Michelangelo Russo

Installation view, Containers Contained, Fortyfive Downstairs Gallery, Melbourne, Australia, 2019

More exhibition views here

Russo: Connected, Inspired, and Motivated by Italianità

I was born in Campobasso, capital of Italy’s Molise region, in 1962. As a teenager I frequented the studio of a local artist, Franco Iannelli. Almost every afternoon after school I was at the studio painting. Under Franco’s guidance I experimented with different painting techniques and subject matters, learning from the master in a typical Italian Renaissance manner. Those formative years passed at the studio will always have a sweet spot in my heart as they represent a very important period in my artistic career.

At 19 I left Campobasso to pursue studies in Architecture in Pescara and later, Graphic Design in Roma. In early 1990 I moved to Berlin, where I lived and worked until the end of 1993. Then I left for Melbourne, inspired by Australia’s light and space. Regardless of the city I am working in and the series I am working on I always feel connected, inspired and motivated by my Italianità.

In early 2000 I discovered encaustic, pigmented wax paint that is worked while molten. I find this material and technique not only suits my approach to artmaking, in which I use recycled and recyclable materials, but also connects me to the ancient artmaking of the Mediterranean region. Since  2017 I have been working on a series, Cartoni: Containers Contained, using cardboard and encaustic, focusing on structure, minimalism, and abstraction.

Being born and living in Italy for the first decades of my life, I am imbued with Italianià. It is part of me and my DNA. It comes out when I speak (I still have a quite strong Italian accent), when I cook, when I dress, when I work, and in anything else I do.

Cartone Giallo, 2019

encaustic on cardboard on wood panel, app. 49 x 44 inches (124 x 112 cm)

Grouping from the Cartone series, 2017-2019

encaustic on cardboard on wood panel; top row, app. 10 x 8 inches (25 x 20 cm), bottom row app. 8 x 8 inches (20 x 20 cm)

Inset: Cartone Rosa Antico, 2019

Scultura Blu, 2021

encaustic on cardboard and paper, app. 16 x 6 x 6 inches (40 x 15 x 15 cm)

Scultura Grigioverde, 2021

encaustic on cardboard, app. 14 x 10 x 6 inches (35 x 25 x 13 cm)

Michelangelo Russo

Photo: Jason Blake