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JAGO and the Future of Sculpture

Words:

Edd Norval
June 2, 2021

Jacopo Cardillo aka JAGO, has become a well-known figure on Instagram for his classical style sculptures. Although derived from the stylings and sensibility of the classics, the Italian artist has given them thoughtful and provocative twists, updating their aesthetics for a contemporary audience.

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Lauded with praise and awards, Jago has been recognised for his ability to capture the essential and inherent human emotions that were ever-present in the classics that he takes so much from. Indebted to the masters working during the Renaissance period, Jago deals with many familiar visual themes. Religion features heavily, with deconstructions of iconic figures differentiating his sculptures from those of his forebears. 


One such example is his award-winning depiction of Pope Benedict XVI, made in 2009 for the Venice Biennale. Upon the pope’s resignation in 2013, the artist carved away the Papal robes to create a nude breast of the former Vatican head titled ‘Habemus Haominen (we have man), symbolising his return from Pope to man. It is this provocative process, the willingness to break down something of such value, that differentiates Jago from his contemporaries. 


In another similar piece, the artist created Venere, an aged Venus who no longer holds the beauty of youth - the very thing Venus is known for - but is depicted as a modest elderly woman who hides her intimate body parts shyly from the audience.

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His art is interactive and, by extension, so is the artist. He sees himself as an entrepreneur working in sculpture, rather than a sculptor per se. The Italian cultivates this image through his public profile and willingness to engage in playful pieces. 


Building hype, the way MMA’s Conor McGregor would, Jago uses these platforms to exhibit his stand out pieces, but also to push them to pioneering new heights. He done so quite literally in 2019, sending a marble foetus up to the International Space Station, to later be returned by mission leader Luca Parmitano.


We are drawn into the process of the artist by his own openness and willingness to involve others, documenting his behind-the-scenes life extensively on video, both as a tool to advertise himself and as a statement about the artist in the contemporary world. Without any real formal training, Jago was an artist that many in the traditional Italian art world saw as doomed to failure.

His perseverance and reluctance to compromise his own principles gained him a reputation as more than an artist that makes art, but one that embodies what it means to be a contemporary artist in a hyper-connected world.

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