Studio Visit: Stefano Di Cristofaro
The pieces that make me up.
Interview with Stefano Di Cristofaro
My name is Stefano. I'm 30 years old. I'm from Caracas, Venezuela. I work in design, branding, but what I'm really passionate about is drawing, art. That's what I've been doing lately.
How would you describe your work?
I would define myself as a cartoonist, I don't follow a line of design, painting or illustration. I don't get into that category because I feel I direct everything towards drawing, not representation.
How did you start in the world of art?
Since I was a child I've always painted and at some point I realized this was what really interested me. I remember that at school I already had art books in my library, so it was something organic. Like those children who are born to play the piano, I believe I was born to do this.
In your work, that world of childhood is still present. Do you remember some references from that time?
My approach has always been curious. I really like consuming art, especially painting. I have many references to Venezuelan naive popular art. As I went yo design school, I also have a design foundation that structures all my work. My first references were Henri Matisse, Van Gogh and M. C. Escher, who was very mathematical and that amazed me. In college I had access to a lot more content, and that opened my eyes.
Tell us about your last exhibition "Papillon"
There was a place that my dad and my mom started to have, practically the same day I was born. And that place has been transformed many times. It began as a haberdashery, then a lottery and in those mutations there was a time when it became a stationery store, let's say that this place has been the livelihood of my youth. That stationery was called Papillon because a few years before my grandfather (Papi) and my uncle (John) had died. My mom used that perfect mix.
The stationery made sense to me because of paper, this work is all made with paper cuts and in that place there was a lot of papercuts. It's a tribute.
Where do the Papillon characters come from?
I think of all that mystique and magical realism that Latin America has. My family comes from Barranquilla. I grew up on a street where there was a very diverse context. It was a small town, my corner. I always imagined that everything was like a García Márquez story. The street where I was born was called Calle Negrín, which was a sorcerer who cured a president. And like that there were many dark characters, like devils. I think that this idea of magic is also on the rise in Colombia. So I caught that, the music and the elements that gave me the idea of representing slightly fanciful characters. I wondered about the natives. My grandmother was practically an indigenous person. My family came from the jungle so I tried to approach that from my imagination.
What are the animals that inhabit that jungle like?
I tried to represent them in a way that wasn't so scientific. There was also something of the symbolism of things that not only attracted my attention for seeing them, but because they happened in my environment. My aunt, the partner of my uncle who died, told me that whenever she went to visit the place where he rests there were yellow butterflies. The same goes for the apple. I remember my grandfather sang a song to my grandmother saying that she looked like a little apple and I imagined my grandmother like a little apple. There is an approximation generally with the cheesy or the romantic that is usually sickly sweet. So I like in some way to have a support, as a graphic force. I've consumed too many images, I've done too many drawings, and that helps me to be able to represent something that's very romantic in nature, but doesn't read as cloying, but rather enjoys adult reading.
How long did it take you? How long have you been working on those pieces?
I lived in Chile with a friend who had an artwork of her father, which she took with her as part of her immigration suitcase. It was a drawing of a papaya made with paper cuts, and it caught my attention. Once, her father went to visit her in the house where we lived and we started to play the papaya game. From there began the motivation to cut paper, paste it and form things. That was four or five years ago.