"I love excess. I’m such a fan of unnecessary things! This realization helps me a lot to live a more enjoyable life."

Italian artist Jacques Salerno is a designer, performer, painter and visual artist. Working from her studio in a gorgeous vacation town in Tuscany, the artist’s goal is to channel her obsession with old Hollywood glamour. She is inspired by the opulence of the eighties and invites the viewer to enjoy an updated take on the traditional idea of excess. Her goal is to make people aware of the beauty of the things that surround them.

 

The artist in her studio.

 

INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST

Q. Could you tell us a bit about your various educations and how they have shaped your artistic practice?

A. I started when I was young. I attended the art institute and then I went to the fine arts academy to study Painting and Visual Art. These studies gave me the opportunity to develop my creative thinking as well as a lot of time for experimentation. I have worked with many different media: performance, photography, and fashion, but painting was always my favorite tool to express the beauty of life.

 

Art.

Art, 2022
Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas

 

Q. You pursue a very broad range of forms of artistic expression - design, performance, and visual art - are all these different practices connected for you or do they exist quite separately from one another?

A. I think that everything I create is connected with the other art forms. I just can’t divide all these things. Who we are is a result of many different intersections between languages, and art is no exception.

 

In the studio of Jacques Salerno.

 

Q. Could you tell us a bit more about your thesis and how this subject finds its way into your work?

A. My thesis was based on the anatomy of pleasure and contemporary sexual landscapes. It also tells a lot about LGBTQ + rights. I personally think that sex is power and sexually empowered people tend to be empowered in every other aspect of their life. When I talk about sexuality, I mostly talk about the freedom to be what you want to be and to do what makes you happy - to have the freedom to do whatever you want with your body. This is an issue that is very personal to me, as I am a non-binary person. My art is a celebration of an important and positive part of my life, because every person deserves to feel beautiful and safe in everyday life.

 

Pool day.

Pool Day, 2022
Acrylic and Markers on Canvas

 

Q. You have cited old Hollywood glamour as one of your sources of inspiration, what appeal does this era hold for you?

A. I love the idea of beauty behind this era. I have always been inspired by old Hollywood stars and movies. I love wonderful and silly things, and everyday I go out in my best outfits; I just think “Why not go out in the city with your best dress, if that’s how I feel beautiful that day?” In fact, my ideal creative space Is more like a mix between 40’s and 80’s movie sets. As Zsa Zsa Gabor said “One lifetime is not enough” so I try to live mine to the fullest.

 

A work in progress.

 

Q. You work in an extremely vibrant palette, reminiscent of Pop Art and the 80s, what would you like this exuberant use of colours to evoke?

A. I would like to make people smile when they look at my artworks. I don’t want to live life too seriously. Life can be terribly hard, so I select the most vibrant shades to have a positive impact on the emotions. I want to bring some relaxation to the viewer. We are so busy looking outwards that we don’t take the time to enjoy where we are. So let’s take the time to revel in the little beautiful things around us.

 

Red lobster.

Red Lobster, 2022
Acrylic and Markers on Canvas

 

Q. What role does the notion of excess play in your work?

A. I love excess. I’m such a fan of unnecessary things! This realization helps me a lot to live a more enjoyable life. In my studio I have a lot of vintage designer pieces, like my heavy onyx brush holders, and when the sun is too strong for my sensitive eyes I close my velvet curtains. Personally, I think that the most important thing for an artist is their creative space, because when you walk into it you have to feel comfortable to experiment and to form an idea without feeling pressured by the judgment of others.

 

A few smaller works.

 

Q. You live and work in a vacation town in Tuscany, does your environment have an impact on your work?

A. I am very much influenced by the bright colour palette of my city in summer. 

I like walking early in the morning to see the sea, the vibrant colours of the bathing establishments, people having an iced coffee in the shadows of the palm trees, and sports cars racing down the street. Everything is so inspiring, it’s like I live in a fabulous movie set.

Unicorn.

Unicorn, 2022
Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas

 

Q. Your work often focuses in high detail on the everyday spaces we occupy and the things we surround ourselves with, what is your goal in choosing these things as your subject matter?

A. My goal is to create an easily understandable language. I want my message to reach those who enjoy my work in a very clear and undiluted way. For me, details are fundamental because they are what makes the difference between something forgettable and something unforgettable.

 

A work in context.

 

Q. How has being an artist impacted your life?

A. It’s amazing, but I never had a “Ah-ha!” moment, like: “your are an artist now”. For as long as I can remember, this is just the thing I can do. I can’t sing or dance, so I just concentrate my attention on something I can do well. Painting is a good tool to communicate with other people in the world and I can’t imagine devoting my life to anything else. I just think: “Don’t do anything you don’t want to do.” Obviously, this probably shouldn’t be applied to unavoidable responsibilities such as paying the internet bill or waking up in the morning. However, I live by this when it comes to creative projects.

 

Donuts.

Donuts, 2022
Acrylic and Markers on Canvas

 

Q. Which other creatives do you admire?

A. I have a very wide range of creative people that I admire. like Andy Wharol with his factory, David Hockney and Pater Sato, both for their use of very powerful bright colour palettes. But I also love some living artists like Tony Kelly with his eccentric interpretation of everyday life and Nadia Lee Cohen, an amazing artist heavily inspired by American cinema, particularly that of the 1960’s and 70’s. And I adore the visuals, sets, and costumes of the technicolour films, so I have to say that Tony Duquette was a genius.

  

Q. Could you describe your work in three words?

A. Funny - Fabulous - Colourful

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