“To me this documentary’s subject,
to which I was subconsciously drawn
since my childhood, felt quite natural.
Even though it took us three and a half years
to make, I enjoyed every minute
of it. Because I finally found a way to
merge my two passions, art and street
life, and mould it into one documentary.”
Ever since I was a child I’ve been curious about life on the streets, images and objects. Adults would refer to this as ‘art’. Growing up in Rome I remember walking around with my father and asking him why the Roman Empire needed so many statues or why the Catholic Church wanted all their ceilings painted. My curiosity was so strongly expressed, that my mom literally had to ‘leash’ me so I couldn’t run away and get lost in busy crowds. When I had the age to go into town by myself, I could spend hours wandering around the old city of Rome. I loved getting lost in the narrow streets of historic neighbourhoods and go into hidden churches and try to imagine how life must have been in ancient times. I think this is where I really developed my fascination for art and life on the streets.
Once, in Rome, as I was walking back home I saw an old man sitting on the street. I thought he was a beggar, but when I came closer I noticed he was drawing something on the ground. The colours and beauty of his sketch overwhelmed me. And he was only using chalk. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Years later, in Holland, Peter Westerink from Planet Streetpainting came to Sander and me and asked if we were interested in making the first documentary about the Madonnari movement. “Who? Maradonari?” I had no idea what he was talking about. I thought it had something to do with fans of the legendary Argentine soccer player Diego Maradona. When I understood that he talked about street painters, I said “Yes!” straight away.
What excites me the most about street painters is the sacrifices they are willing to make to create art under the most extreme conditions imaginable; noisy streets, cold winds, boiling asphalt, heavy rains… When I look at an artist creating a street painting, I get very calm. It feels like you are witnessing something magical, something sacred. It’s like you are part of the artist’s world for a few hours. And the fleeting nature of this creative act makes it even more interesting. Because it’s all about that specific moment in time.
I also like the slow element of it. To fully understand this form of art, you really have to sit down and see the whole process of the drawing being created. Therefore we chose to make the pace and rhythm of the film kind of slow and dormant. After all, we are talking about slow art here. To me this documentary’s subject, to which I was subconsciously drawn since my childhood, felt quite natural. Even though it took us three years to make, I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. Because I finally found a way to merge my two passions, art and street life, and mould it into one documentary: GESSO, The Art of Street Painting
co-founder & director coldsun productions