Claudio Parentela is an illustrator, painter, photographer, mail artist, cartoonist, collagist and writer who hails from Catanzaro, Italy. He is also one of our favourite artists of the year. Born in Italy in 1962, his work is a crazy, mixed-up stream of consciousness, spanning decades and playing off all kinds of artistic and cultural influence.
Claudio spent many years as part of the international underground scene collaborating with a huge collective of creatives on collages, zines, magazines, literary and contemporary art journals and comics across Italy and the rest of the world. His work is a gloriously gaudy appropriation of symbols from pop culture and the world of fine art.
A melting pot of styles and influences that have been expertly treated to form new, ironic meanings, his paintings and collages typically feature chopped up or exaggerated women taking on monstrous zombie plastic-fetish-freak forms, sometimes looking the pinnacle of sass and pride and others looking decidedly frightened by themselves.
There’s a discernible psychedelic vibe to many of Claudio’s collages, though not of the digitised, 2014 hipster design caste. The bright colours and free-form swirling shapes hark back to an earlier time. Warped faces formed of mixed materials seem like remnants of a Picasso-inspired acid trip weathered by a spun out beatnik in a San Francisco back room circa ’62.
In recent years he has created a series of outsider art-style tarot card series, t-shirts, prints, worked on shows and with the likes of NYArts Magazine, Turntable and Blue Light Magazines, as well as running his own network of art blogs in which he interviews and features underground artists from all over the world. Claudio’s style is satirical, off-the-wall, full on and incredibly playful.Mostly, it inspires us to make more of our own weird stuff.
Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth