METAMORPHOSIS ISSUE 14
Words by Matthew Burgos
Growing up in his household, Nicolò Canova’s parents would chase him around the four corners of their quaint home as the young artist gripped the crayons in his hands, drawing onto the surfaces he eyed: the coffee table, white walls, plush sofas, wooden chairs, encyclopedia-sized books, and blank notebooks. His young eyes viewed all objects as canvasses, the mindset he has lived in since. Immersing himself in art, he has experimented with collage, pastels, oil painting, and digital art until he found the practice of echoing himself onto blank slates through pastel hues. “Art for me is a form of pure expression and communication, the ability to realize what I see, a sort of meditation. I am my art”, says Canova.
As an Illustration graduate of the International Academy of Comics in Turin, the Italian artist fears nothing in toying with what his imagination can come up with. “The most amazing feature about making art is that I can give colors to the world I see through my eyes, to the objects that inspire me, and to the events that allow me to feel emotions,” he says. The fleeting moments of everyday life tinker with his creativity, more so when he saunters inside a supermarket. Rows of products in varying sizes and colors pique Canova’s intuition to anchor shapes and shades that overflow into seamless imagery for what he will next manifest. In his artistic sequence, he pins the inspiration in his mind, walks to his studio, and draws such metaphors on a blank sheet of paper. “The coloring part is secondary, and the technique depends on the desired result. Choosing and applying the palettes come out almost instinctively.”
The brainchild of his manifesto narrates personal chronicles that form part of who he is as an individual and artist. Though he admits that he brushes off any favorite artworks from his anthology, he finds himself drawn towards specific illustrations that commemorate a slice of his lifeline. “‘Ed é subito sera’ is the first painting that required me to travel since it was part of an exhibition in Barcelona. In that moment, I realized that art could also allow me to discover places I have never been to before, embrace my vigor in travelling, and meet fresh faces who I can share my art with. Then, ‘Quando mi adatto non mi perdo’ is one of the recent paintings I made. Just after the lockdown in Italy, I had an exhibition in Southern Italy, and it felt like breathing fresh air, a revamped taste of life. This art made me feel a step closer to my new evolution.”
His confidence and trust in his art have blossomed until it carried him to new heights collaborating with the United Nations, Disney, Sephora, Lancôme, Huawei, to name a few, for commercial illustrations. While the recognition has underlined his unleashed self-expression, carving a path for an inner voice to whisper that he has got nothing to worry about, what Canova nurses the most lies in paintings that speak of how he has journeyed to where he is. ‘The Time of My Future’ elicited a knee-deep lure for Canova as soon as he stepped back from its conception to gaze at the wonder of his work. “I am always hard on myself when it comes to what I make. I constantly feel that something is missing; there is a puzzle piece I cannot find beyond the artwork I have just made. This painting was the first one that I completely loved as I had finally found that ‘door’ that I was looking for. Behind that, a passage unraveled, an unfolding of my style and approach in art.”
For Canova, his voice sings through his art the anthem of those who conceal who they truly are, affecting the revitalization of their identities. “I think every person hides their own stories, experiences, and moods – those that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Colors mix inside of us to depict who we are and what shapes us. We roll around in a constant motion and an endless evolution. Our relationship with the outer world causes a reaction in our inner one, making it change, grow, and explode. In my artworks, I try to represent that inner, unstoppable groove by discovering stories and evoking those emotions through colored brushstrokes and structures in imaginary worlds that are sometimes flat, sometimes dynamic. The human body becomes a vehicle to study what hides beneath and what cannot be seen at a first glance, and in worlds made of contrasts, blocks, expansions, maps, memories, strength, and persistence.”
As he looks inward to ruminate over the individual and artist he is, Canova has met his hidden self and uncovered this facet of self-representation through the artistic magic of his pastel tones. In ‘Once upon a time, when I was a kid’, a rising figure resembles sea waves and hovers over a tiny protagonist who stands on the tip of the ripple, the scarf that wraps around his neck swaying. It evokes Canova’s courage in facing his doubts and fears that seem to culminate inside him, no matter how daring the flashes of negativity can be. His interpretation of paradise permeates through ‘The idea of Utopia’. The four characters’ mind explodes in euphoric soft-hued colors, fusing as one to signal harmony in collective thoughts and perceptions. “I have always been enthusiastic and always look for what is new. At the same time, I am often scared about the future, the world, the comparisons, and the possibility of losing my childlike perspective and nature. Often, I lose myself in these thoughts as if I would melt away with them, but I think I have to pass through them to transform. It is a way to learn how to be mindful of the world, to feel what surrounds us, not with our eyes but with our soul.”
Embracing this philosophy, Nicolò Canova evolves and revolves. He moves in constant motion and mutation, cradling the belief of its necessity and rising like a phoenix. Every day, he learns, thinks, believes, questions, and becomes surprised at what he sees, feels, hears tastes, and respires. For him, everything changes. The word ‘metamorphosis’ weighs as an essential process one has to confront as he unveils a series of discoveries he has never known before.
Artwork Courtesy of the Artist