Stefano Ronchi

by Lina Vergara Huilcamán

I only wish to concentrate on my painting, on my research

I am 29 years old and I have been living in Milan for one year. I have been working as a professional painter for three years. I have moved to Milan because I met a patron, a figure that still exists nowadays, who, in exchange for a few paintings, allows me to stay here. I pay the rent with my paintings. I met him thanks to my parents’ charcuterie nearby, where some of my works are exhibited. He saw them, he liked them, and I could move here, in this beautiful place, so lively and full of beautiful people. I want to move abroad, because in Italy a young artist’s work is less important than his/her curriculum vitae. You must have already exposed your works in a solo exhibition, or you must have some money. You must pay to exhibit. But I am always broke. But I am happy I can live this way. Even if I would like to find a gallerist who decides to bet on me. If you are essentially a painter, and you have to deal with the economic and logistic aspects, it becomes hard to be a full time painter. I am a painter. I have reinterpreted the karma and all this Buddhist stuff, I have embraced them and they help me to be always positive. The negativeness, all the wickedness, I throw them inside my paintings. When I suffer from anxiety, paranoia, I pick up my pencil and throw everything inside my painting. This is why they are full of monsters, death…  this is useful to exorcize them, almost as a therapy. Yes, I get anxious for anything. Anxious. Anxious… for anything.
Drawing and painting have helped me a lot. Both to find and to manage myself. Even if I visit some friends and I feel slightly inhibited because I am shy, I have my Moleskine notebook and I draw. My screen. I stay there, draw and feel better. Then I exchange also these small drawings. They are like money that buy things I may need. The only thing a penniless artist, like me, can do, to pay the rent, tattoos, t-shirts, anything... beer, joints... is swap! I will soon move to London, especially because I want to follow my love, my girlfriend, but I hope I will be able to improve as much as to earn some money too, because money don’t suck, I would like to buy a Dylan Dog at a kiosk. I like first issues, I would always buy first issues. The cup, the little monsters, I would buy a lot of them… and then to travel… to go to the States. I don’t believe in the American dream, but all the artists that moved to America: Piazza, Rivabene... they went there and, dammit!, people hold them in a higher esteem, especially if you are a more refined Italian that has attended the Academy, attended Brera… but in Milan, if you have attended Brera, they seem to think that you suck. Imagine that it is no good to say you are a painter, this is why I always define myself as an illustrator, because it seems that a painter doesn’t do anything, whereas an illustrator is taken a bit more seriously. I would like to go there and find somebody who takes care of me… Put me in a basement like Basquiat! I only need food and water, and I won’t make a move, indeed I don’t make a move already. I am not cut out for economics, I always have somebody that helps me. I wouldn’t sell my paintings, I wish I could have a wall with all my works, the frieze and the life of Munch, but I need money, therefore every time a piece of my life goes away, one to Rome, one to London. I wish I had all my paintings and whoever wants to see them can come to my home. I am here. Gallery directors call me, but they want to be paid. You should pay to exhibit. Why should I pay myself? It is an investment, I know, because if you hold an exhibition you may sell your works and recover your money, but I am penniless. Furthermore, all is wrong in Italy. You can visit the Tate Gallery for free, if you want to see something in Italy you have to pay 15 euros. Abroad, Italy is considered as an open-air museum, it is true, but you have to pay for anything you want to see. Inevitably young people don’t go to museums. Seeing Klimt at Palazzo Reale costs 15 euros, Planet of the Apes 3D at the cinema costs 6 euros...  where do I go? To the cinema! And everything flattens out. Young people are forced to run away! Not to mention the fact that you can’t find a job. Art means everything to me, and I need to do my stuff: the washing machine, the clothes dryer and a million things to do, if I also need to promote myself, who is going to paint? If I also need to follow emails, social networks… when will I be able to paint? I only want to paint. The gallerist and the curator should deal with these things on my behalf. So now I am going away and see if I’ll be more appreciated elsewhere.
I have lost my will in Milan. People tell me that I am disturbing, but my paintings are full of funny little stupid things, but this doesn’t mean anything to them, they think they are only drawings, it doesn’t matter to them that it took me one year to make them. I think that art consists of carrying on the research of somebody who died until you die yourself, so when I die somebody will take my research and carry it on. It is an endless flow. The painter’s life is meaningless. Well, it has a motivation: immortality, to hope that in 500 years somebody will study my stuff and carry on my research… it is a good motivation. To see Michelangelo and Leonardo... 500 years after their death... your own life that survives you, but I would like to be acknowledged before I die. I keep all my pencils, all the stumps, because if one day I am invited to the Biennale, or to Art Basel, that are art’s scopes, I will hold an exhibition of my pencil stumps: here are all those pencils I used to get here, I would say. Egocentricity. I want to hold the exhibition. My work exists to be seen. There is also a relationship between me and art, my therapy, but I want to be seen. Compete with the masters and think I can be considered a master is motivating and everything should be perfect, therefore, with my magnifying glass, I scan and look at everything meticulously because everything should and will be perfect. I look for financial tranquillity. Money is my paranoia. How to pay the rent. I only wish to concentrate on my painting, on my research.