Kitchen Table Artist Residency: Ebi the Serious
The Kitchen Table Artist Residency is an ongoing conversation with different artists on subjects in which we connect.
For our first installment we connected with Milan-based incognito, "Ebi the Serious".
Amidst the chaos of 2020, a designer in Milan found a way out: by going within.
The pressure of the strict lockdown in Milan pushed Ebi over the edge and into a personal renaissance, he became Ebi the Serious: A split-persona and alter ego through which Ebi liberated himself from creative attachments.
This gave way to a whole new line of work involving all sorts of playful, emotional characters scattered across different mediums and styles, including paper cut-outs, ceramic, digital, and now clothing.
That's when our paths crossed. After getting to know each other we decided we needed to invite him to be our first official artist in (virtual) residence. Together we developed a limited series of products, available soon.
“Then the covid came and the lockdown with it. All of this started to become a little bit suffocating, and my productivity fell. So Ebi came to rescue me.”
I'm from Caltana, a tiny little countryside town in northern Italy. I did my high school in Venice (yeah on the island in the lagoon), fell hard in love with the city and moved there as soon as I could. I wanted to escape the little town I guess, I was interested in drawing, art, music, anime, esoterism and shit, while guys my age over there only spoke about their favorite soccer team, or, I don't know, the car they would buy when they'd make money being mechanics for trucks or stuff like that. I guess I was looking for some fresh air, and I found it! Venice was a more inspiring environment. I was doing graffiti in my town with some older guys and this gave me the chance to get to know and paint with some big names in the scene at the time. I was on my own and working as a waiter (big thing in Venice), so when I got enough money I decided to subscribe to an experimental art university over there, just for fun, to measure myself with the real thing, you know. I got in and graduated with big grades. There I found a method to my madness and keeping my naive approach I kinda developed my vision. After that I dwelled on the island for a while, till the feeling of challenge myself got me. I wanted to raise the bar and I subscribed to a design master in Milan. Went there, did my thing, and now I'm a freelance graphic designer, here in Milan, trying to push my things, in my 30s, haha trying to be happy.
How long have you been drawing and making art for?
Ebi is actually pretty young. Let me explain. So I've been drawing since I was a kiddo. My mom would give me crayons and pencils and I could spend hours sitting and drawing. Since that I changed different media and approaches, I started graffiti around 2006, very young, during school I was sketching all the time, mostly letters and few figures. Then during the bachelor I experimented with the first proper paintings and stuff (2010), always with an eye for design, brand identity and illustration. Basically from there my personal research split.
From one side I got very much into the disciplines I was studying at the university (Visual arts and performance) and I went down a path of very serious research about ritualistic nature of art and the "magical" connotation of more or less ancient representations. From another I never abandoned the simple colors and shapes that graffiti filled my head with, bringing me to produce some "naive" artworks that I considered kinda bad. The first research got me good, I read a lot of books about semiotic, symbolism and ritual conception of art and for a while my production has remained tied to this kind of imagery. It led me to experiment with tattoos, ancient iconography and such. The research deepened as I did my master, exploring questions like Can someone perform a ritual as art? What would be the meaning of it in the contemporaneity? Is it possible even to scratch at the surface of what in ancient times was considered magic through the visual artifact? Heavy stuff.
Then the covid came and the lockdown with it. All of this started to become a little bit suffocating, and my productivity fell. So Ebi came to rescue me. I felt a strong inspiration towards more semplicistico subjects, and the pleasure of producing something that came so easy. The missing contact with the outside world and the nature brought me to naturally lean toward this "naive" approach to art. This "Dumb Ebi thing" became the only subject of my paintings and digital graphics and it took a while for me to accept it but, contaminate by my previous research I percieved this moment of shift as an intervention of some sort of power through the divine mechanics of art. It took shape and identity of his own, and I let him do. He names himself serious but he's the king of silly, he just wants to smoke pot and paint, see, we are best buds now! *sound of a loud high five*
Was there a specific moment when you realized or decided you wanted to be an artist?
I don't like the word "artist" very much. It's something hard to frame in a word. But I always felt the urge to put out things, in a visual way. So, i cannot determine a specific moment in which I felt "transformation" into an artist. Not sure I am one still. It's rather a series of different moments, in which i saw things, performances, read something into an art book, saw an exhibition, spoke with inspiring people, every little step formed my vision toward art and kinda sharpened my tools to grasp it, but one can never hold such a thing proper.
"Like a wizard I choose the ingredients to be part of the magic"
What is your favorite part of your creative process?
My favourite part is diving into what the media suggests. I'm lately experimenting with clay, for example, I get excited by the feeling of not knowing what the heck I'm doing in a certain sense. Like a wizard I choose the ingredients to be part of the magic, I can try to imagine it but only with the hands at work, trying and juxtaposing I can understand if it works, how I can improve it. I like very much to do this, to have a dialogue with colors, shapes, materials, symbols. That's what makes it for me.
Any fun fact about yourself?
Fun facts, let me think... well the fact of me conceiving my personal aesthetics as split parts of my personality doesn't count I guess.. I like to cook! And I feel almost more confident about my dishes than my art. Different kind of magic, still very much magic.