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Rhodri Puw. Tell me about your cycle.
Samuel Bridi. My cycle was begun in 2002, I had made some formal discoveries which seemed to combine well with some scenes from Irvine Welsh, who often talked about disquiet, restless young people and frequenters of discos, bars and rave parties, at the same time I noticed that my generation had an abnormal habitual propensity towards alcohol and psychotropic abuse. I thought this an important signal denoting that something important was happening, themes such and nihilism and hedonism obsessed me for years, the psychological disquiet of the young was increasing alarmingly.
R.P. Why do you think that there was an increase in psychological disquiet?
S.B. There are a lot of motives, the future was seen as difficult and menacing, because of political steps centered on the precariousness in the workplace, as well as a deep idealogical gap, the extreme weakening of the Catholic religion and a mass “Berlusconi” culture constructed by television in models and dreams impossible to copy. From class struggle to class imitation in spite of the constant economic weakening of the country, then in 2012-2013 the term crisis arrived caused by economic questions. I had already seen the beginning of this crisis in 2002, I had been very intuitive, the crisis was cultural, an absence of values had anticipated economics, perhaps it is also the cause, these are certainly elements chained together and influenced my work.
R.P.- Why did you concentrate your work on discos and raves?
S.B. I’m interested in creating a global psychological dimension, sketch the spirit of an epoch, in these places euphoria embraces drama, it’s from this I came up with “Into the shadow of a rainbow” as a name for the cycle. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves but in the background I catch an attempt to escape, a type of suffering, particularly in raves there is a massive use of drugs, I’m not moralizing, I’m just collecting testimony of an important change; this will be remembered as the chemical generation. My work pictures the decline of Italy told by the young, they are those who have catalyzed the most anxiety, fear and uncertainty. The point is that they started to catalyze in 2002 (maybe even before) whereas the term “crisis” belongs to 2013.
R.P. Yes but you started this when you were twenty, right? I’m talking as a musician… I mean you played “Avantgarde Black Metal” ! Very introspective and esoteric music, a sort of “Progressive” but very aggressive…
S.B. Yes I know what you mean. I remember that at the time I used to parallelize our generation with that of our parents and the revolutionary ’68, I created difficulty for myself, music was a good starting point, if you remember the bands of that time were introspective and researching, whereas I found discos to be empty, not enthralling from a musical point of view but extremely spectacular visually. The atmosphere was also important, fundamental as a starting point for my work. I took my photos…..from there it was a short step to looking for raves which I entered and paradoxically the atmosphere is much more potent and violent but there is also a kind of nearness and communion , a kind of fraternity, whereas in discos I often saw dissociation and lack of communication.
R.P. But wasn’t it dangerous to take pictures in a context where drugs were circulating?
S.B. Certainly, to begin with I used a throwaway, you know those Kodak cameras? So I wasn’t too noticeable… then I moved on to digital… the flash is a problem, if there are three people on the floor in a huge dark warehouse and you start seeing lamps of light… When they arrive on the scene I’m usually gone. I always change the faces, at least they’re not recognizable.
R.P. After taking photos they become something else. You go over them lots. Why?
S.B. Yes of course. They become a psychological dimension, a mirror of me and my time.
R.P. I have the impression you’re trying to hide the autobiographical component! I’m sure there’s loads in your work.
S.B. Hahaha... You’ re right… it has been a trying introspective journey, do you remember the saying by Nietzche “Be careful when looking into the abyss or it will be the abyss looking into you” it went just so! I went to pieces, It has taken me years to mend. The biographical component is present but I don’t think you need a list of my mishaps, all my work is full them, there’s no need for words for my experience in life.
R.P. What is the “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.U.M”?
S.B. All “The Into the Shadow of the Rainbow Cycle” is influenced by the “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.U.M”, an alchemic achronym meaning “Visita Interiora Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem Veram Medicinam”, visit the interior of earth, one’s intimate psyche, and by rectifying find the hidden stone , investigating find your intimate essence and true will, the hidden stone, the true medicine. It’s a complex introvert journey in which the individual trasforms and gets to know himself through three principal phases: “Nigredo”, “Albedo” and “Rubedo”. The art cycle represent a sort of diary for the anxiety of contemporaney youth and in the same time represent the trasformations withing my mind and soul during 14 years, influenced by this tiring introspective journey called V.I.T.R.I.O.L.U.M . “Into the Shadow of the Rainbow” has two key of interpretation.
R.P. Your visual art work is the same as well. You have done a lot, can you explain this strange technique of yours. This “ multiple passage technique”.
S.B. I take photos, I spread a thick layer of glue on them and then I work on the photo with ink and pastels, building up a magmatic and dirty surface, I then scan them and re-elaborate them with Photoshop, the objective work combines with that subjective to pictorial intervention, then I print them and work on the print with acrylics, biros, felt-tips etc the I go to a printer’s and enlarge the result by the use of the plotter, then I re-elaborate and go back to the printer’s, scan again and re-elaborate the colours on the computer….print again etc. This is just a synthesis because it’s a very long and complex procedure made up of many steps.
R.P. I’ll ask the silly question. Who influenced you?
S.B. Everything influences me but I do have artists who I prefer, Bacon above all... also, Toulouse Lautrec, there is an evident parallelism with what he did, going to dance halls, and what I do… certainly all that is expressionism but also abstract art has influenced me a lot, some of my artwork denotes abstractism… and Michelangelo’s Universal Judgment with that turbine of bodies.
Interviewed by Rhodri Puw, ex manager and guitarist of the Welsh Rock band “Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci”, art lover and collector.
Rhodri Puw Samuel Bridi