How can we best describe the work of Italian artist Joys? With a background in writing and lettering, the connection between this and the linear, geometric qualities that embody his work may seem obvious. However, since the beginning of his artistic career in the Nineties, his abstract compositions have evolved to encompass architectural yet fluid forms. On the surface they possess elements of structure and uniformity, but take a step back and look again….the viewer can’t help but be drawn in by the depth and synergy of colours that characterise Joys’ work. On encountering one of his paintings, you are almost forced to stop in your tracks and question your own perception of what is real and what is in fact an illusion….
Earlier in your career your compositions focused primarily on lettering; we’re curious to know what inspired you to take your work further. Tell us how your paintings evolved from these early stages to the large scale wall murals that now characterise your style? Was this a natural or intentional process?
First of all, I want to say that my very early debut was in 1992. Everything started for fun and my only goal at that time was to write my name. During the early years my style evolved without a real consciousness about the way I wanted to express my art. In these times my works also included horizontal bars designed in a way to adapt and follow the actual structure and shapes of train wagons. My style has never really left the relationship with letters even though the evolution of my works brought me several times to leave the lettering and focus on the inner shapes of my patterns in a hypothetical dialogue with the walls.
The linear and 3D elements of your work give them a unique depth that is mesmerising and, as a viewer, almost hypnotising. Whilst possessing a very structural, architectural quality, they are also extremely fluid and cohesive at the same time. From the outside looking in, they often lead the viewer to question what is real and what is an illusion. How did you find your style and do you have any particular influences?
The evolution of my style definitely started with the trains experience, but if I have to say a name I would surely mention M.C. Escher among the artists that mostly influenced my style, especially his study about “Impossible Constructions”. I tried to adapt the concepts of his works to my letters There are two more artists that have been very important for me: Delta (Nederlands) and Sento (NYC) that I would define as “Graffiti Legends”.
You have created large scale wall murals in a diverse range of cities the world over, including Milan, Moscow, Tehran and Kaohsiung. Which has been your favourite international project so far and were there any challenges you had to overcome along the way?
It’s hard to say which one was the greatest. Maybe the one that I consider the most exciting was back in 2018 in the small village of Nanxian (China) when I was invited with other international artists to paint the farmer houses. This experience was so memorable not only because I made one of my favorite works, but also because I had the chance to meet so many good people with whom I shared intense moments of normal life.
We particularly love the mural you created on an apartment building in Kaohsiung, Taiwan with its bold turquoise-infused colour palette. What led you to Taiwan and how did this project come to be?
I was invited to Taiwan to take part in the “Wallriors Festival”. First I was asked to paint only the left side of the building but when I saw it I was happy to extend my work to the entire surface of the building. My main intent is not to put my work on a wall like a sticker but to dress the building with a site specific project. This work was created considering its architectural shapes and the number of windows and balconies of the condo. I wanted to put again my name in this project where the black lines that surround my tag are never stopped by the architectural obstacles. Painting this building took 10 days in which I even experienced the help of the people that lived in these apartments; they shared their food with me from their windows. I will never ever forget this place and these people!
Obviously international travel is not so accessible right now but looking ahead, have you set your sights on any other global cities that you envisage to be a future canvas for your work?
I had to postpone a few projects that I was about to start before the pandemic: Zanzibar (Tanzania), Sachalin (Russia) and London (UK). Right now I have a few works coming up in my country. Hopefully I will soon be back to my regular agenda.
I would like to paint once more in the US but this time in Arizona so I could get the chance to visit the Grand Canyon! One of the few European cities where I have not left my signature is Berlin…I would be pleased to leave the sign of my style there!
Your compositions take on a wide array of colours; what is the process behind choosing the colour scheme for an upcoming project? Do you consider the surroundings to somehow build a relationship between your painting and the environment, or do you seek to contradict and challenge it?
I normally start to design the colors for my works using three different ranges of colors: light, medium and dark for each range. Basically the choice of colors changes every season and year depending on my mood and the place where my work has to interact. I have my own formula that consists of creating clashes between colors. Furthermore I think that sometimes I put together colors that many others would not easily combine.
We’d love to know more about the process of creating such large scale wall murals. How does your vision on paper develop into a final piece and what are the logistics in bringing your idea to life?
Every project starts from the photo of the wall in which I find a structural detail such as a balcony or a window from which I begin to develop my sketch. Once I finish drawing the lines I decide how to put the colors in, searching for the best way to let the composition have a dialogue with the environment and the hosting wall itself. The entire project is designed with my laptop and carried out without any projector but only with a meter, pencil and level. That’s it!
In 2017 you collaborated with another street artist, Peeta, for an exhibition called “My Good Old Habits” at Wunderkammern in Milan. What inspired this collaboration and what was the concept behind it? Would you consider further collaborations in the future?
Me and Peeta have been friends and members of the same crew (EAD) for a long time. In 2017 we had a collaboration in Milan where we melted our own 3D styles into a unique work that put together vectors and shadows. The result on the wall was very successful and from then we had more chances to work at the same time on the same project. The concept behind this collaboration can be easily found in the title of the exposition, “My Good Old Habits”, that after more than 25 years are still the same…we are still painting. Right now we haven’t anything planned but I’m sure that the future will give us more opportunities to work together
我和Peeta是朋友，也是同一个团队（EAD）的成员，已经有很长一段时间了。2017年我们在米兰有一次合作，我们把自己的3D风格融进了一个独特的作品中，把矢量和阴影放在一起。墙上的效果非常成功，从那时起，我们有了更多的机会在同一个项目上同时合作。这次合作背后的理念很容易从博览会的标题 “我的好习惯 “中找到，经过25年多的时间依然如故……我们依然在画画。现在我们还没有什么计划，但我相信未来会给我们更多的合作机会。
You’re part of an artistic collective in Padua called ‘EAD’; what was the idea behind this and how did it come into existence?
EAD (Escuela Antigua Disciples) started as a group of 8 friends with the same interests and attitude towards Breaking and Writing. We started to gather in 1992 at “Le Banche”, the meeting point for underground culture in the city of Padova at that time. The group soon became bigger and bigger, reaching about 25 members. I still remember with joy the time when I first became part of the crew in 1993 and I can say that it has been a great achievement for me. The idea behind the name of the crew was to deliver a new style in dancing and writing but keeping a conscious approach that led us to nowadays.
EAD(Escuela Antigua Disciples)是由8个对Breaking和写作有着相同兴趣和态度的朋友组成的。1992年，我们开始在“LeBanche“聚会，这是当时帕多瓦市地下文化的聚集点。这个团体很快就变得越来越大，达到了大约25名成员。1993年，当我第一次成为剧组的一员时，我仍然高兴地记得，我可以说，这对我来说是一个巨大的成就。这个团队名称背后的想法是，在舞蹈和写作方面提供一种新的风格，但保持一种有意识的方法，导致我们今天。
Art can be incredibly evocative and is obviously open to each individual’s unique perception and interpretations. Is this something you think about when you are undertaking a project and do you see your art as a way to communicate with the viewer?
Starting from the fact that most viewers might have the perception that my works are abstracts, I like to see people’s reactions, especially those who are unaware of this form of art. I’m curious about what they think and which meaning they give to my job.
What aspirations do you have for 2021? Do you have any new projects in the works that you can tell us about? We’re excited to see what’s next for you!
Yes of course ,but right now I can’t tell you much…I only want to let you know that my next projects will be big in size.
Interview 作者：: Hazel Rycraft
Translation 翻译: Emi