Interview with Chiachio & Giannone

“La Familia En La Fontana Di Trevi”, Hand embroidery with cotton thread on fabric 1.10 x 1.70 m, Copyright Chiachio&Giannone

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

Leo Chiachio and Daniel Giannone are a brilliant couple of Latin American artists who create artworks of strong visual impact working with multiple media including hand embroidery, textile mosaic, painting and porcelain. The iconography of their works recalls traditional motifs redefined in a contemporary and ironic key, with the aim of questioning the principles of separation between art and craftsmanship and the rigid social stereotypes
Leo and Daniel abandon oils and acrylics and choose embroidery to create “paintings” with needles and threads recalling, at the same time, the gestural imprint of the pictorial language.
Their works have been exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions in Argentina, United States, Europe and China, obtaining important international awards.
Below is a link to the artists’ website:

http://www.chiachiogiannone.com/

Can you tell us how and why you started your artistic career in textile art?
We are Chiachio&Giannone, an artist who has two heads and four hands composed by Leo Chiachio (1969) and Daniel Giannone (1964). Our academic knowledge is in painting but since 2003, when we met and started to be a couple in life and in art, we decided to start working with other techniques such as embroidery. It was at this time that we began to change the brushes, oils and acrylics for the needles, threads and scissors. Our intention is to translate the knowledge in painting to the textile, that is to say, the handling of the color with threads and needles.

“Calaverita”, Hand embroidery with cotton thread and jewerly effect on fabric Alexander Henry© 1,10 x 1,40 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

“Calaverita”, detail – Hand embroidery with cotton thread and jewerly effect on fabric Alexander Henry© 1,10 x 1,40 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

Embroidery is the language you have chosen as your main technique to express your poetics.  Can you talk about it?

We are interested in embroidery as a technique because it allows us to apply all our knowledge in the handling of color. We are interested in handmade embroidery because the texture we achieve is not the same as what we would achieve if we made it by machine. We are also interested in taking over a trade like the embroidery that in Latin America was relegated to the feminine world. We are two men working together who use the language of embroidery to express our ideas.  We are also lovers of manual works.

“Selva Blanca”, Hand embroidery with cotton threads, wool, rayon and jewelry effect threads on fabric – 4,60 x 2,85 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

“Selva Blanca”, detail – Hand embroidery with cotton threads, wool, rayon and jewelry effect threads on fabric – 4,60 x 2,85 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

Do you use traditional techniques and materials or do you prefer to experiment with unusual or recycled materials?

We use traditional techniques and materials usually for domestic use such as needles, threads, fabrics, plates, scissors, etc. But we are also interested in reusing materials for domestic use with the intention of beautifying them or giving them a second life (for example when re-using old fabrics), etc.

 Your textile artworks are the result of an experience of artistic collaboration that began several years ago.  What are the advantages and difficulties you encounter in this four-handed experience?

For us, the creative process of two people is a win-win project because through synergy we manage to optimize and enrich our poetic world. Dialogue and time is always important to concens ideas. There are agreements and disagreements but there is always a third option. We feel that together we are better artists.

“La Selva De Costantin”, Hand embroidery with cotton threads, wool, rayon and jewelry effect threads on hand print fabric with serigraphy 1,80 x 1,65 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

“La Selva De Costantin”, Hand embroidery with cotton threads, wool, rayon and jewelry effect threads on hand print fabric with serigraphy 1,80 x 1,65 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

“La Selva De Costantin”, Hand embroidery with cotton threads, wool, rayon and jewelry effect threads on hand print fabric with serigraphy 1,80 x 1,65 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

Can you describe how you plan a new work? Does each of you have a prestablished role in the design process or do you work in synergy without specific roles?

Cinema, literature, music, theater, art history, talks with our friends, meetings with other artists, everything can be a motivation to start a new job. We do not have specific or pre-established roles when working. We both complement each other and can do all kinds of jobs. We have the same developed skills.

Sometimes we start working on a new project from the proposal given by the materials and other times from the ideas and looking for materials that fit the best way.

First the technique or first the creativity? What do you think determines the success of an artwork. When does creativity risk being suffocated by technique?

Both (technique and creativity) have the same place for us and both are equally important for the success of a work of art. Success for us is achieved when the work of art approaches or exceeds the concept behind it. We avoid focusing only on technical aspects.

From March 17 until August4, 2019 at MOLAA in Long Beach there is the exhibition ¨Chiachio&Giannone: Celebrating Diversity.  The works on display are part of the series ¨Familia a seis colores¨and ¨Banderas del orgullo¨.  
Celebrating Diversity is a large installation by Chiachio&Giannone with the participation of the public present at the exhibition.  Can you tell about this project, how it was born and how it is developing, what does it consist of?

¨Celebrating diversity¨ is an exhibition that began in the CCK (Kichner Cultural Center) in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina during 2018. The curator of this project is Gabriela Urtiaga. It is a tribute that we make to the visual artists who belong to the LGTBQ community. The idea was to begin the exhibition with an empty room where we installed our studio and began to make pieces of art with the technique of textile mosaicism. For this technique we reuse fabrics that we dyed in different colors. In each piece, different artists are honored or represented. During the same process in the same showroom, workshops were held with the public that visited the art exhibition, making pride flags with the patchwork technique where we invited them to leave a positive message about gender diversity. During the exhibition in Buenos Aires, the director of MOLAA (Dr. Lourdes Ramos) visited our exhibition and invited us to continue with this tribute and project in California. We here in Long Beach pay tribute to American visual artists by focusing on California LGTBQ artists.

We also made a large pride flag 30 x 112 feet long with the patchwork technique reusing fabrics donated by people. More than 3000 people left a positive message about the motivations of living in diversity in 12 x 12 inch cloth squares. In this way this great flag was the voice of the community. This flag was taken to the Pride March in Long Beach with the help of 130 people. During their parade money was collected for the AIDS FOOD STORE – non profite foundation.

 With the tapestry ¨La Famille dans la Joyeuse Verdure¨ you won in 2013 the prestigious Grand Prix International de Tapisseried´Aubusson (France).  Can you tell us about the iconography of this work?. 

¨La Famille dans la Joyeuse Verdure¨ is a project that we carry out with the aim of translating the image of a painting with the tapestry technique. In this work we represent ourselves as in the family photographic portraits of the last century. We pose in the work of art characterized as aboriginal guaranies in the company of our son-pet-dog daschundPiolin. We are immersed in an exuberant jungle where flowers and animals are transformed into jewels, thus representing the importance they have for us on the planet we live.

“La Famille Dans La Joyeuse Verdure”, Acrilyc and colored pencils on cardboard 0,93 x 1,54 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

La Famille Dans La Joyeuse Verdure”, tapestry, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

What influence has the Arts & Crafts Movement had on your work? Are there artists or artistic currents that have played a decisive role in your way of “making art”?

At the beginning of our career, it did not have much influence as we have an academic education in the field of painting in the art schools of Argentina. In recent years we have come a little closer to various movements (including feminism and diversity, etc.) and certain schools, as an interest in our training as mature professional artists. We believe in our artistic DNA and artists who belonged to the Bauhaus and also in other artists such as Sonia Delaunay, El Aduanero Rousseau, David Hockney, Judy Scott, Mike Kelley, Seraphine, outsider art, Argentine artists such as Jorge Gumier Maier, Pablo Suarez who we consider are part of this DNA. All of them played an important role in us when developing our way of making art.

Paye’ En El Pompidou”, Hand embroidery with cotton threads, wool, rayon and jewelry effect threads, pompom and tassel on Hermés tweed – 0,80 x 1,50 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

Cuando S. DelaunyLlegò a Còrdoba”, Hand embroidery with cotton thread and jewerly effect on Hermés linen towel 0,80 x 1,30 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

 

What do you think is the relationship between art and craftsmanship?

We conceive art and crafts as one thing, we can not separate them. We believe in thinking in art, in the concept and in the technique that go in the same direction, in the same way. It is a whole.

Today, in your opinion, what is the space that textile art has within the wider scene of the Major Arts? Has textile art finally managed to win the right to no longer be considered a Minor Art?

In our opinion, we think that as the years go by, textile art will once again have the space it has had in the past. Visiting museums, contemporary art galleries and biennials in the world we see that it has a growing space, that contemporary artists take this medium as a means to express their poetics.

Irony is one of the characteristics with which you deal in your works even complex themes such as gender and equality matters. Which of your textile works most clearly shows this aspect?

The irony and humor are some of the main characteristics of our works, this thread appears throughout our artistic discourse. We play disguise ourselves in several characters … and our intention is always to represent us in the best way or as close to what we see in our own dreams. We could not say just one work, because there are several that represent this sense of humor.

“Arco Iris De Luna Y Sol”, Hand embroidery with cotton thread and pompons on fabric 1,46 x 1,34 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone“

Augumois& Normandie”, Hand embroidery with cotton thread and jewelry effect on fabric. 1,22 x 1,48 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

Augumois& Normandie”, detail – Hand embroidery with cotton thread and jewelry effect on fabric. 1,22 x 1,48 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

Can you tell us about your work PAISAJE DE POMPEYA exhibited as part of the solo exhibition “Arqueología Suave” at the Art Gallery Ruth Benzacar?

 In 2017 we were invited to participate in an exhibition of Argentine artists with Italian origin in Capri. On this trip we wanted to go to see the paese where the grandfather of Chiachio (Nova Siri, province of Mattera) was born and on the way to Nova Siri we passed through Pompeii and fell in love with the mosaics and mural paintings in the ruins. We understood how art was part of daily life for the inhabitants of Pompeii and we wanted to pay homage to that universe and our part of the family DNA from Italy.

Until then we knew the murals only for reproductions in books but being personally in front of them and in the real environment for which they were created, the experience was totally different. We also visited the archeology museum in Naples where several of these mosaics are also found. Wefell in love with all of them.

We returned to Argentina thinking that we wanted to make some mosaics but using textiles. Continuing with our way of working we reuse old sheets, used clothes, etc. and we began a process of dyeing, we made prints in several techniques to have a surface as faithful to those murals that we had discovered. After having this stained and patterned surface we begin the process of hand embroidery. We work in this work for more than a year, they are several parts that make up this polyptych.

“Paisaje De Pompeya”, Handmade embroidery with cotton threads on a dyed and hand printed fabric with sublimation and serigraphy. 2,25 x 5,18 m, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

What is the main source of inspiration for your works today? Are there differences from the past? How has your artwork changed from the beginning to the present?

Our interests always go along the same paths, representing a homoerotic and gay family (Leo & Daniel & their dogs /pets / children). We are interested in representing the voices of those who do not have space to develop and express their ideas (as we have done on several occasions with the creation of collective works, the last was the creation of the “Pride Flag” in MOLAA in Long Beach, California, where we work with more than 3000 people to create this unique large-scale work).

Workshop Dog day at MOLAA , copyright Chiachio&Giannone

Workshop Dog day at MOLAA , copyright Chiachio&Giannone

Workshop in a CH&G exhibition Celebrating Diversity at MOLA, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

Chiachio&Giannone Pride Flag at the Pride Parade LB, copyright Chiachio&Giannone

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