The last of the Art lectures of the semester, visiting artist Flavio Favelli discussed his work as well as conducted desk critiques with each of the Art majors. Originally studying History in his native Bologna, Favelli is a completely self-trained artist. However, his work is far from Outsider Art. Rather, it stems from equal parts rigorous academicism and curious romanticism. Indeed, reflections from his childhood and the small, personal memories of daily experience form the foundation of his remarkable career.
His upbringing in the violent “Lead Years” of the late 60’s and early 70’s permeate through a veil of the sheltered, bourgeois lifestyle from which he came. During this time period, advertising exploded, American culture became the new hot trend, and cars took center stage as a marker of status and haven for youth culture. Indeed, many of his collage works from this time balance on the edge between the Arte Povera of Italy and the Pop Art movement happening almost simultaneously across the Atlantic. Favelli summed up this singular excitement in newfound consumerism by explaining that ad trademarks appealed to him because “they spoke of a new world.”
The works stemming from this conceptual base become a blend of symbols, an amalgam of desires, overlapped, remixed, sometimes almost completely obscured. Taking the form of collages, recombined posters, and logos stamped one over the other, the familiar names of Pan Am, San Pellegrino, and even early 1980’s pornography posters are sublimated and decontextualized from their respective products.
His next body of works examines these themes of hybrid languages between Italian and English, the growing fascination with American culture, and this time the effects and aftereffects of the 1980’s economic boom. Creating a series of “copy paintings” he enlarges images of credit cards, posters, and symbols, rendering them all in the same naïve, raw style.
His newest work, currently exhibited at the MAXXI Museum in Rome, is a memorial to Italian soldiers killed overseas, titled The Angels of Heroes. In this work, he reflects on the contrast between the secularism of the military and piety of the surrounding culture as he seeks to honor those who have died in the service of their country.