“Painting for me is a necessity. I have always done everything possible to keep that sphere uncontaminated”
AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?
AK: I have been living in Milan for a few years but I was born in Trieste where, when I was a child, my mother was a ceramist and my father painted and engraved for passion. I don’t remember a specific starting point but I do remember that I used to spend most of my time drawing or with my parents in their artistic work. At the age of thirteen, I was introduced to the world of graffiti, but it didn’t really suit me. The environment was dogmatic at that moment, only letterings and a few stylized heads were accepted. I never liked the design of the pieces: proposing something already solved on paper for me was a useless repetition. Painting in the studio, on the other hand, has its moments, even though I still prefer and like to paint on walls from time to time.
AT: When did it become serious?
AK: I never considered what I now call artistic practice as a hobby, even when I was a child. Indeed, for me, it has always been a necessity, a way to communicate and relate to each other. And thanks to this deep seriousness, I was able to transform this daily practice into a playful and meditative moment.
AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?
AK: There have been and there are many important people in my path. They might not be linked in any way to the art world but have forged my ethics regarding work. Friends, teachers, work colleagues, and of course, some people from the art world who have built with me what is now my world.
AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?
AK: I don’t have a defined process in producing work. I don’t do preparatory sketches and, if by chance I do, I hardly follow them. I generally start by creating some colours, a mixture of materials which, based on its characteristics, I apply on the supports in a different way each time. Anything could happen simply by starting with a bucket, a grid or a thin trace, just as it can happen that, in the frenzy of work, that material ends up on other works that have already begun. I like to explore and experiment with the characteristics of the materials I use, even at the cost of completely altering the work that I considered already finished.
Pierre, 2018, Phenolic plywood, household paint, enamel, PVA glue, pigments, shellac, Variable dimensions.
AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?
AK: I am not satisfied until the work presents something unexpected, something that is out of my control. If in the end, I have the impression that I didn’t do it myself, even better. I like off-balanced works, which it might seem that something is not quite right, some friction within them, or in the relationship with the surrounding works.
AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?
AK: My passion is worn brushes, even better if they’re from someone else. But let’s say, for my attitude, I find myself using anything from plastic bottles, pieces of wood, cutlery to plates and jars sauce dispensers…Over the past 15 years, I have painted on a variety of mediums, although now I have narrowed down the possibilities and paint almost exclusively on unprepared cotton canvas.
AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?
AK: I am surrounded by various works scattered on the floor and placed on the walls around me in my studio. I can simply start painting by entering the scene. I turn on the music and begin to establish a dialogue with the materials. The sessions are often very fast and very intense, and almost always distort the previous session, while I spend observing, following the occurrences for the rest of the time. I like to put the spokes in the wheels, do the least sensible thing because only in this way, I can get out of the expectations that automatically arise.
AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?
AK: A finished work, to me, is one that has something surprising, strange and somehow elusive. It is, as I said, beyond my control. Then, if it remains in my presence in the studio, I end up understanding and internalizing the work to the point of getting tired of it. Then the work can be worked again until it finds another limitation, and thus potentially to infinity. The moment the work leaves my studio, this flow stops and therefore, the work can be defined as concluded.
Untitled (BLAC ILID), 2020, Mixed media on raw cotton, 180x170x3 cm
Untitled, 2020, Mixed media on raw cotton, 107x98x3 cm
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?
AK: The sources from which I draw are countless. But I’m not attracted so much by images as by the possibility of recreating dynamics similar to those I have observed through my practice. I observe myself while I work, my gestures and my repertoire of mixtures and attempts to reproduce them in an ever more effective and conscious way. This attitude often triggers further unforeseen circumstances, which in turn I indulge because they become a source of inspiration for the next steps. And I do the same with the world around me, whether they are natural phenomena or found objects, works of art or human relationships. In this way, everything is potentially inspiring to me, capable of being understood and absorbed in my practice and research.
AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?
AK: There are many artists who have influenced me. In the course of my life, I have accumulated many just as many have gone. Nevertheless, what fascinates me about an artist is the ability to give space to the needs of his/her work at a level that makes it autonomous, perhaps with an inattentive and contradictive vision. To name a few in no particular order, for example of Giulio Turcato, Lee Lozano, Dieter Roth or Sigmar Polke but also of Lorenzo Lotto, Henri Michaux, Jonathan Meese, Alex Olson, Mike Nelson, Jaqueline Humphries and Helio Oiticica. Watching them excites me and stimulates me to move forward. It is true that, in today’s art, concepts such as cover or tribute are not always viewed highly, moreover it is benefiting an unhealthy idea of originality. But I think that the tribute to the masters is always intrinsic in the work of every artist.
AT: How important is the role of social media for you?
AK: Social media is definitely a necessary tool nowadays, especially considering this past year of global isolation and despair. However, they cannot make up for the direct use of art as well as its reality. They are connected but distinct plans, from which, with the right distance, they can develop multiple possibilities.
Rolango I (rme-langs), 2018, Mixed media on canvas, 80×60 cm
Untitled, 2018, Mixed media on canvas, 30×20 cm
AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?
AK: The art world, or perhaps culture in wider terms, is suffering and distracted with regard to young art in Italy particularly, as is, consequently, the gallery system. Personally, I would like to see independent projects, perhaps managed by the artists themselves, that acquire an increasingly true importance in the Italian art scene and beyond.
AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
AK: For years, I have understood that in order to be happy and proud of my work as an artist, my research would not have had to compromise. Painting for me is a necessity, I have always done everything possible to keep that sphere uncontaminated.
AT: What do you do besides art?
AK: To keep my artistic research independent, I do various works related or not to the art world. I spend almost entirely in the studio for the rest of the time, listening to music, studying and discussing with artist friends and more.
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
AK: The career of an artist needs a solid yet flexible foundation to be incisive in the present as well as in the future. Continuing to research, to push my work beyond expectations, is what I try to do every day. I am convinced that attention to the intensity and quality of the work in the present is the basis on which the future of the work can be built.
BLAC ILID. Exhibition view at Fondazione smART, Roma 2021
Andrea Kvas (b. 1986) is an Italian painter currently living and working in Milan, Italy. His work blends a playful and instinctive approach to painting with an analysis and reconsideration of the codes that distinguish this discipline. His pictorial research requires different patterns of use that have led him to find different inter led him to find different intersections with sculptural, relational and curatorial practices.