Hunt was in St. Louis for the Thanksgiving holiday and caught up with his old friend, Ian Quattrocchi. Ian has been painting ever since Hunt can remember and the best story he told us was, “I went to see Ian’s new house [now his old place] when he moved in. We were talking about work space and the need to have more area to ‘create.’ We walked into the basement and it was 100’s of canvas’ laid out all over the floor, walls, and ceiling. Ian had made his ‘bat cave’ and was crushing the creative. Abstracts, profiles, colors, and amazing strokes were filling these works of art. That was about 5-6 years ago…..now you can see why I love this dude and his art. He never stops pushing the limits. He is Grimey Gatsby to the fullest. Famisfam….”
We decided to get Ian on an interview with Grimey Gatsby after hearing about his soccer career, his painting prowess, and his love for the abstract. Ian has been sending his work all over the globe from Hotels in Japan to art galleries in St. Louis. We hope to see him in the Colorado arena soon….if we have anything to do with it. Meet “what’s next” in the world of Art….
How would you describe your art style?
Ah! The first question is always the toughest. When I take a step back from my body of work from the last 6 years or so, I see work that is, well, all over the grid in terms of style. I’ve never obsessed over a particular series or idea for too long, because I know I would grow tired and become complacent, or even lazy. I have been influenced by so many different things during different periods, and it really does show in the work. I think of the creative mind as a library, and I’m a student presenting visual reports on all different kinds of ideas. If I feel like painting something more character oriented, which presents clear cut imagery’s and/or narratives, I will find that place in my mind and execute the idea. If I’m feeling more expressive, I might bang out an action painting that places more emphasis on shape, color, and movement. Every attentive moment that passes affects me, and my daily routine is filled with a wide variety of music, people, and other general interactions with my changing environment. I think this is why my work can’t be summed up into one genre, and I’m happy about that. If I focused on one particular series and pushed it to a tiring bore, I would feel like I was hiding so much, and not conveying my true self. However, at the end of the day, no matter how much my work shifts in style, the same ideologies can usually be found in all of the work. In each piece I create, I’m sending a message of an organized, controlled act of expression. Even if the work screams out in a wild way, it’s because I meant to do it and that’s how I felt at that time. If the work has a more subdued, chill vibe to it….well, you get the point.
When did you start to paint?
I familiarized myself with paint in an odd, unorthodox manner. My father was a house-painting contractor, and I used to work for him as a kid. It sounds crazy, but this is how I first moved from simple sketches and drawings onto broader ideas of creating. I was always fascinated by the transformation of a space that spawned from the simple use of color. I started to think, “hey, why not steal some paint from my pops and put the ideas from my drawings to work?” I only used cheap, fluid house paint at first, and then started to incorporate thicker textured artists’ paints. I still use much of the knowledge from my house-painting days in my work today. A lot of standard brush control and discipline was learned on those jobs with my dad. I think that is how I first gained an understanding of the living, moving aspects of a fluid paint.
What hobbies do you have that help with your creativity?
Hopping on my bike and cruising around St. Louis is a great way for me to get away from my studio and clear my mind, but I also love playing sports. For most of my younger years, I was a serious soccer player. I have played at the college and professional levels of the game. I used to fall back on my art to balance my brain out from the “job” aspect of playing soccer, but now the two have kind of flip-flopped. Now I play soccer to get away from my studio for a few hours here and there. I have come to realize that the game of soccer has really had an impact on the way I approach my art. Soccer is a very improvisational game. It’s a game in which you have to adapt to many different styles of play in order to reach a certain goal. Whether that goal is to achieve team unity, or a winning season, it all centers on the idea of meshing together and creating something unique within itself. Creating art is somewhat similar to me. Sometimes I’ll have an idea that is so far from something that I’m used to doing, but the understanding to adapt and carry out these thoughts is a very important exercise. The act of going outside the proverbial box is a good mechanism to use in any art form. Just like adapting and meshing with new players and teams while growing up on the soccer pitch, I’m adapting and catering to new ideas as an artist.
Where is your art hanging today?
I guess I can say all over the place. I’ve been lucky enough to make solid connections and have managed to sell original pieces to buyers all over the country, and even abroad. I haven’t recently shown work in galleries around here because, quite frankly, it’s tough to turn new audiences on to your work from an art gallery in St. Louis. Our art community is rapidly growing here in St. Louis, but I think it takes a reaching out of the artists in order to continue to open new eyes. My last solo show was actually at Space Architecture in The Grove neighborhood. It was an excellent venue to host an art show, and my dude DJ Mahf provided some dope sounds. I think it is important to bridge worlds together and expose new people to the work. This also helps me to gain an understanding of the way things work beyond the sometimes haughty walls of the critical art scene.
I have to give a nod to my guy Anthony Scarato over at Anthonino’s Taverna. They serve up some bomb Greek/Italian cuisine on “The Hill”, which is a traditional Italian neighborhood in South St. Louis. The toasted ravioli (a St. Louis classic) is made in house, and they also have a baba ganoush pizza that kicks some serious ass. If I’m just going for a drink and a snack, I’ll usually meet peeps up at the Royale on Kingshighway, or Mangia Italiano on South Grand.
Best city to visit?
For me, it has to be Tokyo. As a man of limited finances, I can make trips there without breaking the bank too bad because I have family there. This allows for me to have a free place to stay, and also to get some free meals in. When I go to Tokyo, I feel like I’m going five years into the future, which can be intimidating and awe inspiring at the same time. The noises, visuals, living spaces, and overall way of life can really be artistically inspiring, and blow you away at times. However, I will have to say that my favorite selfish reason (besides having drinks with my family) to visit Tokyo has to be grubbing at my uncle Hiroshi’s restaurant, called Hiromoto. It’s somewhat of an underground joint that serves some of the best cuisine in the Setagaya area of Tokyo. He’s quite the character, but means business when it comes to the quality of what he’s serving. He’s a guy that grew up in a fishing village, but ended up in the big city. So basically, he knows his shit when it comes to fish.
Watch how Ian works through a painting in this video…
What’s next for Ian & his art?
I don’t know what’s next, but that’s exciting, right? I know there will be some great progression and some disappointing things ahead in terms my work, but I also know that I will always have a fresh, resilient mind full of ideas that never seem to stop flowing. There’s a comfort and confidence in knowing I have the ability to come up with new ideas. Throughout the years, my work has always bounced around in all sorts of directions, mediums, and styles. That will never change.
Who have you noticed in the art world recently?
I wouldn’t put a name on a particular artist I’ve been into lately, but certain genres and schools of thought have really come alive in the past couple of years. The ideas of combining painting with installations and performance have really been pushed to some interesting boundaries. If I’m giving shout outs, I’m going to give them to my friend Gillian Tobin, who is creating amazing work at Washington University in St. Louis, and my cousin Yu Nishikawa, who just got connected into the Brooklyn, NY art scene.
What are your goals for 2013?
I want to keep diving into new ideas and new ways of delivering them visually. It’s always nice to have a feeling, or a sense that you’ve worked hard, but I think it’s more rewarding to look back and feel like you’ve worked cleverly, and efficiently. Finding a balance between creating the work, and your life outside the studio is important. I intend to stay inspired by the world around me, and to keep creating work in a way that I see fit.
Are you GG Fam?
My dude Hunt and I go way back. We fam. We fam. Thanks for the interview, and keep doing what you do over at Grimey Gatsby. A lotta love from the StL.