``My practice is between myself and the canvas, but it feels like social media is a third person in the room that I can't ignore``
I was in Paris on an “arty” expedition when I first learned about Cabba Atelier. Although we had been living in the same city for almost two years, I had just now the pleasure of meeting Armando and discovering his brand new parisian Atelier. I took this as an opportunity to ask about the function of Ateliers in Paris and how social media today influences the work of an artist. We ended up the rendez-vous making fun of my white shoes and they immediately became a canvas that Armando painted.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your background.
A: I’m a Canadian artist born and raised in Montreal. I graduated from the Fine Arts program at both Dawson College and Concordia University before briefly attending an academy in Florence, Italy. Although I work in many mediums, I consider myself a painter. My work gravitates around portraiture and examines the relationships I have with others and myself.
What is Armando Cabba atelier and studio? And why have you decided to move from Florence to Paris?
A: Atelier Armando Cabba is my personal studio along with gallery space. I have the opportunity to expose my own work and host my events while also providing a platform for other artists. It’s a purely creative space open to all. I moved from Florence because I felt I reached my peak of growth in the city. There were lots of things I learnt and discovered about myself and art in general, but I came to a point of feeling halted. Paris has always been a city I’ve had an attraction to and have grown fondly of over the years. Being a contemporary artist, I feel the scene and mentality is different from Florence and I can continue growing in all senses.
How have these two cities influenced your work?
A: It’s a bit early to say how Paris has influenced me. We’re still in the honeymoon phase of our relationship. Florence is another story. I moved to that city with a love of classical work and realism. Abstraction and modern art never appealed and I really had my heart invested in “pure” portraiture. To be blunt, the academy and I didn’t work out which created a reaction in my art to break the rules of traditional art and have no fear trying new approaches to painting. All those artists we hear about that went against the grain and did their own thing finally made sense to me. It all clicked together. The art I ignored became my inspiration. I was all over the place at first like a wild animal and then the Brut series was born. It was my freedom. Italy gave me my first taste of real coffee and working truly independently. Florence opened up a part of me that I would have never known existed if I stayed in Canada.
What makes Atelier Cabba unique compared to the vastity of galleries present in Paris?
A: The Atelier is entirely mine and isn’t owned or run by gallery or curator. It’s a space I can do whatever I feel like with whoever I want. There are some very excellent galleries in Paris, but there’s a feeling of exclusion. You’ll very rarely see the artist in the gallery when it’s not the opening night The receptionists sit there looking posh while tapping away on their giant Mac computers. You can feel a bit out of place in a bad way. Atelier Cabba is different because the artist is always there and he’s working. In the short time I’ve been open, I’ve had great interactions with all types of people who come in. Even if you aren’t buying the art, you shouldn’t feel like you aren’t welcome. You can ask me questions directly, you can ignore me entirely, you can watch me paint, you can have an experience of your own. I don’t want people to feel they can’t be part of this.
Generally speaking what do you think are the main challenges for artists today? How the new media influences the dialogue between the artist and the public?
A: There’s a lot of advantages and disadvantages being an artist working today. Social media is great to promote and share work, but most popular pieces of art shared are quite kitschy or forgettable eye candy. 5 million likes for the time lapse video of that kid drawing Angelina Jolie perfectly is the type of stuff that gets thrown around the internet. Artists have to keep in mind that just because they don’t get likes, shares, retweets, etc doesn’t mean they aren’t talented. You need to keep creating despite not being popular online. It’s hard not to want to follow a popular art trend or style when you want your work to be seen.
For me, I’m trying to not be a hermit and be in contact with people online. When you’re trying to promote something, you start reading articles about when to post, what clever tag lines to use, etc. There are days I don’t want to speak. I don’t want to share anything but yet I feel obliged to do so to maintain a dialogue with my audience. We have complete access to everyone and they have complete access to us. My practice is between myself and the canvas, but it feels like social media is a third person in the room that I can’t ignore.
You have just opened the atelier so everything is still brand new, but how do you see the atelier 5 or even 10 years from now?
A: I’d like to eventually open up galleries that are run by other artists in different cities. Give talented people an opportunity to expose and learn about the art world without the heavy contracts from major galleries. If you asked me this question 5 years ago, I would have never thought I’d open up a space in Paris. The certain thing is I’ll still be painting. That’s never going to change.
What are the requirements to wear Armando Cabba X Adidas shoes and where can they be bought?
A: I wouldn’t say there’s a requirement. Wear them whenever you want. Fashion is an art and art is something to share. Someone wearing my shoes with an outfit of their choosing is a collaboration. Right now the shoes are custom made special order. One of my goals for the future is to have a line out available in stores so everyone can enjoy them.