ANV Member Interview: Maurizio Galia

Maurizio Galia is an Italian artist and art teacher, who has spent time living and working in London. Since graduating from Turin’s Fine Arts Academy in 1986, he has had a diverse career moving between graphic design, illustration and fine art. His professional experience has included working as a graphic designer for the Italian Defence Ministry, creating album cover artwork and illustrating both school textbooks and graphic novels. 

In the UK, Maurizio has contributed to exhibitions in London, Coventry and Norwich, and has taught a Fine Art component as part of a Fashion Design Course. Having recently joined Artist N Virtual as a member, we caught up with Maurizio to learn more about his work and career.

TNG: When did you first become interested in creating art, and what kind of exposure did you have to art and culture as a child?

MG: Well, I have to say that I learnt how to do drawings before learning to read and write. After the first years of primary schools, I recognized at once how beautiful the Renaissance was: the architecture and some of the great masters, like Leonardo, Raffaello and Michelangelo.

TNG: What impact has the city of Turin had on you? 

MG: Even though Turin is a little metropolis, well known in the world as an industrial city (the “Italian Detroit”) we shouldn’t forget some other important facts. Turin was a capital city until 1865, an important laboratory of art and culture in the last two centuries and a centre for avant-garde Artists who challenged the Fascist Government between 1925 and 1945, creating real masterpieces of painting, sculpture and architecture that are still compelling and fascinating today. 

My roots are there. For example, Felice Casorati – a great painter and former director of Albertina Academy in Turin until 1963 – was the master of my masters.

‘Portrait of Federica’ (1994) by Maurizio Galia. Oil on wood.
“The best portrait of my career. In perfect renaissance style.”

TNG: You’ve had a varied career, producing work for a range of different audiences. Which elements or activities have you enjoyed the most and where have you been able to find the most creative freedom?

MG: Good question. Not an easy question indeed! In fact, I have to go back to my teenage years for a complete reply. As a Fine Art student, when I was 17, I felt the extreme difficulty to be happy and well inserted as a professional if I was only a painter, or a simple illustrator. The Italian market was always hostile to those professions and I needed to be versatile. I started to be a graphic designer before my training was accomplished. I coupled my career as a graphic design with other activities like being an illustrator for books and graphic novels, and – occasionally – an art teacher.

Everything worked fine until 1999, but the following years were full of frustrating moments of pain and crisis. Breakdown of commissions and closed doors. Since 2015, I began to travel to London to find new business and new friends. I was lucky: my paintings were exposed in different exhibitions, well appreciated with sales and, in the spring of 2019, I became a Fine Art Lecturer for an institute in Brixton. To be a creative Illustrator and Fine Art Teacher is the part that I play best.

TNG: What would you say are the main influences on the work that you produce today? 

MG: I am influenced by music, history and great personages and characters. My Art is a mix of past and present… looking towards the future.

‘Tryptic of Berlin’ (1990) by Maurizio Galia. Oil on canvas.
“A celebration full of meditation about the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Iron Curtain”.

TNG: How do you find the experience of teaching? Is your approach influenced by people who have taught you in the past, and institutions you have studied at?

MG: Absolutely! I was very lucky to have had great masters as teachers. Some of them are still alive and sometimes they are still useful when I meet them for a coffee or conversations.

TNG: Have you enjoyed having access (pre-lockdown) to the art and culture on offer in London?

MG: Yes, of course. I was a collaborator for an association of Artists supported by the Anglican Church. Between March and June of 2019 I was a lecturer for a Fashion Design Course organised by the Bock Consultancy Institute. My task was to introduce the pupils to the world of Fine Arts and drawings. I hope for new jobs in London after the pandemic.

TNG: You previously worked for the Italian Defence Ministry. What was that experience like and what was the main audience for the content you were producing?

MG: I am Territorial Officer of the Military Red Cross. My rank is First Lieutenant. Some people might find the idea of a connection between the life of an artist and the life in the military very strange. Firstly, as a freelancer, this connection could help me in the future for adding value to my pension and, secondly, could be helpful for my job opportunities and potential collaborations. Don’t get me wrong: I am not a militarist. I am adamant to say that armies and weapons should only ever be managed by democratic citizens and common people, like me. Anyway, my task as an officer is to take care of the graphic design and the communications about the Corp, and to be a lecturer when we are managing refugees and displaced people.

‘Nikolaiewka’. A fresco painted by Maurizio in tribute to the Alpine Divisions (Italian Mountain Troops) who died during the retreat from the Russian front in 1943.

TNG: How much of a connection is there between the work you’ve produced as a graphic designer and illustrator, responding to clients’ briefs, and the work that you produce as an independent artist?

MG: Although I am always sensitive to my client requests, I’ve been able to find the space to insert my personality.

TNG: What artistic projects are you planning (or hoping) to work on in the next few months?

MG: The global pandemic affected all of my plans. However, I am working on two graphic novels. I have scheduled the end of these for next summer and, once completed, will resume work on some paintings. Meanwhile, I am rebuilding my contacts in London, because I want to get back there as an art teacher. My job opportunities in Italy feel more limited.

Maurizio Galia – Artwork in Focus

‘Passion’ (1989) by Maurizio Galia. Oil on canvas.

“This piece was inspired by the notion of pain and the fact that we are all alone, facing our pain. The painting was sold in 2017 during an exhibition inside Norwich Cathedral. I created prints on demand from the original painting, which was purchased by Vittorio Sgarbi and inserted into his personal collection. Sgarbi is one of the leading experts on Fine Art in the world.”

‘New Europeans’ (1983) by Maurizio Galia. Oil on canvas.

“Painted when I was 20, this piece was inspired by the idea of bringing together western costumes and African tribal masks.”

Interview by Richard Unwin.

You can follow Maurizio via his ANV profile.

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