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Discovering Riccardo Malleo and his multifaceted digital arts practice

Italian artist Riccardo Malleo talks about practice and purpose, and where his digital craft originates from.

by Manu SharmaPublished on : Apr 17, 2023

Riccardo Malleo is an Italian audio-visual artist who creates a somewhat eclectic mix of works, with many resembling natural forms and forces while some speak far more to abstract art. And yet, there are unmistakable figures of spirituality as well, although these seem to be few and far between. His practice does not seem to limit itself to a singular body of motifs, and instead welcomes all of his many inspirations, rebuilding and reshaping them in the process.

Unstable States by Riccardo Malleo roils and rumbles like a digital storm, 2023, Generative art Video: Riccardo Malleo

The Italian artist introduces himself to STIR, saying, "I studied at an art high school, did some years of piano at the Conservatory of Music in Perugia, and I am currently learning VFX at the CSC National School of Cinema in Rome. I discovered my interest in video editing when I did some school projects curated by encouraging teachers, and I have become fascinated with the world of video art more and more over the years." It is interesting to think that European schools encourage their students to develop hobbies such as video editing; a practice that would be unheard of in many other parts of the world! If nothing else, it undoubtedly serves a set of skills that are increasingly in demand across industries. Malleo moves on to discuss the development of his creative practice in earnest, which happened when he was older. He says, "I started developing audio-visual projects because I wanted to explore various animation techniques and creative ways to combine music composition and video art. The works by Ryoji Ikeda, Tobias Gremmler and Bill Viola taught me that everything is possible and you can find your own path and aesthetic within the world of audio-visual art."

Heartbeat, 2023, Video of hand-drawn work Video: Riccardo Malleo

He focuses closely on all of the visual aspects of the pieces he creates, often presenting texturally rich worlds that draw viewers in. Malleo's videos also hum with a lazy, hazy languidity that tends to relax the restless mind, putting one at ease. His work seems first and foremost to be quite instinctual, and he explains his creative process to STIR saying, "It’s strange to rationalise my process through words, and to try and pin down an idea I have developed into a project. I guess it depends, really. Each individual case could be completely different from all of the others! Sometimes, I know how the artwork should sound or look, and sometimes I have a concept in my mind that I need to elaborate visually through a phase of experimentation."

Voyage, 2022, video footage and 3D, Riccardo Malleo | Riccardo Malleo| STIRworld
Voyage, 2022, video footage and 3D Image: Riccardo Malleo

Malleo couples automated and handcrafted processes, and mentions that he enjoys using frame-by-frame animation in tandem with new digital techniques, as he often finds the end result of their connection to be quite fascinating. Although, he isn't one to shy away from the most cutting-edge creative techniques, and remains ever-interested in the latest digital arts instruments that are available. "I really love the idea of creating a generative work as well. Following a generative process creates something that’s always evolving, while simultaneously maintaining its core personal structure. I feel as though this is really close to what nature is like: a perfectly structured body of chaos that follows its own procedural rules. The main idea here is to realise something that, even in its digital nature, feels organic and alive, almost like an invitation in cyberspace to go and explore our actual physical world," he says. There is a fascinating irony at play within the works of generative practitioners. This is that they apply some of the furthest digital tools in pursuit of emulating nature and its processes. Malleo joins these creatives through his practice, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the kind of artists he mentioned as being inspirational to him.

Han’ya comes straight out of Japanese culture, 2022, 3D, Riccardo Malleo |Riccardo Malleo | STIRworld
Han’ya comes straight out of Japanese culture, 2022, 3D Image: Riccardo Malleo

With regards to his current activities, Malleo is engaged with further education in the digital arts, but still manages to find time for his professional and creative pursuits. He tells STIR, "Right now, I am studying in a VFX school, but I also work on commissions. These can be anything really, from 3D promos to illustrations, and whatever else comes my way! I am uploading my works on the internet because I love receiving feedback from my fellow artists and discovering their creative journey. Sometimes, I also team-up with them, and organise exciting collaborations." Malleo expresses gratitude at having had the pleasure of being connected with kind people and supportive art organisations, and he finds it gratifying to know that some of the things he creates end up inspiring others to develop a practice of their own.

Artist profile, 2022, photograph, Riccardo Malleo | Riccardo Malleo | STIRworld
Artist Riccardo Malleo, 2022, photograph Image: Riccardo Malleo

The artist is participating in the NFT space, which he discusses, saying, "I exhibited an NFT during the 'Meta-Menagerie' event curated by, at the Culture Lab Gallery in New York." Recently, he was also selected by New Media Art and NeoShibuya for the '15s Museum' and the '30s Museum', to have his work played on 85 monitors and nine LED walls in Shibuya, Tokyo. This included two pieces by the artist, and he looks back on the opportunity, telling STIR, "Those events were fantastic and I am so grateful to everyone involved. Seeing your art in distant parts of the world is such an amazing experience." One can only hope that more such successes come his way, as the rapidly evolving digital art space will be all the richer for it. In the meantime, of course, we have the digital artist’s growing oeuvre to sink our teeth into, as a digital smorgasbord of sorts. His pieces are sure to engage and fascinate viewers of all ages, and perhaps through their captivating nature, they will inspire some to dip their toes in digital and generative practices as well. Malleo ends his interview with STIR by expressing his plans for the future. "I'd like to participate in other art events, perhaps even in live performances, and find enthusiastic collaborators who are open to experimentation and creative dialogue. A big dream would be to have a personal art exhibition somewhere, and to present my work to more people through that. I try to live in the moment though, and appreciate what comes in the present,” he mentions.

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