Italian Artist Shares New Concrete Ideas

Artist Mario Loprete

My name is Mario Loprete. I live in Catanzaro, a small Calabrian city in the south of Italy. We are in the land that the ancient Greeks called “Magna Grecia,” rich in culture and history.

I also travel a lot. I rent a house in European cities that could inspire my work and consolidate some work relationships with galleries and collectors that I began on the internet.

Artistically, I am self-taught, studying the history of art in Catanzaro and the great masters of art—Mattia Preti, Caravaggio, Rembrandt—without external contaminations. I studied at an art shop of a Calabrian master artist for six years from whom I learned a lot.

Painting of feet on rope high wire
Performance, 100 x 70 cm, oil on canvas, 2002

Until 2002, I stayed in Calabria to paint from reality. My main objective was to speed up my brush strokes and acquire better technique, fighting against time that changes light and color.

Then I became aware that I missed something inside. I felt a void-like sensation. So at the age of 34 I decided to attend The Academy of Fine Arts of Catanzaro. I needed to confront other artists, to share experiences and to search for new goals. In February 2007, I finished my studies, feeling enriched and very motivated.

I now get up in the morning and I want to paint. At night I go to sleep and I feel satisfied because I think that another day has passed, a day dedicated to the research that strengthens my work.

I never wished to be a painter of the fashion of the moment. I exceedingly like to paint everything that symbolizes urban style, because I think that the task of the artist is to show the world that surrounds him.

Painting of man looking through circle made by his fingers
Fabri Fibra, 20 cm, oil on concrete, 2018

Why Hip-Hop?

At some point of my career, I felt the need to utilize a theme that could be comprehended by everyone. In Hip-Hop, I found the solution. It’s a philosophy of life without geographical borders. A universal language. Rap music always kept me company in my study. It was the soundtrack of my work. The brush strokes were rhythmic and my body felt the energy of the music.

I am preparing a beautiful series for an imminent art show in April 2019 at the Complesso Monumentale San Giovanni in Catanzaro composed of a musical CD covered in concrete, on which I painted some dancing B-Boys. These are contained in Plexiglass casings.

Painting of B-Boy
B-Boy,100 x100 cm, oil on cement, 2018
Painting of B-boy dancing
B-boy, 100×100 cm, oil on cement, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting of B-boy dancing
B-boy, 100×100 cm, oil on cement, 2018

The subjects of my portraits are pictures downloaded from the internet. I elaborate them on the PC and eliminate what I consider to be superfluous to create that important equilibrium.

I particularly like to portray Ja Rule, Xzibit, The Game, Mary J. Blige, Beyoncé and 50 Cent along with the Italian Hip-Hop scene closer to me.

Painting of Sister Awa
Sister Awa, 100×100 cm, oil on cement, 2018
Painting of Beyoncé
Beyoncé, 40 x50 cm, oil on cement, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting of Private Eye
Private Eye, 80×100 cm, oil on canvas, 2010

 

Painting of B-boy on concrete mirror
B-boy, 30×40 cm, oil on concrete, 2016

But even more, I like painting common people who live away from authors and photography sets. These are the subjects that I find most emotional.

Painting of man on concrete
Fabri Fibra, 25 cm, oil on concrete, 2015

About 10 years ago, I felt that my work needed a promotional push. Visiting cities like Milan, Basel, Rome, I stumbled upon some advertising signs as big as palaces with promotional messages. I asked myself, why don’t I paint real and recognizable metropolitan views substituting the advertising with my b-boys?

Billboard with painting of B-boy on side of building
Untitled, oil on canvas 120 x 150 cm, 2008
Loprete in front of canvas with purple shoes painted on it
Untitled, 120×150 cm, oil on canvas, 2016

My newest series of works are on concrete and are giving me more personal and professional satisfaction. The reinforced cement, the concrete, was created 2000 years ago by the Romans. It made amphitheatres, bridges and roads for conquerors of the ancient and modern world. Now it’s a synonym of modernity.

Red dancers on individual pieces of concrete
B-boys, 12×24 cm each, urethane enamel on concrete, 2018

 

If man brought art on the streets to make it accessible to everyone, why not bring this urban material into galleries and museums? It was the winning step to the evolutionary process of my work. It has given me exposure in prestigious places and to important collectors.

The artistic process of my works is classical. After I trace the detailed drawing, I apply the oil colors and the glazes. When the painting has completely dried, I brush it with a special final varnish that unites color and shade, and gives the art work its shine and lucidity.

 

Button up shirt molded with concrete
Untitled, 31x34x10 cm, concrete sculpture, 2016
Undershirt on hanger, molded with concrete
Untitled, 32×86 cm, concrete sculpture and iron, 2018

 

For my sculptures I use my personal clothing, applying plaster, resin and cement to transform them into artworks. My memory, my DNA, my memories remain concreted inside, transforming the viewer into a type of post-modern archeologist studying my work as if they were urban artifacts.

 

I also love graffiti, I understand that the usage of the word is fundamental to make art. The words arrive to the brain directly, like a cold and devastating bullet. So, feeling that inside me a tile of my mosaic was missing, I created a new series of works.

In my series, Words, I use reinforced cement in all of its essence and elegance to build letters with which I compose the words and my message.

Words "On Air" made of concrete
On Air, concrete, 2018

My art is always dedicated to who can recognize it. To who sees my message. I like to think that who buys my work also buys a temporal door he wants to enter it. He will be conducted into my world, into my way of doing art.

Mario stading in his Amsterdam workshop
Mario in his Amsterdam workshop

Mario Loprete
Mario Loprete has shown his work from Catanzaro to Basel and Budapest, from Amsterdam to New York City. Click here to see more of his work.

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