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Daniele Fortuna

Artist Spotlight

Art can make you see the world in a different way – it can give you something better or worse – the important thing is that it gives you something.

Growing up in Italy, Daniele Fortuna had always been fascinated by the figures of ancient mythology and the dream-worlds they represent. Today, he brings these childhood heroes to life and gives them a third dimension in the form of intricate wooden sculptures with a splash of contemporary color.


His unique statues consist of individual pieces of wood that are cut by hand, assembled like a puzzle and hand-painted, transforming the material beyond recognition. His sculptures establish a connection, a bridge over time, between elements of traditional Italian art and pop-art expression.

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INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST


Q. What inspired you to transform classical figures into wooden sculptures?

A. Since I was a child, I have always been fascinated by mythological figures. They allowed me to dream and to imagine other worlds. Recreating them in a modern medium and setting is a way to make these figures that I have always loved come to life. 


Q. Elements of ancient Roman & Greek tradition and figures of pop culture are often combined in your works. What would you like to achieve by bringing these two seemingly contradictory influences into a dialogue?

A. My work often represents classical and neoclassical figures in order to not forget the vast artistic history and legacy from which we come. Often, we only recognize this when we go to museums. My intent in using these figures is to ‘popularize’ something that has always been considered intellectually superior and, as some may perceive it, to desecrate something ethereal.

Q. Your pieces feature exceptionally bright colors – sometimes even glitter, what is your goal in this juxtaposition between classical images and modern elements?

A. Using these colors on classical sculptures represents the importance of seeing the world in color - that is, appreciating every shade of color that life gives us. Colour has a big impact on our mood, so if we have the possibility to use different colors it would be foolish to waste them.

Q. Are there any specific figures you’ve portrayed that really speak to you personally?

A. The figures that speak to me are the gods and heroes of Greek and Roman culture. Each of them has a unique personality dictated by what they represent, and, in some ways, I feel like each trait they represent is part of my personality as well. Apollo, for example, represents the sun, which stands for the energy and joy in me, Venus represents my feminine side, Athena stands for my strong feeling for justice, Zeus for wisdom, Neptune embodies the desire to travel, even if it is only in my mind, Hercules my strength to fight - in fact, each of my subjects represent some small part of me.

Q. Could you tell us a bit about your artistic process? How do you get from the initial concept to the three-dimensional end result?

 A. My artistic process begins at night; when I start to travel in my mind and to think about what I could create. At night, there are no distractions, and the silence and the darkness help me think. In the morning when I wake up, I begin by drawing, creating outlines of the different layers that make up the sculpture. I then transfer this to plywood boards and start cutting. Finally, I assemble the sculpture and paint it. In the end, I always achieve exactly what I imagined at night.

Q. Some of your recent pieces have a neutral color on the outside but are broken open, as it were, to reveal a rainbow of color on the inside. What was your concept behind these sculptures?

A. The Colormination series is about a form of expression that comes from deep within and is then turned outward. Generally, neoclassicist sculptures were made of white marble because it was a valuable material and considered a symbol of wealth and power. However, as I picture it, those white marble sculptures are full of color on the inside. One could say that their ‘true soul’ is colorful. 

Q. What would you like your work to evoke in the viewer?

A. First and foremost, I would like my work to evoke the love that I feel in creating these sculptures. I'd like it to convey joy and happiness, but I also aim to employ the therapeutic effects of shape and color. If you see an object that gives you a positive feeling, you yourself will feel good as a result. 

Q. Could you tell us a bit about your mirror pieces?

A. I was intrigued by the fact that the spectator could see himself reflected inside a mythological figure and feel like he's part of it. Every time they look at the piece, the reflection will be different and a new scenario will play out inside the mirror.

Q. Which other creatives inspire you?

A. With the rise of Instagram, we can now find inspiration in the work of artists from all around the world. These online encounters, most likely, unconsciously influence my vision of art, as an artist must always look around him at what else is going.

When it comes to famous names, however, I am inspired by the hypnotic blue of Yves Klein, I find ingenuity in the compositions of Ugo Rondinone, and I love the colors of artists like Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami.

Q. What is an achievement you are proud of?

A. I am proud of my artistic journey and of my creative research. Every day I try to evolve and every day I try to reach out internationally, to connect with people from all over the world through my work.

Q. How do you feel about the increased accessibility that comes with selling art online? Has it influenced your life as an artist?

A. I think that online sales have made the impossible possible. The fact that you can buy artworks from anywhere in the world is something extraordinary - the faraway has become close. It has given my creativity a boost and fuels my work.

Q. What would you still like to achieve as an artist?

A. I would like to attain the opportunity to one-day influence people around the world in a positive way and to be able to help young artists grow as I have had the opportunity to do.

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