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With the voice of a poet, Maestro Giulio Menossi speaks here about what inspires him as an artist working in mosaic. His ouevre is characterized by elegant, sweeping structural arcs always emblazoned with color, color, color. There is a joie de vivre and playfulness here derived from slashes of color that look like they could have been made by crayons and his completely uncensored use of materials. Lego pieces snuggle up to pearls; smalti and marble provide the background for a bunch of twigs. What life! What fun!
Born in Udine, a small town in northeast Italy, Menossi moved to Milan at the age of 18 where he began three years of tutelage under mosaic maestro Domenico Coledani. In the early 1970s, Menossi broadened his mosaic expertise at Crovatto Mosaics in New York. In 1976, he returned to his beloved Udine to establish his own studio where, in addition to completing commissions, he developed his own rich and expressive mosaic technique.
This article first appeared in Mosaïque Magazine n°4. We are grateful to the magazine’s publishers and Maestro Menossi for the opportunity to reprint it here on MAN. We highly recommend the magazine which now comes with an English translation insert. Ordering information is in the Resources portion at the end of this article. Enjoy – Nancie
To Transform Emotions into Colour
(Translation from Italian to French by Dominque Annarelli. Translation into English by Sophie Drouin)
I was born on a well-bordered land and grew up among mulberry trees and fields of herbs, walking the land of my ancestors and breathing in the wind coming from the sea.
I had the good luck to meet a good Teacher, a Master, along the way. He raised me, shaped me, and prepared me for the colourful road I was about to take. Nothing was easy. The Master, the tears, my stubborn will to go on. I learned the ancient art of finely shaped tesserae, and fought every day with my desire to go back home to my mulberries.
37 years ago, I came back to this land of barbarian invasions, of antique cities, of perfumed wines, and I live here passionately. Nothing tells the story of an artist better than his own works. For those able to see it, there is the story of a long road. As with all lengthy paths, mine had its share of heroic and tragic adventures and escapes, meetings, rests, smiles, tears, dreams and nightmares.
My fingers have run through millions of tesserae. I have created harmonious tales from shards of glass, I have robbed snowflakes to use their crystals, handled strange materials, crumbled colourful marble, trying to tell a story.
When for the sake of a commission, I had to replicate famous works, I did not waver in front of the colours. I copied, learning from the Masters, I tried to remove myself fro the process, simply applying technique. And when the right moment came, the colours would flow out by themselves.
Then, like a springtime stream fed by the rains, the forces of colour toppled everything. It modified ancient ways, creating new sensations, amplifying, stirring new energies.
After many years, I am still working and playing with heart and spirit. It is the most wonderful gift I could ever dream of. After vanquishing the fear of colour, of large-scale works, slowly I felt growing in me a consciousness, deliberately affirming its will. My mosaics were not merely copies anymore, but constructs with very precise foundations, they were spaces where I could feel comfortable and free to improvise.
Today, I am absolutely sure of this one thing: how I must build my new mosaics.
And everything comes to me spontaneously, without drawings, sketching, or preparation, before ; I can simply paint with glass.
To transform emotions into colours which go where my heart wants to send them, in a completely improvisational manner.
With these dynamic mosaics of mine, discovery awaits every time, even for me.
The first signs come during the creation of the substrate which starts pulling me in a flow of sensations, dreams, and harmonies of shapes.
The sculptural substrate lives in its own aura of light, and would survive well even without the addition of the bright mosaic additions.
I open my windows to light, doors long kept shut, I travel dark dusty corridors opening curtains and screens, I seek to fill every hidden angle, to flood the darkness with brilliant light.
The dynamic mosaics represent for me at the same time a starting point and a finish line, an arrival. An arrival because because after a life spent walking on shards of glass and pricking my fingers, now I can say that I have accomplished one of my dreams. Arrival because I wanted to see movement in mosaic, colour, tesserae, shapes….now everything is in motion, alive !
It is a starting point because I have still so many dreams, like children who must be caught in the act, or flights to be fancied.
Starting point because dynamism is life, space to be filled, momentum, the contrast between light and shadow.
And so the mosaic has become the living thing, and the art becomes one with the person who experiences it. Someone viewing it, and changing the angle of view by even a single step, transforms the art into something new.
He or she becomes ART as well.
My path has led me as far as this ! Where will I go from here, if and how ? I do not know. I only know that this marvellous art form offers a wondrous creative experience, a beautiful metaphor for life.
Giulio Menossi March 2012
- Website for Giulio Menossi http://www.menossimosaici.com/
- Website for Mosaique Magazine http://www.mosaiquemagazine.eu/
If you liked this article, we highly recommend this edition of Mosaïque which also includes articles on Pascale Beauchamps, Valeria Ercolani, Jérome Gulon, CaCO3, Verdiano Marzi, Elaine Goodwin, ancient mosaics, the history of smalti and much more.