Meet Davide di Taranto, the queer artist that promotes diversity through his work

Davide di Taranto is a talented artist offering queer versatile art using different techniques and styles. His name comes from the city of Italy where he was born. Davide has exhibited his work all around the world showing how art can bring people together and can promote diversity.

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After graduating in painting at the Academy of Fine Art in Florence in 1988, Davide started doing exhibitions in Italy and abroad and presented his work as a metaphor of his mental state. In 2000, Davide started his career abroad. First stop, New York. Living in New York for him was like venturing into a jungle. In this period, in fact, he painted only monkeys with black ink on large sheets of recycled paper that he exposed in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

In 2004, he went to South Africa and started to paint himself in the role of painter on the canvas. Then he had a big show in Naples. In 2006, he moved to the north of Paris where he was inspired by the flight of the aircraft. In 2010, he came to live in Brighton and in 2012 he met a Japanese named Hiro at the Japanese Brighton Festival and this coincidence changed his life. Thanks to him, Davide presented an art project for Hiroshima in 2013. In this exhibition, Davide picked up the symbol of the rainbow flag as a symbol of peace, then he painted it as a mandala and he named it “Rainbow Circle” which was the title of the exhibition. Now Davide is a happy artist living and working in Southampton (UK) and recently he has started creating the “mini-me” puppets that can bring lots of pleasure and happiness to their owners. 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

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Is Davide Di Taranto your real name?

Yes, this is my real name.

Tell us some things about you.

I’m 51 years old and I’m from the region of Puglia in the South of Italy. I graduated at the Accademia delle belle Arti in Florence in 1988. I’ve been living in the UK for 8 years and I currently live and work in Southampton, Hampshire. In my spare time, I go to the gym; I enjoy cooking and going for long walks in nature.

Painter, illustrator, sculptor, artist in general. What describes you better?

None of the means I use to express myself, either as a performer, painter, illustrator or sculptor has more importance than the other. They are all part of the message I want to convey about my vision of life in general. Everything evolving around me is seen through the eyes of a self-depicted artist (myself) in a somewhat ironic interpretation.

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How would you describe your work? And how has your art changed/evolved through time?

My work could be described as minimalist and visionary art. In order to depict the true nature of things in the material world, I try to represent the invisible energies surrounding us. My art projects will take different forms and shapes and evolve around the theme of ephemerality of the material substances and the never-ending continuity of life. My work is in constant progress.

What is art for you?

For me Art is a representation of the present moment seen through the eyes of the artist.

What is the message you want to convey through your art?

Nothing lasts forever, everything changes and takes different shapes. I like the ludic aspect of art and enjoy very much playing with it.

You have worked in galleries all over the world and your portfolio is very impressive. How would you describe this journey?

Every single work experience I’ve had around the world has given me a lot of positive energy to complete my projects. The people I’ve met and the places I’ve been to have all contributed to give me a great source of inspiration.

What are your inspirations?

The wonder of nature and the interconnectedness surrounding us.

What have been the best career moments to remember?

I recall my time spent in New York in 2000. New York is so diverse and energetic it completely widened my vision I previously had of art. I came back full of new ideas. In addition to that, I would mention the exhibition I did in the city of Hiroshima in 2013.The particular atmosphere emanating from this peaceful Japanese city combined with the rich Japanese culture in general have given me the base for all the works I did after my stay there. In anticipation to the 6th of August 2015 Peace commemorations taking place in this city, I had chosen the theme of peace for my exhibition. The theme is extremely sensitive for the people of Hiroshima and for Japanese generally speaking. I will always remember how curious my visitors were, especially the younger generations.

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credits: Manel Ortega
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credits: Manel Ortega
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credits: Manel Ortega
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credits: Manel Ortega

How did you come up with the idea of the male puppet dolls?

The puppet dolls idea came up about 3 years ago while I was sorting out the clothes I didn’t want to wear anymore. I thought to myself : “why not use all these unwanted clothes to make something out of them?”. I then took a pencil and drew the shape of a body in exaggerating its features like drawing enormous feet, hands, nose and the sex! I started to advertise them on Facebook and Instagram and they became an immediate success.

How difficult are to make and what do they require?

The first step is a good photo of the person I need to work on and to find out a little bit about them. This enables me to pay particular attention to details and most importantly to try to identify the personality of the person. One puppet takes approximately one week to make.

What are your future plans?

I’m currently working on a project with recycled clothes.

How has the evolution of social media impacted your work?

Social media has been of tremendous help for me in the last 4 or 5 years in finding the right contacts. It’s also a great mean of communication.

What has been the weirdest request you have ever had?

The weirdest and probably the funniest request I’ve had took place in New York not surprisingly. I was in a private party with my friends and went to the toilets after drinking a beer or two. Inside, to my surprise, there was a guy standing behind the door holding a polaroid camera. I then approached the urinals and noticed, to my second surprise, displayed on the wall, a collection of “private parts” from the previous toilet users. The “photographer” then asked me if I wanted to complete his collection of photos and I agreed to his request!

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More of Davide di Taranto here: www.instagram.com/davideditar

You can see the paintings of Davide di Taranto at the Mall Galleries, London in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition until the 25th of May.

*all images are courtesy of Davide di Taranto

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