“In a specific moment where cities are damaged, we have to rethink them with their best image”
Cities belong to us. But what does city mean? It certainly means many things, but the first word that came to our mind is people. Because we make cities alive, without people, there are just buildings with no soul. Jacopo Ascari knows that, and that’s why in his artworks people stories are connected with the city. In his paintings everything is mixed, it is impossible to remove any part. So architecture becomes fashion, fashion becomes public space and the map becomes sky.
Tell us about your journey to becoming an artist, how did it start?
I was born in Modena but I was raised in Milan in an artistic, stimulating and creative environment. I got a degree cum laude in Urban Planning at the Politecnico di Milano. But I knew that Art exhibitions were my true passion, so I moved to Venice and I started working for the Biennale Arte, in the department of visual art and architecture. After two years I moved back to Milan and I worked for a contemporary art studio. Then the lockdown came and I simply realized that I wanted to be an artist, so I started some collaborations with different brands and architecture studios. At that moment my aesthetic was coming out: I am obsessed with details while drawing. So, I quit my job and I opened my own studio. During the same days, a Gallery saw my artworks and asked me to realize a new project dedicated to the city. And that’s how Ascari Atelier Milano was born. A project that combines urban design with Milan, a place where unique fashion stories are born.
You are very passionate about fashion, and it is present in your artworks. Your drawings are a place where all your interests are collected…
I love drawing sketches where there are no sections. Where architecture becomes fashion, fashion becomes public space and the map becomes sky. Everything is so interconnected in the big cities like Milan. I wanted to tell that story, where it is simply impossible to remove any part.
While drawing, what do you imagine?
I have some many mentors and everything begins leafing through their catalogs. Painters, architects and designers such as Giorgio de Chirico, Massimiliano Fuksas, Franco Moschino, Rossella Iardini and Donatella Versace. While I am drawing, I think about them, about their extraordinary stories and I try to evoke their immense talent. Then something comes up.
In your artworks there are so many role models and connections, sometimes even a little bit complicated to understand at first glance. Do you think that those who buy your works are able to grasp your narrative?
Yes, I certainly do. I think the first experiment, which was Atelier Ascari Milano, reached the audience. Now we have to see for the next one.
Talking about your collaborations, where you have a client with a brief, how is making your job linked to customers needs?
Actually, it is very funny and interesting. When the client sees an emotional involvement, a conversation will start. And, with this dialogue, you become part of the client’s story. And I think that this is very fascinating. You are a storyteller.
Art is moving so fast and NFTs have arrived…
Yes, and as a matter of fact, a Gallery from Lugano proposed to me to realize one with my artworks. They saw my exhibit and would like to animate my drawings. It’s definitely something new and interesting, but I love drawing, so I am still thinking about it.
While walking around cities, have you ever seen squares that are not very functional for living?
There are so many squares that are not functional for living. I love redrawing them, giving them a new map. For example there is an artwork in my last exhibition, “Destino dell’urbanistica”, where I redrew Piemonte square. This place is very chaotic, there is underground parking and there are not many green areas. In my artwork, I imagined it as a square where you can lie down with a postmodern artwork in the middle.
What can you tell about your last work entitled “Destino dell’urbanistica”
This exhibition is an illustrated study that leads us to reflect on the relationship between man and his environment, and the role of the architect in the contemporary world. Elpada studio, a real estate research firm that rediscovers hidden places in Milan, asked me to think about a site-specific installation to present their new project “Ville Urbane”. For this site-specific exhibit I focused on nowadays, a complex period in many ways. I started working on this project in April, when we were constantly watching images of destroyed cities on TV, because of the war in Ukraine. Looking at these pictures, where cities were damaged, I thought about the different spheres of urban life. I worked on different sketches that tell the different dimensions of Milan. For example we have leisure time, represented by the Arena in Parco Sempione and then there is the residential dimension with Libeskind’s buildings. And again Piazza Piemonte, which I mentioned before, then the religious dimension, the hospital and the political one. I started from these sketches and then I made 2×2m paintings. These artworks are placed inside the ‘Ville Urbane’ building site and are positioned creating an ideal city in which you can walk around. In a specific moment where cities are damaged, we have to rethink them with their best image.
You have also so many collaborations, can you give us a preview?
During Design Week I will collaborate with Alessandro Enriquez. He designed a bed collection for Vispring and he asked me to create 15 boards inspired by dreams to support the presentation. Regarding Men’s Fashion Week I will collaborate with Moreschi for the launch of the new collection.
Interview : Flavio Marcelli
Photos : Ludovica Arcero