ANNA MONACO – ANOUK

CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

AM: I don’t like to define my work; every time I tried to do it, every definition tended to inevitably exclude some fundamental aspect of it. I do many different things and for me they are never enough; I would like to do more and more. My education is artistic, I studied at an artistic high school and I graduated in sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples. I then specialized in photojournalism, so I am a photographer as well, and teach photography too. Illustration; however, is at the moment the activity to which I have been devoting myself most to. I used to think that differentiating my production so much was a disadvantage, but in fact it helps to enrich me more and give me new stimuli and new ideas for my works. Studying sculpture for example meant that I adopted a modus operandi which then served me a lot in my profession as a photographer. When you have to create a clay shape, start from the general, from the mass, and then go slowly to define the details. And I instinctively apply this same method in my photojournalism works. Starting from the general to get to the particular is my way of photographing. Take the situation away, observe, enter the story slowly, start from the wide fields, from the spaces, from the environment and then get to know the people, enter their homes, portray them and go into detail. And this is also my approach to life in general. Oscar Wilde said: defining is limiting.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

AM: The inspiration for my works comes largely from my hometown. I am fortunate to be born in a country rich in history and art, of great natural, architectural and archaeological beauties and I am constantly fascinated by shapes and colors. My stimuli comes from the landscapes that surround me, from the myths and legends that speak of my land, from the sacred art and from the popular culture, from the countless archaeological excavations that I continually visit thanks to my work as a photographer, from the studies of classical art and the Greek stationary, from portraiture and decorations of Italian Renaissance art. From nature. Also many influences come from the places I visit when I travel. Light and colors are the elements that predominate in the choice of places I visit. Marrakech, for example, is a continuous visual stimulus for me.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

AM: I would like to be much more methodical in this. I would like to decide to work on a theme, a project and carry it out to the end. Unfortunately, this hardly ever happens unless it is commissioned work. When I work on a personal project I am discontinuous. For example, while I am carrying out a photographic project, I interrupt it and I start to draw or create handmade products. I consider this a huge limit of my creative process but it is also true that it allows me to differentiate my production so much.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

AM: The topics I intend to deal with, of course. And the enormous attention to color, shape and composition, balance and harmony of all my work. Right now I am going through a phase in which I would like to combine the social aspect of my work as a photographer (which is one of the most important aspects of the profession as a photojournalist) with that of a designer. I would like to make illustration projects that, while maintaining my style, my attention to color and composition, put the observer, together with me, in a time of reflection on our society, on our time, on our land. I hope this will be the next step of my production.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

AM: My lifestyle is simple and every day everything I do, see, know and learn is inevitably connected with my work. I love plants and I love to observe them. I observe their growth, study the composition of flowers, their colors.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

AM: I think the ideal fit for everything in life is in the middle. Having a direction is fundamental but the impulse makes the work of art.

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

AM: I learned not to be afraid of my abilities, my ideas, my intuitions and my ideals and above all to try to make them stand out.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

I believe that all great artists are always recognizable; who have a very strong identification style, despite themselves. Picasso is always Picasso; when he scribbles, when he paints, when he creates costumes or theatrical scenes, when he creates ceramics or sculptures. I don’t think it’s fundamental but I believe that in a great artist, this comes by itself.​

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

AM: I think being an artist has always been difficult in the same way; in the past as it has today. It is not easy to assert one’s work, one’s effort. Very often the creative process of an artist is debased, underestimated or considered as a simple and due act. As if an artist did not need to study, to do research, to practice. We always think that artists are born and that’s it, but that’s not the case. Dowry, attitude and talent are certainly innate, but constant study and research are fundamental in determining an artist.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

AM: The most extraordinary thing about being an artist is freedom of expression and the ability to share your world view with others. Every individual who manages to do this through their work is an artist to me.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

AM: Yes, there are many, each for a specific reason. I am inspired by ancient Greek architecture and statuary. Giotto and Simone Martini. Leonardo, Raffaello, Botticelli, Michelangelo and Brunelleschi. Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Auguste Rodin. Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo. Anish Kapoor, Ai Wei Wei.  But also great photographers like Alex Webb, Paolo Pellegrin, Ugo Mulas, Annie Leibovitz, Tina Modotti, Diane Arbus. And my favorite photographer, my partner Roberto Salomone, the person with whom I constantly discuss and compare myself to on photography, on art, on our work. He who believes in me and supports me daily. Each of these artists for me is a source of continuous stimulus, inspiration, teaching, study and reasoning. I continuously learn from them not only for their artistic work; in some cases I also look up to them as people.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

AM: Technology represents the discovery and opportunity of our time. It is only a medium that we must learn to exploit to our advantage, not only in the artistic field of course. I believe that its use can be of great help as long as you don’t lose contact with the material and manual skills.

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

AM: I believe that the substantial difference between an artist and a person who is not one, consists precisely in this: having a different way of seeing things and representing them. A different way of communicating and living.

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

AM: I like traveling a lot even if I don’t do it too often. My favorite cities are always three: Naples, the last city I have known and the next one that I will know. Marrakesh is the last to have entered my heart.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

AM: Just to mention a couple of references … I love the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska, Fedor Dostoevskij’s White Nights, and I am currently immersed in the reading of various texts by Stefano Mancuso; scientist and director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology of the University of Florence, which I’m passionate about. In a moment in which I feel the need to be connected with the earth and with nature, he represents the perfect reading for me.

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

AM: Experimenting is always the goal and the future plan for my work.

AM: Being an artist for me means having the opportunity to show others your own vision of the world and share it.

CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?

AM: I don’t remember exactly what was the last song I listened to but lately I’ve been listening to the music of my dear friend Hindi Zahra. I also started listening to Julian Bream’s guitar and the Jazz Manouche.

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork

AM: I am always looking for balance and harmony; whether it’s shapes or colors. To try to express and share moods, emotions and ideals. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a reportage photo or a drawing.

 

CHECK OUT MORE ON: ANOUK

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