One World | Saverio Tonoli

From November 2019 until June 2020, Saverio Tonoli has been researching Xuan paper, ink and colour as part of his painting exploration in Asia. The project first materialised through a residency in Taipei and a project presented at Taipei Dangdai art fair, and then in Vietnam. On occasion of A. Farm’s open-studios Saverio Tonoli presented two paintings and a paper installation, a segment of the works done during this residency. Monoprint #S1 combines painting and printing techniques, composing the image with water’s texture and colour glazings. Azoth II is a large format collage made of pieces of different paintings collected in the last 7 months and composed together. It resembles an organism, as well as kind of interstellar space, both a figure and a landscape. The installation Wallpaper collage is made of collected remains of paintings and is activated by the studio fan. This piece is inspired by the italian artist Mario Merz and his works on paper. In his Monoprints series Saverio paints directly onto the paper and PVC sheets which are utilised as a printing plate. This allows to paint&paste parts of the composition, record water patterns, modulate different degrees of wet and dry ink and create multiple layers of almost invisible ink washes. Self-absorbed on rocks is another ongoing painting project, a series of large panoramic works on paper painted directly in situ, on the coasts of different countries. The paper is wet-brushed directly on the cliffs and then painted with ink, revealing rocks‘ volumes and textures and expanding the practice of Frottage.

I prolonged my stay at A.Farm residency by almost 2 months and I basically kept working on my paintings during the 3-months lockdown. My country (Italy) was a disaster and friends and colleagues from many countries kept me informed about the different – more or less tragic – situations they were facing. But the slowdown feeling and the strange calmness of isolation was common to everyone, everywhere. As the days went along, time became incredibly abstract, almost eternal. Solitude and a sense of purposelessness, even with other people around, was very perceivable – the life of a monk was the closest to ours. All these conditions are already present and even necessary to paint, such huge happenings like a pandemic prolongs and intensifies them. If artists normally try to reach out the world, it rather seems that the world tasted the powerful void of an artist at work.

The lockdown has been more a radical situation to take advantage of than a difficulty to overcome. I was training in martial arts on alternate days using a self-made dummy. We had a huge courtyard with trees and plants at disposal, everyone was decompressing their thoughts and their bodies there. In Saigon, in district 12 at least, I appreciated the possibility to play loud music, sing and shout. Everyone does it there and I find it very healthy. As I live in a multicultural metropolis like Berlin and spend time with very different people I did feel any difference in spending time with the residents at A. Farm. But simply sharing the time (and the space) with people is indeed challenging anywhere: variation of the same topics inevitably come out and a set of few and very clear rules allow at least a civil approach to conflicts.

Saverio Tonoli (b. 1984, Italy) crosses different techniques in his painting practice such as ink brushwork, fresco techniques and processes on different papers. He grew up in the darkroom where he started observing the behaviours of liquids and chemicals on images, which he then translated over the years into painting. Saverio currently lives and works between Berlin, Germany and Taipei, Taiwan.