The Digital Design Magazine - 1999, Issue 4
Italian designer Alessandro Bavari regards himself as a direct heir of the great European fine-art tradition, a spiritual descendant of such renowned fellow-countrymen as Giotto, Michelangelo and Piero della Francesca - even though he has exchanged his paint brushes and can- vases for a Macintosh G3. Interested in art from an early age, Bavari began making photo montages when he was 15.
It was inevitable that he would go to art school, where the talent he demonstrated earned him a place at Rome's Academy of Fine Arts, but even while subject to this august institution's strict classical disciplines he couid not suppress his instincts to experiment. I started to invent mixtures of many kinds," he says. "l used tar, glue, industrial paint, various chemicals used in photography, obiects such as fossils and bones." And then, one day in 1993, he discovered the "magic wand" that would enable him to create whatever he wanted - a computer.
"Using all the traditional skilis l'd learned, I suddenly found thet I was able to manipulate everything, going far beyond anything I could do with purely manual techniques," he says, adding that he considers a computer to be, in essence, no different from any other tool of the trade, like a brush, a palette or a darkroom. After working as a painter at various galleries in Italy and France, he set up his own design studio, working in the early years with traditional media such as oils, inks, photography and engraving. Now, he work in add, in Direct2brain studios, specialises in computer animation and videos. Working whenever the mood takes him, sometimes deep into the night, the 36-year-old designer is still driven by the urge to experiment .
According to critic Max Vittori, he "belongs to that group of artists in constant technical and critical ferment, who are able to feel the importance of the tragic and happy events of human existence with a sensitivity that appears almost divinely inspired". Vittori goes on: "Bavari's symbolic universe is full of myths, allusions, allegories that have their roots deep in the Indo-European tradition.
The passing nature of beauty... the possibility of re-birth and life after death ... these recurring themes suggest the search for a new religiosity... in which the only certainty is that the soul can survive through art." Some idea of Bavari's take on life can be gleaned from his influences. These vary from such Old Masters as Caravaggio, Bosch and Van Eyck (all revolutionary in their day) to Max Ernst, Witkin, Brunowsky and Jan Saudek. His musical tastes run to the "decadent rock" of Nick Cave and Marilyn Manson and a German industrial-music group called Einsturzende Neubauten. Movie-making heroes include Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo The Iron Man), Alexander Jodorowski (El Topo and The Sacred Mountains), the animation of Swankmayer and the movies of Peter Greenaway.
Yet this thoroughly modern artist is also very much an ancient Roman at heart, gaining inspiration from the classical architecture and statuary that abounds in the Italian capital, which is only some 60km from where he lives, surrounded by idyllic countryside with access to lakes, woods, mountains and the sea. Asked to describe a typical creative process, Bavari explained how his Garden Of Hieronymus Bosch came about. "l modelled some obiects in Softimage 3D for insertion in the scene," he sald. "The landscape is from a shot I took some years ago in Costa Rica. And the crowds of people are actually made up of some friends, who kindly agreed to pose for me. "I started with a sketch of an idea for the composition.
After scanning in the pictures - that's the part of my job I dislike the most, it takes so long! - I composed everything in Photoshop, with many layers
I scanned in some painting I had done in olis and ink and scratch techniques, and then blended all the layers.
As often happens, the final artwork has changed almost totally from the original idea. I prefer to work with a very vague concept - it allows me more room for experimentation." Bavari works on a Macintosh G3 computer, using a Digital Workstation Alpha 500. He employs 21-inch Lacie and 17-inch Apple Trinitron monitors, Umax and Quickscan 35 Minolta scanners, and Kodak Digital and Nikon F3 cameras. His software include Photosbop 4. O, Painter 4.0, lllustrator 7.0, Softimage Extreme 3.7, Adobe After Effect 3.0 and Premiere 4.0. Yet despite all this high-tech equipment, he still sees himself very much as an artist, working within a long tradition of creative individuals stretching back to the time when painters made their own colours and worked on commission from the artistocratic patrons of their day. Only the tools have changed.