A Day With: Ivan Pili

Ivan Pili in his studio

Ivan Pili is a prizewinning artist who has exhibited his work across his home country of Italy. A master of shading and dimension, Pili is a technically-skilled artist who exclusively works with oil-based paints to create hyper-realistic portraits and still lifes that evoke the style and technical prowess of the master painters of the Renaissance. We recently sat down with Pili to learn more about his process and how he creates his stunning artworks.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

In the morning I have to clear my mind. I do long walks, physical activity, in short I have to oxygenate the brain. My job requires a lot of concentration and stress, so I have to relax and enjoy the little things of the day before entering my studio

What inspires you to create every day?

Mine is a passion, but also a mission. I’m very much in love with the work I do, so the motivation is not lacking. I would not characterize it as inspiration but instead motivation: if you are motivated inspiration arrives automatically. My goal is to paint emotions, and when I read a lot of positive feedback, my motivation increases, as does my self-esteem which admittedly makes me love my work even more.

Ivan Pili, 'She, the power, the life,' 2017. Oil on Canvas, 100x70cm.
Ivan Pili, ‘She, the power, the life,’ 2017. Oil on Canvas, 100x70cm.

What does your work space look like?

My passion for painting came five years ago. I had not foreseen this ardor and did not know where to put myself to paint. Initially I went to my parents’ house to paint because their house is very large. But when passion became a job, I had to invest in a studio space inside my house. Now I have an attic that has been transformed into my work space. It has excellent light and I can see a beautiful landscape from the window.

Describe the core of your technique or style.

I have a primary goal: to create my own style. Many times my paintings seem to have no uniqueness, instead there is a study behind them. I have been a photographer for many years, so my idea is not to make paintings look like photographs, but to go beyond photography. I’ll give you an example: the lighting I create in my paintings cannot be seen in a photograph, the effect of three-dimensionality cannot be obtained from a photograph. The intended result is that when a buyer decides to have a painting of mine in his house, he believes that that image is real and alive, not a photograph or a print.

Ivan Pili, 'Caravaggio: boy with fruit basket,' 2017. Oil, Resin, Pigments on Canvas, 80x75cm.
Ivan Pili, ‘Caravaggio: boy with fruit basket,’ 2017. Oil, Resin, Pigments on Canvas, 80x75cm.

To obtain these results I realized that the only technique of oil painting is not enough. Currently, I use 5-6 techniques simultaneously with materials hand-made by me and which can’t be found on the market. Even the study of new techniques excites me and prevents me from becoming bored in my work, quite the opposite, it excites me.

What are your top 3 studio essentials?

The first thing I do everyday is change the layout of the tripod, the work table and other small things. This always creates a sensation of novelty and prevents monotony. This is very important because mine is a work of solitude and every day I never have to repeat what I did the day before. To have company, I listen to the radio, usually news, and then listen to all kinds of music, from electronic to classical to hip hop. Even the different types of music help me avoid the feeling of monotony. Here, the key to everything is always being motivated and never focusing on the monotony of the work. Here too we need to have creativity.

How do you know or decide when an artwork is finished?

This is difficult to understand. I usually use 50% of the time to create an artwork and 50% to finish it with small details. I realize that the painting is finished when the details no longer correspond to the need of the painting but, instead, make it worse. If an artist knows how to talk with his painting, it is the painting that tells the artist that he is finished.

Ivan Pili, 'Life scenes in black and white #1,' 2019. Oil on Canvas, 100x70cm.
Ivan Pili, ‘Life scenes in black and white #1,’ 2019. Oil on Canvas, 100x70cm.

What do you like to do to unwind after a day’s work?

I have two beautiful daughters. They are my life and my main source of inspiration. With them I share the birth of my paintings and with them I share the term of the painting. But even every day I need to charge myself with positive energy. I have many friends (who feel a healthy envy towards me), I have so many hobbies that help me to clear my brain from the fatigues of the working day. I love cooking and creating banquets in my house. I love the company at the end of the day because I am always alone in my work. I am looking for a mental balance and my daughters and friends are my salvation.

Ivan Pili, 'Happiness is… a butterfly in flight,' 2018. Oil on Canvas, 80x80cm.
Ivan Pili, ‘Happiness is… a butterfly in flight,’ 2018. Oil on Canvas, 80x80cm.

What’s your overall favorite aspect of the creative process?

Definitely the details. Creating a painting is not difficult, but bringing it to life is the best challenge. I start feeling excitement when it’s time to do the details, I put myself to the test and every test is to be won. If the details did not exist, I would not be a painter. I always wait for that moment, when I decide to let the painting speak. In my case it is not the painting that generates emotions, but its details…they are my strong point.

Thank you, Ivan! See more of his amazing work on Singulart.

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