Andrea Pagnes: A definition of your particular way of painting could be the following: to think through rep-resentation, especially when it seems that the “Self” in the picture is the reflection of the author himself, which is you. If so, I find that there is something deeper to be exhausted. Actually, you are not only focused to deepen the characters in relation to the composition, or to merely identify “yourself” with them. Espe-cially in your last works, while observing them, it is like to attend a crushing of the “narrator” in several "parts": a kaleidoscopic narrator’s ego, which is fragmented to implement continuous transformations, while becoming more responsible by interpreting different roles.

David Dalla Venezia: Over the last few years, things became a little bit more ‘complicated’... And this com-plexity is achieved through a multiplicity of point of views, different perspectives, and of course through the evolution of my visions as well. It’s more than a fragmentation process. It is a further explanation of the Self, that just as a folded piece of paper, once you “open” it, it reveals from time to time what can be marked there above. A sheet of paper cannot be folded more than seven times, but the Self?!
Then it may happen that the sheet be torn… that enigmas entangle and ball up on and on: torn apart, dis-membered and re-assembled into a polyptych, to resurge still but properly into painting.

AP: In the paintings where you portray yourself, I think you have made a step forward. It seems you are able to distil a clear and straightforward sense of “theatre attitude”: unique and yours, which, in my view, you have always had. You openly demonstrate a real skilfulness to deal with a system of “scenic forms”, which you freeze into polished snapshots. In this way you bring back the meaning of the image to painting in a more organic way, as it is its natural belonging.

DDV: I enact what I see, in and out of me. If the painting is essentially “to see”, then it can also be theatre - assuming that the root thau always involves seeing. I'll tell you more: the painter has often identified himself with the actor; he has often embodied into it virtually, by putting himself into the actor’s shoes. In the home studio of Rembrandt, relatives, friends and students were constantly involved in theatre and music mise en scene a mixture of life and representation. I have always in my mind the Gilles of Watteau and his expres-sion of resigned surprise – I cannot imagine that that is Watteau himself – and how, from that moment, the painter’s crisis process of that time has started, manifesting a strong presence of Pierrots, Harlequins and Pulchinellos inside the paintings.

The wonder, the thauma (again “to see”...), is the essence and the engine of the representation, be it in paint-ing or theatre.

AP: Since the very beginning of your career, you have been demonstrating to be a sort of “metaphysical in-vestigator”, explorer of the ineffable. However, today, I find more appropriate to portray you as a refined composer of forms, which tell of what it lies and hides behind them.

DDV: Nice paradox! The physics is empirical; the metaphysics is theoretical (once again ... this root).

AP: I am impressed (and sometimes inspired too) by “how” you use metaphors in painting (not allegories!) as a way of “expressive economy” (assuming a Borges statement), but not just to condense the occurrence into the image, rather to tighten a sequence of perceptions, the precarious fragmented world that revolves around us, or even to scratch the simplest emotion to make it really yours, and hence re-live it through paint-ing’s own memory.
DDV: In fact, if a painting might be regarded as a theory of “being seen” things, or a catalogue of visionary experiments, through the composition someone can reconstruct what stands in front of him, and searches for what lies in the evidence.

AP: There is strong and clear “carnal” tension that appears in many moments of your work, a reference to the “body issue” that is one central theme of your poetry. This also declares a sort of vivid truthfulness that distinguishes what you paint. A lot of things are gathering because of this tension: caducity and precarious-ness, to look for balance, empirical dialogue, claim, surprise, and affirmation without mercy; all things that exist, as in the same way exist all those other things, which are contrary and/or complementary.

DDV: The magic of painting is just to transform matter into something else, so that simple pigments mixed with some liquid can become another thing: skin, sweat, blood. There is something luxurious and “abun-dantly arrogant” in this carnality of painting, which is maybe what causes so much trouble to iconoclasts.

AP: I see something pagan in the need of all this; undoubtedly it is a result of a careful reflection, sometimes playful, a sort of juggling shamanic attitude to give indications to analyze and think to “who we are”; a revelation to the “other” (the observer? yourself?) how essential is to know our nature, our constitutive ele-ments, what we are made of.

DDV: It is said that Leonardo had painted a beautiful Madonna, so vivid and veracious that the purchaser had asked him to remove the religious attributes, to be able to contemplate and enjoy the picture without blasphemy.
Painting often makes fun of what it represents, and a beautiful painting remains always so, even when we know nothing about what it would have had to represent. I think many artists have had fun with colors and brushes behind major clients and major doctrines and religions. It's the same satisfaction that comes when for the first time you manage to twirl three balls in the air without dropping them!

AP: “Looking back and carry forward” (as Walter Benjamin stated in the Angel of History): recovering the "good" painting to evolve and develop it. I think here to your recent organizational commitment to bring the Kitsch Biennale 2010, conceived by Odd Nerdrum, in Venice at Palazzo Cini). Does this make sense to rede-fine and upgrade (at least in part) contemporary Italian painting?

DDV: Actually there is no recovery, because there never was any neglect. The painting has continued to ex-ist as in the past, and always with the same excellence.
What happened is that many have renounced just to become “an artist”, giving up the “eternal” to enjoy the search for the “ever new”. A painter does not care of his own time, but compares himself with models and examples that are the largest and most perfect known. What more can be done after Leonardo, Michelangelo and Titian? You can only try, hard, to reach their quality as much as you can.

It's like that motif of the First Symphony of Mahler, which runs underneath and always returns the same to itself, emerging from the blare of the trumpets!

So there is no need to re-qualify the contemporary Italian painting (and equally of all the other places); many painters of great quality are already here, in Italy, around the world, as there were many good painters in the recent past. They are just simply not-up-to-date, as – actually – painting is too.

The importance of Nerdrum, as well as of his pictorial genius, lies in indicating that it is not necessary to be up-to-date at all, to participate in accordance with the today Art conformism. Nerdrum, and with him many others, called Kitsch this incarnation of painting in our time.

I strongly wanted to bring here in Venice the Kitsch Biennale to give my contribution, to show and demon-strate that there is an alternative to the Art domain and its dogmas, how they have been developed over the past century, and how all this is so close to our eye.

AP: To immerse yourself in the law of composition of each of your work, draw on your pictures as possible reservoirs of inspiration and knowledge; is to implement a process of mutual understanding between you, the other (the viewer/fruiter as your double) and what you paint, or is there more?

DDV: Well, I think what you've said is already sufficient! Although there is perhaps something more: the temporal dimension. Painting is a journey through time, past and future.

AP: Having someone “for who” to paint is vivifying? Who, if any, is this “someone” for David Dalla Venezia?

DDV: Initially and for a long time I painted mainly for myself: the pleasure to learn and make a painting in all its practical phases, stretching the canvas, preparing and dyeing, outlining the structure to find the images. I was pushed by the need of being able to see out my visions.

Now perhaps I'm starting to paint for them: for the pictures! There is an invisible thread that binds them, and there I see a path, a way. Therefore, the paintings I’m doing now are further pieces that connect them one to each other: it is a quest to look for a coherent consistency. And finally I paint for my children, I like to paint and observe them, listening to the spontaneous and direct words that they say while watching the images that appear onto the canvas surface. They have no doubt, they say what they see, and this is very relaxing.

AP: I've always appreciated what you wrote and write on art. As well as some texts that were written about you, like the ones by Lucien d'Azay and Emanuela Pezzetta. Some of our conversations, in 1990, have been organized in a book of mine. But it is the so candid and frank way with which your aesthetic considerations have evolved (from the exhibition at Bac Art Studio of Venice in 1998, to the one at Davico Gallery of Turin in 2008) that deserves special attention.

DDV: I like to write, but for me it is a slow and laborious process. When I start writing then, for some rea-son, I tend to confess myself... manifesting a sense of inadequacy that comes over me, whenever I start thinking about what I do and try to give it a sense.

To paint is much easier that is why I am a thinker who paints otherwise I was a thinker who writes.

Anyway I like to see what someone else can write about my painting: the sharp psychological analysis of Lucien, or your deep and heartfelt words that introduce this catalogue. In other cases the primary requirement is a “method”, so I turn to someone who can give (as in the case of Emanuela for Who Killed Cattelan? event), more scientific rigor to the text.

AP: Today, the ability and courage you have to put yourself into question easily is a sign of maturity. Now that you're in the middle of the journey of your life, don’t you feel the need to collect in a catalogue raisoneé the many experiences you have pursued with your painting through the years?

DDV: Honestly, I think I'm only now reaching the point where I can start to do something. These first twenty years of work were in fact years of training and preparation. It is not yet time to recap, and all the things I will do in the future will probably sense what I've done so far. I hope we'll talk about that in another twenty years!