On the 14th of June 2020, the very first DIY Çukurcuma Living Room exhibition was held, just a couple of weeks after the compulsory 69-day lockdown period: “69 Days to Handle with Vito Manolo Roma”. Held in the living room of a detached house in Istanbul’s Çukurcuma district, the exhibition, in its impromptu format, was born out of a yearning to deconfine the space and reflect on the past months of solitude.
The impromptu exhibition comprises 8 pencil on paper drawings by Italian illustrator and artist Vito Manolo Roma. The works derive from a series of sketchbook works, which the artist created during the 69 day confinement period in Istanbul that shortly started just after his arrival to the city in early February 2020, from Milan, Italy.
The idea of an appointment-only living room exhibition was born instinctively out of a necessity, making the liveability of the works a central theme. The works centre around the notion of escapism and the existential boredom and imponderability of the everyday.
Italian artist Vito Manolo Roma, answered our questions and shared his 69-days confinement experience…
* You created a series of sketchbook jobs during this 69-day holding period in Istanbul. What are some of the main concepts and questions that you have mainly thought about during this confinement period? How do you describe your experience of this unprecedented and pandemic quarantine period?
I must say that as soon as the covid-19 alarm went off, so the partial or total confinement with respect to the outside world, I reacted quite positively. Of course, I was surprised, indeed displaced in an abnormal way, like everyone else, but I immediately thought that the world had needed this break for a long time, especially from the stress and the little time we normally dedicate to ourselves. I began to enjoy the silence in the streets, the rarefied atmosphere, being in constant contact with myself without any distraction whatsoever, also comparing myself with those parts of me from which I normally escape. I focused on not being surprised by panic or other psychological conditions that play bad jokes on our mind and body.
“My Work Helps Me to Overcome Uncomfortable Moods”
* Can you describe your inner world and psychology while creating these works?
I am an image collector. I love to watch and observe rather than read. Every time I start to create something I open my image archives, I browse them one by one, dwelling on each one: Portraits, posters, record covers, illustrations, ancient paintings and so on and I wait for ideas to arrive. Or I copy an image as it is, modifying only a few details to completely change its final meaning. Sometimes, on the other hand, I simply have ideas that I want to represent because I consider them in some way valid for me and for those who will look at them. I have also done so during these sixty-nine days. Then, comparing myself with Metin (Metin M. İlktekin) , I found it incredible how many of the designed subjects represented my mood of that period. I can therefore say that it was my unconscious to work and my hand to translate.
“Turkey Is Giving Me Many Inspirations”
* Can you describe your experience and your feelings, while you are stuck in another country, with the main threats to health (of the virus) and you were creating art … Art has been worked as a shelter from all the madness around?
Surely. I consider myself very lucky to have discovered what my talents were when I was a child. Then, of all, I chose to draw and of course, my work helps me to overcome uncomfortable or unpleasant moods. In Milan I left my friends and a music project (Soul Finger n.d.a.), but I continue to work with various Italian realities, so part of me is in Italy even if I basically chose Istanbul. The luck of being a freelancer is that you can work wherever you want and Turkey is giving me many inspirations. The fact that it faces the Mediterranean sea makes me feel at home.
* How do you think your works will influence / influence visitors? What would they think / feel when confronted with your art?
I do not know. Maybe I don’t want to know. However, I don’t think about it while I draw, because I don’t want to have constraints related to the recognition of others. I think this is a big limit for the final result, also because there will always be someone who doesn’t like you and who doesn’t like your job, but that’s good! It is good because it is a stimulus to create and amaze oneself. Here, amaze myself is the first thing I need.
“Exhibitions in Çeşme and Bodrum, Then A Solo Show in İstanbul”
* Are there any other projects that you’re working on right now?
With Metin, (Metin M. İlktekin) we are working on another small exhibition that will take place in Çesme and Bodrum, for which I will produce another series of original drawings on paper, but in a larger format. In October I will have a solo show here in Istanbul where I will only produce screen prints.
For the rest I am, as always, working on other projects also related to graphics and design, such as a series of wine labels and interior design for a record shop, where I will create everything manually, including a series of ceramic tiles for the bar counter. I like that my customers then have unique pieces in their hands.
For further information, you can visit:
Vito Manolo Roma:
www. instagram. com/ vitomanoloroma