What’s the story behind El Gato Chimney?
I was born in 1981 in Milan, Italy, where I live and work.
My early interest in hip-hop culture introduced me to street art and writing and I became an active protagonist of the Italian street art scene.
This lead me to meet many international artists, which was a great opportunity to learn from the best teachers ever, as I am a self taught artist.
Which you like doing better, the big wall pieces or smaller work?
I like them both; the choice only depends on how I want to develop an idea.
Lately I have been working on canvas in my studio, because it allows me to work in a more relaxed way, but I still like doing big wall pieces, even though they require an adequate equipment and way more time.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
I have many and most of them may seem weird, for example I often find the right idea while reading a book – and I mainly read crime novels!
My biggest inspirations are alchemy and the Middle Ages, both strong presences in the history of my country.
Stylistically talking, I have to thank all the Flemish masters for the care in the details, Edward Hopper for the atmosphere and the colours, but above all René Magritte, with whom I share many beliefs.
How do you spend your free time when you’re not making awesome art?
Usually I read a good book or I go for a long walk in Milan.
I really like walking through the less trafficked areas of my city, I always discover new interesting things to see.
Who would win in a death match cage fight, Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie?
Difficult question, they are two of my favourite directors!
If I really have to, I choose Tarantino, I am sure he would organize a grand final scene, unless Kitano hears about the match and steals the scene at the last minute!
What was the last movie you saw that you really liked?
There are a couple of films that I am planning to watch that I am really excited about, such as The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus.
Speaking of animated movies, I loved Coraline and Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea… and I must admit my addiction to the TV show Lost.
Energy drinks or coffee?
I never drink this stuff, although I am sure that meeting an italian who dislikes coffee is a bit shocking!
Any exciting new endeavors you would like to tell us about?
Two books, mainly focused on pop surrealism and urban painting, are being released at the beginning of 2010: one is written by Joan Luna, a Spanish journalist, and will be called “Los Colores Del Underground”, the other one by Tina Ziegler, curator of the London gallery London Miles, and will be called “Hunt And Gather”.
They both feature me and many famous international artists, I strongly recommend to buy them because they will be amazing!
Other than that, I am going to be part of some group shows and I am working for my first personal exhibit in Italy, which will be at Avantgarden Gallery in Milan.
What can you tell us about your bird like creature with the red and white beak?
It is one of my favourite creatures, born from the union of three things I love: birds, spin tops and teacups.
I had spent many years painting mechanical birds and suddenly I felt the need to create something different with a carnival ride/steampunk feel, so I created this tiny monster reminding of a bird with a half spin top/half teacup body.
It immediately became the main character of my world and I particularly appreciate it because I believe that despite its apparent simplicity it can display a vast array of emotions.
Do you listen to music when you work? And whom are you listening to now?
Yes, all the time, music is really important to me.
I mainly listen to hip-hop, reggae and some experimental electronic music too, even though hip hop holds a place in my heart because it introduced me to street art and writing.
Sandwich or Burrito?
Definitely the former, especially because of the variety of cheeses and cold meats we have in Italy, even if I must admit that sometimes I can’t turn down a kebab…
interview by Adam