Interview with Nicola Samori, an exclusive reprint from the archives of Manner of Man Magazine


Interview with Nicola Samorì

Nicola Samori.  Image by Michela Ravaglia.


This exclusive interview with artist Nicola Samorì was conducted in Bagnacavallo, Italy by Nicola Linza and Cristoffer Neljesjö during July 2017.



What inspired you to become an artist?

The desire to possess non existing toys, which I began to build myself, and the (rituals of the) Masses in the Romanesque Parish church in the small village where I spent my childhood.

However, as I said before – the rise of painting in my imagination occurred when I saw for the first time a rabbit being skinned. That gesture of rupturing the integrity, by which the inside is exposed to the outside and the skin is overturned, that same gesture I keep repeating each time I bring a painting into the world.


Are you self-taught?

There is no (living) master significant to my evolution, I regard myself as self-taught.

I am often criticised for being academic, but nowadays the academy no longer exists and my relationship with tradition is a form of freedom and detachment from the mannerism of contemporary arts schools which procrastinate the divorce between hand and mind.

The absence of a guide fed my absurd dream/vision of being all of the hands of history, it transformed me into a “pittogafo” - devourer of images - groping in the history of the arts devouring images from Guido Reni, Hans Memling, Francesco Hayez, Andrea Sacchi, Cesare da Sesto, Kazimir Malevich, Lovis Corinth, José de Ribera, ecc.


How would you describe your art and style?

It is the search of the point of no return of the figurative form and the answer to the question: how long does an image resist (opposes) its own disappearance?

I endanger the forms derived from Western culture history, dense and repetitive expressions which inhabit, sometimes unconsciously, our imaginary. The laceration of the depicted body and the pictorial surface become an uninterrupted continuum; the birth of a new work of art seems to always involve the disappearance of an earlier one. 

Other times the action is more discreet and “I release the signs I received”, as Warburg loved to say. Pouring out a heritage, which is not just an archive of memory but rather a ritual transmission, forging unforgettable idols which mislead time instead of witnessing it, is another pillar of my process.


Your work is beautifully disturbing, as if God and Satan are simultaneously leading your hands. The work appears to reference artists like Cimabue, Rembrandt, and Francis Bacon, with a mix of Pier Paolo Pasolini, and the horror found at the hands of Ed Gein.  What are the reactions when people see your work for the first time?

Some fall in love with these distraught people of mine, others find them uncanny. Every time I witness a strong polarization perhaps because I, too–like the authors I quoted–try to communicate with the nervous system of those who encounter my work.

Such reactions keep confirming the same contradiction that inhabits my doing: I have always had a care and fury relationship with those who preceded me - on one hand I take care of the slow creation of forms, but on the other hand I’m ready to dismantle all that work in few seconds following an aggressive instinct. I scrupulously seek the manners of the old masters in order to murder them, in an artistic act of cannibalism. I am fascinated by the idea of the artist as a violator of images, even before being their own originator; “imaginifragus” as Thomas Netter defined around 1400, is he who calls idols the (holy) pictures and destroys them.

Yet only an intensive cult of the form can generate such an abuse and that is precisely what has been happening in my painting for years; in my work the body of painting is nourished day after day, fattened up, looked after and suddenly ripped apart, mutilated and violated. Just as a pig is being taken care of in order to serve the purpose of feeding, as it happens in a typical ritual of the region I come from.  


Darkness is a prevailing genre is there a reason for it?

I keep losing my battle against light, so darkness prevails. This does not mean I do not wish to recreate the mineral world, crystalline and the lights of Italian painting of the XV century. However, every time I strive to enter into those perspective boxes, the light extinguishes itself and the baroque bedlam kicks off.


What is it about the Baroque that fascinates you?

Baroque art transformed the skin of painting into a tactile phenomenon, something a blind person could read with his/her fingertips. This protrusion mesmerizes me, just like the theatre of martyrs is an immense specimen of ecstasy, ready to be sacrificed to my coup de grâce.


The paintings are built in layers that are build up and then degraded, does this relate to the human condition?

Of course; I named one of my exhibitions La pittura è cosa mortale, “Painting is a mortal thing”, highlighting how the biology of art runs parallel to that of the body, more often than ever it is lazy, sometimes faster. And if oil painting has been invented to narrate the flesh, I do not see how paintings cannot be considered complex simulacrum of our own body.

I count the days passing by on my works, and they act as keeper of time thus restoring the sense of duration. Every work is a form of vanitas, similar to an hourglass; its harmony grows with the aging of my body and it has the power to evoke - repulse - death.


To see such a high-level genius is very rare today, do you feel people truly understand your art?

Every time art has appeared it generated incomprehension; a time shift is always necessary to read things with clarity and this happens when the taste of the epoch calms itself down.

I do not have the arrogance to be thoroughly understood; it suffices me to be adulated because, as the dwarf created by Pär Lagerkvist stated; “man needs to be adulated; otherwise he will never become what he is destined to become, not even to his own eyes”.


The above interview with Nicola Samorì 2017 © Manner of Man Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.