This week we are talking to North West London based multi-media artist Alex Cazzato, who specialises in drawing, digital media, painting and videography. Alex's videos often involve fictional narratives and imagined scenarios through a blend of vivid visuals and repetitive beats.
Image description: a landscape poster showing a glitching and distorted image in neon pink, red and white, with bands of colour lacing across the screen. Bold black text in the centre reads Alex Cazzato, underneath in a smaller black font reads Alex Cazzato dot com.
Can you introduce yourself and your practice?
I am Alex Cazzato, a multi medium practising artist based in North West London. Currently making artwork for exhibitions and commissions, with aspirations to expand my work into clothing. Within the last few years, my style has seesawed mainly between pop like paintings and digital collaging, often combining these two methods of working. The three years spent at CSM really allowed me to venture into alternative ways of portraying my painterly ideas, whether that was through my own trial and error or from whom I shared the studio with.
During lockdown the function of exhibiting as a recent graduate was different to previous upcoming artists. I had an initial reluctance to tap into digital mediums for creating, but with only online exhibitions at the time being my best source for networking and bringing new eyes to my work, I understood an importance of your art being able to exist physically and digitally. Working back and forth between computer screen to canvas brings this fluidity to how I can interpret ideas. This relationship of how art can exist in a physical form and digital is a notion I explored in my third year dissertation; the spaces in and around a picture on a wall in comparison to a window on screen. It seemed fitting to how I began practicing putting my art through both lens’ seeing how a digital presentation of a physically made image can elevate it rather than just flatten it. This reinforced my interests in video making and photography. Taking inspiration from Sean Scully for my writing and painting made me think about how a computer screen doesn’t have to be as square as a canvas may look.
My interests in iconography, patterns and intensifying an image through overlapping can coincide with what I make on screen and off screen. The Acid House Smiley has been an icon which has been seen in all forms of my art; it's currently a forefront of my painting, digital collaging and branding for clothing. I like to create digital patterns, testing different colour schemes through saturating it which leads to larger scale paintings/mixed medium works.
Alex Cazzato, Acid House Smiley, decorated table, 2022
Image description: a cartoon smiley face drawn in bold black onto off white. The background is made up of fluid swirling designs in red, blue and green.
What inspires you to create art?
I can get inspired by other creatives, music, old sketchbooks and advertisements. As I practice with multiple mediums I take inspiration from a vast amount of contemporaries and it usually leads me to discover new people for latter projects. Aside to first hand points of inspiration, the reassurance I give myself is that I create art for fun and there isn’t a pressure I put myself under; I allow myself to make mistakes and take time on a piece. I give myself the freedom to be erratic or calculated in a process. Possibly reassurance is indirectly a way to inspire yourself to make art. Being motivated by your emotions, having a realisation or chasing conclusion where art work can convey an answer. What you are influenced by is as subjective as the art itself.
How do you approach creating a new project or piece of work?
I follow a variety of methods when starting a new project/piece, some ideas materialise quicker. Often I refer to older work I have archived to spark direction. I like to re-work past projects with the trials and errors I have done on the way; with my ongoing practice exploring ways to take apart and re-build subjects, I can make new work without having to make anything new. Collaborative conversations are another way to begin a piece, over lockdown I connected with many other creatives and it is really fun to bounce ideas. Smaller scale experimentation allows me to amend and piece together something, it is a quick way to put an idea in front of you. Always recording, gathering new sources this can stem from what I see on social media or the commute to work. It doesn’t have to be a constant intensity of collecting things to be inspired by, but it helps to bookmark things, its just about being aware of what is around you.
Alex Cazzato, Pink Breeze, video, 47 sec, 2020
Video description: a short vivid video depicting a highly saturated shot of a cherry blossom tree, that gradually zooms in. The spinning shot suddenly cuts to a kaleidoscopic image that progressively moves and transitions.
What drew you to creating film art?
Initially working a lot with photography, I saw my starting point of filmmaking as changing the viewing experience of locations I had photographed. Through simples sequencing of clips of revisited abandoned buildings, it made me think of film as a tool to bring the viewer closer to what’s seen on the screen and bring it more to life. Seeing film as a way to even further extract a setting or event and place it into a current state where it can be continuously re-lived, enticed me more to explore the medium. Although the subject of my videos that I make now are different to what I had made in University, I still like to follow the patterns and idea of capturing a place and contextualising it in film.
Do you aim to include narrative within your films or are they more experiential?
It varies, some videos follow narrative and some are more compilation esc in the format of spec adverts or short promotional videos. I would say even if my video making process is experimental, narrative can still lead and be injected into the final outcome. Ontogeny for instance is a piece which displays the result of a made narrative or imagined scenario;
"Minerals and fuels to power factories providing things for our consumption. Ontogeny exists as factories that keep functioning after humans disappear. The machinery running itself, eludes to the making of a digital and physical cross breed of human using its knowledge gathered from what used to facilitate it" - Extract from SKT Gallery press release for exhibition Fake Space, 2020.
An archive of video/photographic projects from my second and third year at university took an abandoned MOT station named Orange Tree Motors as the subject, my input revolved around its documentation as it was redeveloped into a Tesco Express. The narrative of the location as it changed over the months was writing itself, it was more about how my capturing depicted it. I could extract elements, a specific object, a certain time I recorded and give it a new sense of importance, give a possible origin or create an elaborate story. Although I would say the filming and editing processes were experimental, having narrative and points to reference expanded the overall project, it allowed me to contemplate how I could tell a story through my methods of filming/editing. Unintentionally a lot of my films have a balance of the two; experimental methods coincide to a narrative driven by the experimentation.
Alex Cazzato, ONTOGENY, video, 3:53 min, 2020
Video description: highly saturated short clips of factory machinery cut sharply to a harsh metallic beat. Seemingly random clips appear featuring food manufacturing, video games, eyes and sparks from machinery, creating an unsettling collage of video.
How important is sound within your video work?
Sound is important, it can solidify the emotional portrayal and be very complimentary or oppositional to other important factors like the colour scheme and timing. For setting a mood, sound can affect the temperature of a video. Sound is also an important element for strengthening a context/message. With my adverts, sound has been pivotal to the pacing and accompanying the colours/styles of shots. In contrast I have made work with no sound and it didn’t allude to the video having something missing. Triggering one less sense elevates the others, it can help the viewer focus on what they’re seeing; almost forces the viewer to be more definitive.
What kind of ideas are you hoping to present through your artwork?
Suppose ideas are unique to individual pieces, that being said I have created series or collections which follow a theme or have a stylistic consistency. I like knowing that some works can be more easily interpreted, sometimes an audience's reading can help the direction and also transitions into developing work. The ideas that drive my more recent painting or collage work have a starting point from something that inspired me, for example what I may see in advertisements (posters) or social media. My use of painting icons stems from my day to day use of devices which facilitate the symbols I see. It's like the paintings are projections of how these symbols can be manipulated and given a new context to how they are translated when on a canvas.
If I take an image and rework it through different mediums and stages of over-saturating it suggests how tangible images are that exist on screen, there isn’t a definitive framing, it's just like coating a painting with a new colour and starting from scratch. We can really condense and expand digital images but also what it represents. I like to think my work provides insight into how images exist in different plains, different surfaces, textures and how by overworking the image it can mislead the viewer of its starting point. I rework pictures and always refer back because I don’t have finished pieces, it's simply left until I go back to it. Art has a type of continuity but is still fragile because new ideas will alter how we engage. Ideas lead from experiences and questions steer discussions, both of which contribute greatly to how I make my work.
What will you be making next?
With plans to have a solo show next year spring, I will continue to build up a collection of work for that. Currently I am making collages that almost act as prototypes for larger scale hanging pieces. Earlier this year I re-decorated an old table, so working on more furniture is in the plans. Clothing pieces along with photoshoots and eventually new short films. I’m interested in venturing more into curation this year and next, I would make work and set up an event, which could be a collaborative effort.
Alex Cazzato is currently open for commissions and exhibition opportunities. For enquiries contact Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org or through social media messaging. View more work at https://www.alexcazzato.com or Instagram @alex_cazzato1.
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