are essential elements for being able to create a dynamic lifestyle. We are all the result of changes, whether in fashion or language and in art, renewal inevitably changes our world at an ever faster pace.
- When you have a new idea for a project, how do you decide whether it will be a painting or a sculpture?
VG: I always start by thinking of a theme or a subject I haven’t fully explored, then I start making some preliminary sketches and drafts and it is only a little later that I’m sure that it is more suited to paint on canvas or a sculpture. It’s from that moment of awareness that the gestation period really begins.
- Among all your various other projects, you are planning to take your “Surf Legend Portrait Works” on the road as a travelling exhibition. How are you planning the various locations and why in those places?
VG: When projects are big, so are the difficulties that you have to deal with in making them happen .... At the same time, when they’re successful it’s so satisfying. One of the latest projects I've been working on is “Surf Legend Portraits”, a long list of athletes who have written the history of surfing, getting to the absolute pinnacle and becoming immortal icons of the sport. It was really exciting to paint 15 large 150 x 120 canvases interpreting the most iconic faces of surfing, such as Duke Kananamoku, Jack O’Neill, Kelly Slater and Shaun Tompson to name but a few and last but not least the Sardinian Francisco Porcella. This project came to mind in the form of a travelling exhibition starting in Milan and then moving to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hawaii and Australia, places that have been witness to the outstanding feats of these surfing legends. At the moment my contacts promoting the project are waiting for positive feedback from sponsors to support the event, so while I’m waiting for that to be successful, I’m trying to implement new projects.
- Remember that time when you were still a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sassari and your sculpture teacher asked you to create something that has now become an “icon”? ... tell us a little about how it happened and why this sculpture is so important to you.
VG: Sometimes you meet people whose advice will change your life or, even better, open your mind. I was lucky enough to meet the artist and sculptor Pinuccio Sciola who was my teacher when I was a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sassari in 1994. Eventually he got so fed up with me always arriving late for his lessons because I’d been surfing that one day he decided enough was enough and he challenged me to produce 50 sketches drawing on the Sardinian culture of the Nuraghic bronzes, for the next day! This challenge resulted in "Temerario", an abstract sculpture that represents a surfer crossed with a Nuraghic bronze figure but brandishing a surfboard instead of a shield. Over the years it became the first monument to the Surf boys. It was about 4 metres high and installed at Porto Ferro in 1996 (unfortunately it’s no longer in existence). From 1995 on, my close working relationship with Sciola became increasingly intense, to the point where he included me as a collaborator in the San Sperate murals project, giving me the opportunity to learn the techniques needed for creating murals and understand the importance of social sharing.
This boost to my creative awareness gave me the impetus to paint the first pictorial monument to Sardinian immigrants in South America, a 10 metres high and 30 metres long mural which I created in the Peruvian capital Lima, thanks to a working partnership with the Lima Sardinian Social Group. In 2000 and later in 2002 I was invited to Laguna Beach in California to exhibit my “made in Italy” works exclusively on “Surf Art”, where local collectors appreciated them for their dynamic colours and lack of outlines obtained using an extreme method of pictorial synthesis, or to put it in a nutshell, like nothing they’d ever seen before !!!
Sciola was not only my mentor, but his teachings live on in everything I create, in every social relationship that I establish with my students, in every moment of frustration when the world crashes down around your ears and you find the strength to get back up, in every crazy project that I create that is the result of a challenge and shaped by passion.
- You are very focused on the "New Generation" - you talk to and involve younger generations a lot, always trying to bring together people from different backgrounds who maybe haven’t had any previous experiences with art, tell me about your vision and how you approach young people.
VG: Despite my venerable age (I’m 46), I still pay close attention to the new talents offered by the latest generation, whether it's surfing, music, skateboarding or dance. What attracts me is the awareness of a person’s potential. My work as a teacher gives me tremendous opportunities to be in contact with young people and also gives me the chance to make them understand the importance of sharing their knowledge and their artistic skills.
In 2012 I was artistic director at Bessude for the creation of a dozen or so murals painted by young volunteers from an International civilian service project. They came from all over, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Greece, the Ukraine, Azerbaijan and elsewhere and the focus was the sharing of ideals and harmony between working groups as they decorated the different walls. Without imposing any particular project or design, the students demonstrated a complete awareness of their cultural and geographical identities, suggesting and creating sketches directly related to their own homelands.
- Why is it particularly important to build a real community, away from Instagram and Facebook?
VG: I probably feel more responsible than other people for the education of students and young people, so in my role as teacher, I show them how to create works through using different techniques, I make seem simple and this reassures students, I use mobile phones to document the work being done and to interview students during and after group work. This method strengthens and consolidates their skills and makes each student more satisfied and confident of success, without forgetting that following their passions is the main reason for our existence rather than staying glued to the virtual reality of social media that takes us away from creativity and the emotions and feelings that it arouses.
- Talking about your art, your works have been displayed at Long Beach, Australia and a number of other places. How did you get to this point and how much has it helped you to establish your “Awareness” as an international artist?
VG: It is probably determination and the overwhelming need to compare myself with artists from all over the world that has made me what I am.
25 years ago I was the only Surf Artist exhibiting his works in Italy, and I had to invite companies from the sector to buy the royalties; from there it was off to France and then California where I was really able to hit the big time, getting myself known and creating works in public. The constant work gave me the chance to compare myself with great artists and be appreciated by lots of surfing legend such as Herbie Fletcher in California, Rabbit Kekai in Hawaii, Randy French in San Francisco and Phil Jarratt in Noosa in Australia, all motivating me to produce new work and collaborate on events, TV series, collective exhibitions, etc.
Now everything is easier, thanks to the Internet, social networks and it will never be ...... as exciting as travelling the world ... .with your own folder of drawings under your arm ...... looking into someone’s eyes as you shake hands and seal the deal selling 20 pieces of works directly.
- What is the biggest lesson you have learned from enjoying seeing your work on display in galleries so far from Sardinia?
VG: It is interesting to observe people as they reflect in front of your paintings.
It makes me aware of how much communicative power art can generate, I remember the sheikhs at the Brisbane show in Australia in 2010 who were discussing in front of one of my most published works titled “Presa di Coscienza/In the grip of Conscience”; the crowd in the Surf Gallery in Laguna Beach the day of the inauguration, I remember the crazy buffet at the Honolulu exhibition in Oahu, but I think one of the greatest satisfactions was getting a call from Warner Bros at Turtle Bay and being asked to create three pieces to be used for the interior of a set.
- Is there an element of Sardinia in your works?
VG: The daredevil embodies the spirit and essence of Sardinia.
- Apart from nature and surfing, what has been your greatest influence when you are creating art?
VG: One of the artists I have most watched is John Severson, and I will soon be dedicating a large-scale tribute to him.
- Like Reeson, are you always attentive to what's happening around you, how do you think the local community sees you?
VG: I wouldn’t know ... .. you’d have to ask them! Perhaps my life experience and my passion might be an example to many, but I certainly couldn’t say what’s best for them ....
There are some people who know me from having seen me surfing and they appreciate me as a surfer, even if it’s not easy to get into the water lately ... .. and then there are those who know my work without knowing who’s painted them.
Vincenzo in Action
- 2018 is now over, what were the biggest and the worst artistic experiences you had in the year just finished?
VG: 2018 is coming to an end and I realize that I haven’t had time to do a whole lot of things, but ......... I look back and it’s very satisfying to see how much actually has been done in these years.
- What projects do you have for 2019?
VG: I’m going to dedicate 2019 to every aspect of feminine beauty, from the deep and sensual glances to the movements on the board.
- Well Vincenzo, we’ve come to the end of the interview, although it would be great to carry on in front of a coffee or a good beer. Many thanks for your time and see you soon.
VG: Thank you to you Luca, I’ll look forward to having you as a guest at my studio/ house near Porto Ferro. Bye for now
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