Past & Present: Slasky’s Neo Urban Classic Collection
Italian contemporary artist Slasky speaks to Klein Editions about the release of his Neo Urban Classic collection of embellished giclée works on canvas, and explains how this series explores new forms of art while celebrating our important artistic past.
How would you describe this new series?
“The Neo Urban Classic Collection is a selection of pieces in which I have merged classic art works with contemporary digital art techniques, in order to transport the art that I believe to be incredibly important into our present time. By placing the original artwork’s protagonists into contemporary social and artistic environments, I created a number of pieces that send new messages and require a level of collaboration from the viewer in order to be understood”
The whole series is available as unique pieces, instead of the limited editions you tend to produce. Is there a specific reason behind this decision?
“I guess it’s because I feel particularly close to this series. It’s one I have been working on for a long time, and it’s very personal to me. Because I feel so strongly about this series, I like idea of it being made of unique pieces rather than prints. I think the pieces of this collection will be bought by people who understand the thought process behind it, and share my views on art. The decision to make the whole series available only through unique pieces means each artwork is 100% exclusive, which is my way of rewarding those who understand my work fully and decide to be part of this project by purchasing one of the pieces. Following the same logic, I decided to release the series as embellished giclée on canvas, rather than print, and to produce the artwork in larger size than my previous work”
You have expressed very strong views in support of digital art, in both your work and in other interviews. What role does it have in this series, and could you have achieved the same result had you chosen a different medium?
“Digital art has a very important role in this series. The transformation of the original artwork and, in a sense, its transportation to modern times is only possible because of the specific techniques I use. For this series I have utilised expressions and techniques that typically belong to digital art. I began with the artwork’s image, worked on each piece on my Mac, and then reproduced each piece onto canvas by using high quality ink and, in some cases, physical embellishments such as acrylic paint, pencil, or, in some cases, pen. And to go back to your question – no, I would have never been able to convey the message I wanted to if I had chosen a different genre of art to create this series”
The work generates a strong reaction. Would it be fair to assume you were aiming to create an important visual contrast?
“Yes, it was looking to invoke a strong reaction in the viewers. And most importantly, to continue the conversation I started with my work about the results of merging digital art with a more conservative form of the discipline. In the Neo Urban Classic series I combined the beauty of classic art with what is sometimes viewed as an almost anti-aesthetic form of visual representation (in this case graffiti and tattoos). The merging of the two creates a strong contrast that invites the viewer to reflect upon the effects of the passing of time; inevitably leading to the death and re-birth of values according to historical period, values that are often connected, and contributing factors to artistic expressions”
It sounds like Neo Urban Classic has a specific message, perhaps one that you have always tried to express through your work?
“Absolutely. This new series is based upon the strongest message I try to convey through my work; which is that art is not to represent new things, but to represent with novelty. My art is a celebration of artistic expressions from all historical periods and movements, with the important contribution of the new technologies we dispose of today as contemporary artists of our time. In this collection I explored our past by incorporating it into our present, and that is what makes it so special to me”