Christian Zanotto was born in Italy (in Marostica, in the province of Vicenza) on the 11th of June 1972.
From early infancy the experiences which capture his imagination most are drawing, making things and building; it is during his childhood that he learns the concept of “poetic licence” and is fascinated by it.
As time goes by his artistic vocation is confirmed and develops greatly, leading him to choose for his high school studies the Art Institute G. De Fabris in Nove (Vicenza) and following this the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, where he follows the courses Painting and Decoration. In the year 2000, prodded by the winds of his Mercurial character, he opens his own atelier in the city of Amsterdam, continuing, however, to travel in particular between Holland, Italy and Spain.
Christian Zanotto's artistic research, after the initial phases in which he learns to become a master in the classical techniques, seems to be directing him, even while still at the Academy, towards a technological medium using the computer, an object with which he has a considerable familiarity, developed during the experience he gained through using the first of these “elaborators”, a possession of his childhood, and which he followed in its developments and evolutions, and in which he found a means through which he was able to create the sum of his experiences in painting, sculpture, photography and video.
During an initial, almost “iconoclastic” phase, while he was still in Venice, his attention was directed mostly to substances and to the research into the intense expressive capacity contained within them, sometimes minimal, (metals treated with acids or paint coatings, structures made in copper wire, white naked canvases marked by pleats, slashes, seams and the metal strings of musical instruments, and again wood, latex rubber, layers of ceiling wax or smooth immaculate surfaces in resin); however, what has already become apparent in some of his works at this time is the electrical and technological element of the television screen, turned on but not tuned in to a particular channel and here begins his experiment in the field of “video-art”, conducted with the aid of video-cameras and television screens.
While he was experimenting and carrying out his research and during the various iconic phases, Christian Zanotto approaches figurative art again more closely through the medium of the personal computer and very soon develops a double interest: on the one hand for 'the image' and on the other for 'the substance' or 'material' with which the image was to be united and through which the image was to take on its appearance and 'become' itself. The works created by Zanotto with the aid of photography and of the first softwares available through the technique of digital painting materialise on a variety of supports: canvas treated with colour pigments and gold and silver leaf, plastic surfaces, pvc, metals. The experiments which capture the imagination of the artist most of all are with synthetic resins, which, creating smooth or rough surfaces spread in alternate layers of gold or silver leaf or a variety of paints or coatings, enable him to reach that alchemy between image and substance which is the all mark of his artistic intent, which is not satisfied by simply transferring the flat image onto a bi-dimensional support, but tries to imbibe it in its most ephemeral but effective presence, as if it had emerged from a profound pictorical time-space depth.
The artist's figurative development beginning with his experience of the year 2000 goes through a period of solemn front facing subjects (the hieratic and static “icons” of Adam/a self portrait and Eve, the divine eye, the serpent, the Gate of Eden) to continue with the introduction of the widest variety of characters, always linked on the one hand to a spiritual universe (shown by the halo) and on the other to a world of games, of war, of sensuality (the “Baby-me”, the “Baby-Saint”, the “Barbie” and many others). The haloed and sensual female figures will later culminate in “The Saints”, a pictorical elaboration of faces captured through stills, in which these faces, immortalised in a moment of enjoyment, are transfigured into those of colourful saints in ecstasy.
The terrestrial and the spiritual are constantly intertwined, together with traces and symbols of contemporary civilisation, evoked through a sense of what is “toyish” and “plastiky”, through references to war, to weapons, to machines, and later to symbols connected to the consumer society, observed in this moment also through the dark side of a perverse eroticism, as in the photos in which female bodies, very often whose faces are placed outside the view point, emerge from a dark abyss by means of light and shade of almost Caravaggian quality, connected to elements such as erotic garments, swords, pistols, handcuffs, dolls, vertiginously high heeled shoes.
A disturbing femininity, where the sense of pleasure seems to be linked to suffering, but without hiding itself, so highlighted as it is by being set in glossily shiny “Ferrari Red” frames.
A more ironic vein appears in the following different, but still promiscuous “Mothers Superior” (which confound the borders between inanimate object and animate being) or the tattooed nudes, studded and chained as in the “Exoskeleton” series in which the body, thus treated, becomes similar to a 'design object'.
Zanotto is a complex artist, whose artistic activity is always continuous research; his is a personality which observes attentively in order to study and discover the paths which join opposites and which aim at throwing new bridges between apparently incompatible extremes; in him we find the intention of exploring the universe which unites what is apparently sacred or profane, by-passing any kind of judgment, but searching for understanding going beyond the typical preordained conventions and obsolete taboos.
His is a study of the alchemy which emerges from the mix of image and substance and his search for aesthetics explores the world of 'matrix-images', their nature, the intrinsic power of the subliminal, of which he tests the potential.
The artist uses the human figure because the development of his work takes place as if “through a mirror”; what is more the body is closely linked to eroticism, which Zanotto considers a fundamental key to entice and fascinate and at the same time create a breach which moves inevitably right to the most primitive part of us, from which thoughts, sensations and reasoning can then follow.
In Zanotto we find together the spirit for rigorous adherence to a project and at the same time an almost sacred respect for the casual and for new paths which 'the casual' can indicate and which lay open his labour to a continuous mutability which in turn opens up new horizons moment by moment. Within his personality the rational and the irrational complete each other in the same way as his love for what is right and true and for what is false, as happens when he plays at making virtual images appear real and vice versa.
His most recent works (2010/2011) are particularly elaborate: the artist makes use of photography and of a variety of softwares (which for his works are the digital equivalent of all the traditional tools of the artist's work) in order to build a scene which is completely virtual and three-dimensional, to which he gives body with figures and objects (and inside of which one can travel virtually).
The renderings of digital works are impressed on crystal sheets, suitably treated, by means of the technique of transferring the digital image through a process of photographic exposure.
The plastic-sculptural result is of great impact, the great panes of glass, framed, become mirrors and thresholds onto a world which, although omnipresent and alive, rarely shows itself so directly, a deep and veiled universe of the human psyche. The “Iconography” of these works is semi-religious, not from adherence, but from the fact that it moves at its side in order to carry out a philosophic-artistic investigation into the icons created by man for his own beliefs, which in fact are clearly shown to us through these paintings in their nature as machinery, mechanisms which human beings have undertaken to build and develop using for their material their fears, hopes and happiness. As well as the works on crystal, a series of videos make up a journey of introspection inside the universe in which the images of the pictures exist in their immaterial form of light. The most up to date research carried out by Zanotto includes an interest for experimenting and probing into visual perception and even newer and more sophisticated technology, in particular that related to three-dimensional vision, tested through video and images.
The latest evolution that artist is developing heads towards the world of holography, to expand the expressive possibilities already intrinsic in his creations, transforming the virtual sculptures in light sculptures through holographic installations.
The last works (2010) are very elaborated, realized through the combination of photography and virtual images which then are tranferred on big crystal surfaces through a photographic exposure process; Zanotto realizes also videos related to these material artworks, videos which are sorts of flights through the universe in which the images of the paintings exist in their immateriality "made of light"; every element of these art-movies (images,sounds,music,words) is created on this purpose.The large framed crystals are in the meantime mirrors and thresholds. Like mirrors they are not isolated, but instead interacting with the surrounding space through the reflection; like thresholds they constitute openings which give us the opportunity to catch a foreshortening of a world which is omnipresent and living, but rarely shows itself in a direct way. This universe is psycho-philosophic, normally hidden and veiled, but the artist enables us to see it, bringing it to light. On the psychologic side the artwork is a travel-analysis inside the human psyche, beyond the boundaries of the individual personality, to reach its deepest level, the one of the collective consciousness, extremely alive and full of strong energies ; on the philosophic side the artist wants to place his search in the middle of this broad and subterranean conscience as this is the specific site where to confront ourselves and find an answer about the foundation of our existence, the place where to find explanations about the condition of the human being. With this aim like starting point Zanotto works trying in the first place to look from the most neutral possible point of view, free of preconceptions, to seek with the aid of the maximum objectivity, strongly aware of the logical impossibility to base ourselves on certainties. The iconography of this artwork is, for this, religious-like, not for adhesion to a creed but to get nearer to the icons created by man for the purposes of his religion, here analyzed like a human creation. This philosophic-artistic investigation shows us religion in its nature of machine, mechanism that man engaged himself to build and elaborate using like materials his fears, hopes and happinesses with the will to explain to himself all the things and control the existence, which, in an overall vision, continues to be elusive.
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