‘PAINTING HER’ Exclusive Interview with Italian Hermetic – Claudio Giulianelli

La regina © Claudio Giulianelli
La regina © Claudio Giulianelli

Claudio Giulianelli is an internationally recognized artist known for his romantically surrealistic oil paintings of Italian women in traditional costumes. He was born in Rome in 1956 and from the moment that Claudio could hold a pencil he began to draw. Now, many years later, Claudio’s colorful, bright, and delightful artworks can be found in many collections around the world. Throughout his life he meticulously studied the Old Masters as well as philosophers and mystics, and in the process became a master of the brush himself. The World Art News is pleased to share with you our exclusive interview with this fascinating artist.

Can you tell our readers about your childhood, your family and the environment in which you grew up? 

I remember my mother used to say to her friends “just give Claudio a pencil and he’ll spend hours drawing…” In fact, my first artistic expression was with colored pencils, it was the year 1962 and I was drawing a puppet at Disney, thinking “one day I will be an artist”

What inspired you to actually become a full time artist? 

My great love for works of art. From an early age I began to collect books dealing with the great artists of antiquity. The first book my father gave me was the one about Beato Angelico. 


How would you describe your art style and how long did it take you to master it? 

Anyone who knows my works knows that I don’t have a physical model, these figures of women are born from my imagination. They are an expression of my soul. Therefore, in order to be able to paint without a model or use photographs, I spent years of hard study of human anatomy using special books and drawing from life using my wife as a model. 

© Claudio Giulianelli

What materials do you use and how long does it take on average to create a work of art? 

I usually paint with oil on canvas and sometimes on panel. I can’t say how long it takes me to make a painting because many times I go back and paint over it until I feel the artwork is perfect. 

How do you decide what size an artwork will be and what is the typical size of your paintings?

I usually buy canvases of these formats: 80 x 60, 70 x 50, 40 x 50, 30 x 20 cm. Then I place myself in front of the canvas and start to “dirty” the white surface with two contrasting colors until the surface becomes almost grey. 


Was it difficult to become a full time artist and what risks, challenges or setbacks did you face in your artistic career? 

For a certain period of my life I also dealt with other things so as not to have to paint what people or gallery owners wanted, I did this in order to live the life I wanted.

© Claudio Giulianelli

Were there any significant events during your artistic career that influenced your artistic development?

Yes, the meeting with great Italian artists such as Delfo Previtali, Guido Razzi, Alessandro Kokocinski, who advised and encouraged me.

How long did it take you to achieve financial success as an artist and what lessons did you learn along the  way?

Working hard, trying to improve the technique and the use of colours, day after day, until reaching a serene way of life which also allowed me to get married and have a child. 


What is your favorite artwork?

There are many works that I like, often the last one I paint is my favorite. But surely the ‘Legend of the tower and the fisherman’ is one of the ones I’m most fond of. 

La leggenda del pescatore e della torre © Claudio Giulianelli

How do you come up with new ideas and what makes your art unique?

When I paint, I get in touch with my deeper self, I enter into symbiosis with the energies that are around us.  My painting is the result of years of study of Hermeticism, being a follower of Bosch I have deepened the philosophical concept that was in his works and I made it mine. Then there is the experimentation…

I paint an invented Middle Ages, my works are influenced by the studies of alchemy that I have done over time. My ladies are unique, you might recognize one of my paintings among a million of other artworks. 

Who are your favorite artists and which artworks have influenced you the most? 

From the ancient painters Bosch, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Van Eyck. Perhaps Bosch’s ‘Musical Hell’, Caravaggio’s ‘David and Goliath’, Van Eyck’s ‘Arnolfini Spouses’, and Rembrandt … I wouldn’t know which to choose, there are too many.


What types of art do you like to surround yourself with? 

For my personal taste I like figurative art and especially symbolic art. There are many artists that I like such as Armando De Stefano and Alessandro Kokocinski.

In your opinion, what are the primary skills one must have to be a good artist?

To be himself….. the worst thing for an artist is that your art can be mistaken for another. Thorough knowledge of one’s craft, i.e. the technique and use of color, the study of color also from an optical point of view, therefore having a profound knowledge of complementary colors and how to use them. The study of ancient art has been of great help to me. 

Sto entrando nella torre © Claudio Giulianelli

There are so many artists today creating amazing art in a vast range of mediums and styles, do you ever feel the pressure of competition? 

I am a solitary painter, I hardly paint with other people. I close myself in my studio and enter my world,  there is no competitiveness, at least for me.

Are you interested in NFTs as an artist?

Yes, I am approaching this world through a curator friend of mine. 


What advice would you give to new artists who want to make art their career? 

Study the ancients! Study, study, and study. Mix colors with blood, sweat, and tears. Draw until your hands hurt. And be humble – but determined. 

Art is sweat, tears and blood.

© Claudio Giulianelli

What is the most expensive painting you ever sold?

In 1984, an Italian collector bought one of my paintings for 1,800,000 lire, which at the time was quite a lot. 

How much do your paintings cost on average, how do you value your work, and which paintings sell better, bigger or smaller? 

Normally a 70 x 50 cm is sold for 1200 euros. At the moment I have the coefficient 1. Soon my prices may go up a lot. I usually sell medium and small ones because they cost less and are within the reach of a wider audience.


How do you promote your art and from what countries do your clients come from? 

I promote my works through social networks and galleries. My clients come from Denmark, England, America, Spain and Italy.

Did COVID affect your work in any way?

I don’t think I had any big problems, this was an opportunity to work a lot. 

What is your view on how the art market is changing? 

In my opinion this historical period is very confusing from an art market point of view. I have seen works of great value by 20th century Italian artists being sold at very low prices, pennies, works that ten years ago were sold for thousands of euros! Then there are artists of dubious quality who, riding on trivial cultural trends, are sold for impressive figures. But history will be the judge…

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