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Tiziano Marasco: an Italian artist in Prague

Painting on a black background. Only few do it. The result of this technique is far from classical painting; it is perhaps more akin to graphics. Tiziano Marasco is one such artist. His paintings, some simple landscapes, portraits, others much more surreal and dreamlike, are characterised by bright colours.

Interestingly, he did not study at any art institute or academy, but for some years he attended painting classes where he managed to learn the basic techniques and develop his own and personal one. had the honor of interviewing this artist, who decided to expat to Prague, where he has lived now for 10 months.

Q: Tell me a little about yourself Tiziano

A: I was born in the cold Friuli region in 1985, and after finishing high school I enrolled at the University of Udine. Studying Czech, over the past 5 years I have wandered far off in Eastern Europe, but also to Russia, Poland and Hungary. Eastern Europe has always fascinated me, so it was quite natural for me to stop in the Czech Republic after completing my studies. I have nothing particularly against Italy, but here more opportunities are given to young people and, although with several difficulties, it is easier for an artist to emerge.

Q: How did your passion for painting originate?                                                                                                

A: It is difficult to answer; when I was a kid everyone told me I had some skills. So, I spent my childhood drawing. My childhood dream was not to become a painter, but like everyone I wanted to be a football player. Then when I went to junior high school, I lost sight of this passion until the end of high school. At 18 I started to draw and my art history professor suggested that I attend some courses in painting. I started and I have not stopped since.

Tiziano Marasco

Q: You talked about traveling. Has coming into contact with lesser known artistic like those of Eastern Europe influenced the way you paint? Which artists inspire you?

A: Without doubt my trip to Russia was important for me. The Russian art of the 1800s and 1900s changed the way I paint, because they often painted on a black background, like Kuindži, for example.

I cannot cite Kandinskij, in his transitional phase towards the abstract (the one where he painted, for example, Colorful life). Then for me it is the essential aesthetic of prog rock, and Roger Dean, the author of many covers of Yes and Storm Thorgerson, the photographer who took care of the artwork of Pink Floyd from The Dark Side of the Moon onwards. In terms of canonical artists, Dali certainly has his relevance in the way I make paintings of fantasy, as regards the style of drawing, surely Klimt, Mucha Bilibin and Mucha.

Q: What do you mean with a “black background”? How do you create your works?

A "black background" painting

A "black background" painting

A: Every painting starts from a black background, dark or otherwise, no matter what the subject is. For landscapes I then do a sketch directly on the canvas and I paint, whereas for more complicated subjects I prefer to prepare the design on paper and trace it with sanguine. My painting system is not canonical, it is more like a drawing, except by using brushes instead of pencils.

To bring out the colors on a dark background is necessary to mix all the colors to white, and it is preferable to use complementary colors to make the subject clearer. For example, on a dark blue background it is good to paint things in the foreground using orange. The black background has the disadvantage of flattening the images, but allows you to paint much faster.

Q: Where do you get inspiration for your paintings?

A: It depends. For landscapes it’s easy. If I see a place (city, area, etc.) that I like, I just take the picture then I use it as a model. Other times, listening to music, I close my eyes and “see” something, or take some pictures or some movie scene and edit it according to my purposes. The best case is when the inspiration comes from my dreams.

These paintings are very few, but recognizable, because they are very close to Dali style, here the imagination is totally free, but in this case it is also much more difficult to revive the idea on canvas, because I have to work solely by memory and without any concrete references. I am not always satisfied with the result and I repaint the same subject several times over the years.

Q: You talked about Dali. Many of your paintings are quite enigmatic, but carry within them a specific message?

Another painting

Another painting

A: Only a few, and in fact, only my paintings of fantasy. Usually the message is not very reassuring and it is quite unlikely to be deciphered, as it contrasts with the vivid colors. Very often the issue is the difficulty to achieve goals (the painting of the eclipse). However, I prefer not to say what meanings the individual paintings have for me, so they maintain this cryptic element and anyone can interpret them as they wish.

Q: Coming to matters more concrete, how did you end up emigrating?

A: Actually, pretty randomly. During my study I have benefited from three scholarships, at the end of which I came back to Italy “overflowing” with sadness. I wanted to stop here in 2009, but I was evidently not ready. This year, though, I came here with the last scholarships. When the period came to an end, I started to look for work on the internet. Within two weeks I found some.  Then during the summer I moved from a student dormitory to an apartment, always found on the internet. There are still a lot of problems. It is neither easy nor immediate, but step by step you can fix the problems.

Q: What are the differences between Czech and Italian contemporary art?

A: The biggest difference concerns academies. Italians give more importance to contemporary art, installations, graphics, and so on. So you can establish yourself both with avant-garde works, but while remaining close to tradition. Here, however, the purpose of the academy is to make students know how to paint in an academic way as it was used during the Renaissance. And they don’t do anything else during their studies.

The reaction of the artists is spontaneous, seeking independence they tend to prefer the abstract and the majority of figurative works maintains childhood traits (like the illustrations by Josef Lada about Švejk), to underline a detachment from realism, besides wanting to highlight their individual artistic growth. A path quite similar to mine, with the difference that I made took only some simple courses in painting.
I did everything in a hurry and I have a much lower technical level.

Q: What about the future?

A: Conquering the world!
Joking aside, well, get a better job and try to give a little more substance to my artistic career, for instance, by exhibiting in a gallery. Back home? I don’t know. Maybe someday, but definitely not now.

Thank you for your time Tiziano, also on behalf of and

The works of  Tiziano Marasco can be viewed online here.
For further information please contact him at the e-mail address:

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