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Blog | 01.03.2024

Interview with Lorenzo Tonda

Lorenzo Tonda is a young artist from Italy specialised on paintings, murals, 3D graphics and sculptural works. Together with artist Federico Niccolai he created a new street art mural in the Samb Modou and Diop Mor Gardens in the San Jacopino neighbourhood of Florence. The artwork addresses the issue of community integration and shows a banquet held outdoors.

Instagram: @tondalorenzo

How did you get into your current profession? 
I studied painting and fresco painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, and participated in the numerous public art projects promoted by Prof. Vinciguerra. Later, I became interested in the vast world of 3D graphics, sensing its functional design advantages to the work of a muralist. I had the opportunity to deepen the creative possibilities of classical painting in relation to the new 3D technologies in Rome, collaborating with the artist Nicola Verlato. In 2017 I painted a mural in Trencin, Slovakia, for the city's art museum, but it is with the San Jacopino Mural that I consider my career as a muralist to have begun. 

How does the preparation of a project take place? How long does a project take on average? 
The duration of the process depends on the specific requirements of the location and wall. In my work, the design phase takes as much time as the execution phase. The final artwork is the interplay of these two equally important moments: the first occurs in the studio, a safe space for experimentation, while the second happens directly on the wall, involving setting up a construction site with clear ideas in mind. In the case of the San Jacopino mural, the entire painting was first created in 3D using various software, including a 3D scanner. This technology organized the composition of figures, lights, and overall architecture down to the smallest detail based on the human perspective on the garden wall. The execution phase begins only after finalizing the project, including a 1:1 detailed sketch. It starts with preparing the wall, often applying a general plaster, where the design is transferred using cardboard templates before painting. The time needed for each phase depends on the size of the work but more so on the complexity of the depicted theme. For San Jacopino, a mural covering approximately 50 square meters with a large arched colonnade and 35 figures, execution spanned four months from August to November, with a similar timeframe allocated for planning.

What are the main difficulties? 
Each work phase comes with its own set of challenges: Plastering requires a lot of physical energy and is crucial for the painting's future as it defines the surface it adheres to. Transferring the templates might seem mechanical and relaxing, but it demands high concentration. All the necessary information to simulate the spatial nature of the subjects must be found in the simple line outlining the forms. Painting is undoubtedly the most stressful but also the most enjoyable phase; this is where everything is decided. In the design phase, the creative core of the work, ideas are unleashed, and creativity is guided rationally. The challenge in this phase is to create the most functional image for the specific wall, considering its architectural presence in the space. My work aims to strengthen the concept of Genius loci, the soul of the place, to be respected, admired, and glorified through art.

What has been your biggest and/or most beautiful project so far? 
Without a doubt, the Mural of San Jacopino, in which I was able to put to good use the results of about ten years of study in the artistic field. 

What was the biggest challenge ever? Do you ever find yourself wishing you had a different job at times?
The biggest challenge is to find the right opportunities where you can give maximum vent to the creative possibilities of painting, it is not easy today to find an enlightened client who is looking for something unique, who places himself in the perspective of a fruitful and dialectical exchange with the artist, and who at the same time leaves reasonable freedom of experimentation: these are all preconditions,  these, which contribute to the creation of unique works for the places that host them and for the people who live there. Creating a synergy with the client is essential. Despite the difficulties, I never hesitate: I just want to make great art projects for many places, which involve great efforts and monumental solutions. 

What is the feeling you get when a work of art is completed? 
That emptiness is created that the breaking of any routine causes, if then in these repeated actions for a long time you pour all of yourself, without pause, you risk a strong emotional down that forces you to start again immediately, usually increasing your ambitions. To tell the truth, I must admit that there is no better feeling than knowing that you have created something important for a place, a culture or a community, and that you have affirmed an incidence that, with its presence, can help to shake things up and materially change. 

How does it feel when a piece of artwork is completed?
The completion of an artwork creates a void, breaking any established routine. When engrossed in repetitive actions for an extended period without a break, there's a risk of experiencing a profound emotional downturn. This compels one to start afresh immediately, typically heightening ambitions. Honestly, I must admit that there's no better feeling than knowing you've created something significant for a place, culture, or community. It confirms an event that can contribute to stirring things up and effecting material change.

What would your dream project look like if you could choose?
That's a challenging question. I believe a theme park would be a wonderful career prospect, where sculpture and painting aim to create an idealized reality that completely occupies the space. Thinking of an equivalent in art history, the Vigeland Park in Oslo comes to mind, a place I haven't had the chance to visit yet.

What do you appreciate most about your job?
The best aspect of my job is our ability to tackle significant technical challenges, attempting to solve some of the most pressing human issues. This includes the endeavor to make the places we inhabit not only livable but also stimulating for our minds and eyes.

What motivates you to choose our colors? 
KEIM colors serve as a viable alternative to the fresco technique when it's not feasible. The dry application significantly simplifies wall painting execution, while the robust siliceous mineral bond with the underlying plaster ensures unparalleled stability and solidity for the artwork. Additionally, from an aesthetic standpoint, Keim colors present advantages as they undergo the classic mineral bleaching during the drying phase. This softens the painting's shades, making them ideal for urban art settings where overly vibrant colors might clash with nature's hues. In a garden context, the subtle brilliance of earth tones, blues, and reds that don't overwhelm the wall becomes a pivotal factor in harmonizing the artwork with its natural surrounding 

What is your favorite KEIM product? 
So far I've only worked with the KEIM Soldalit line, but I'd like to try the KEIM Design-Lasur for achieving a more transparent appearance.

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