Interview with Millo for “At The Crack of Dawn”

Thinkspace Projects is proud to present a new solo exhibition “At The Crack of Dawn” from Italian artist, Millo who will effectively be bringing a bit of new Italian culture to Los Angeles.

This exhibition, from internationally renowned muralist Millo, is a collection of works in his signature predominantly black and white style. With detailed monochrome cityscapes and color pops to highlight the subjects, Millo creates the moment just before waking in a series of breathtaking scenes. The friendly inhabitants of each scene float above their urban settings displaying a blend of dream and reality. He crafts giant characters who are out of scale and often clumsy, confined to an urban habitat that forces them to invent new ways to live.

In anticipation of ‘At The Crack of Dawn’, our interview with Millo discusses how he taps into his imagination, early morning sketches, and more than a few memorable meals.

For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a bit about your background and when you were first introduced to Thinkspace?

I was born in 1979 in a small village in the southern part of Italy, I lived and studied there until  I moved when I was 18 years old to study architecture in Pescara where I’m still living. I have always drawn since I was a child, but I didn’t attend any art school, it was just my constant passion, my safe escape.

When I graduated, the economic crisis was hitting hard in Italy so work was not so easy to find and I focused more and more on painting and creating, and in the end little by little, what was supposed to remain only a side part of my life, became my whole life.

Thinkspace is so well known, even if I live on the other side of the globe, if you are in this field you know the gallery for sure!Andrew wrote to me 2years ago! He saw my previous show at the Dorothy Circus gallery and asked me if I was interested in having a solo in US… you know the answer!

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes or techniques were you exploring?

I had the chance during my career to investigate different aspects and themes through the creations of my murals.
Most of them deal with the will of empowering our feelings and our behavior towards each other and the whole system we live in.

My giant characters always out of scale and a bit clumsy, live in a chaotic urban habitat that gives them no easy space to move or interact and at the same time, forces them to invent new ways to live. Beyond this visible explanation, there’s in each work a multiple layers of meanings, interpretations and messages.

The urban setting, it’s a hidden critic to cities nowadays, inhuman and gray. The characters play our role by adapting themselves in a landscape avulsed and difficult, rediscovering step by step the pureness of simple acts. At the crack of dawn uses the same language to speak about the unconscious. It’s undeniable that what we all have experienced in these last 365 days has deeply affected not only my way of living but also my way of thinking and expressing my feelings. The initial shock of being merely stuck and scared gave me the time to recollect the topics of my imagination, and to focus deeply on what we were all simultaneously doing: dreaming, and what stands beside this process totally captured my thoughts and drove me along a new expressive path.

At the crack of dawn, it’s about a particular moment that I think everyone experiences, the instant between the dark and the light of the day, when the eyes are slowly opening but the dreams are still there. All the images I realized comes from there and so I think it may appear a little different from my works on murals. These new bodies of work are without the daylight filter, the excessive thoughts, they are something raw, straight from my dreams. I know I’m quite known for my black and white style, in this solo, there are definitely more colors and much more details, both in the background as in the characters.

What was your favorite way to expand your imagination in your youth? What is your favorite way to expand your imagination today? 

As a teenager, I spent literally a loooot of time listening to music and playing instruments, which for sure helped me a lot to project myself into another reality. Don’t forget the place I come from is very very small, and this, unfortunately, means not so much to do and having something to do even if it was just playing with friends or drawing all day,  it was the best way to expand my imagination.

Now, traveling is my favorite way and when it’s not possible, I’m a big fan of documentaries, I always look forward to discovering new habits, new perspectives.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

Sketching, it’s the first thing I do in the morning, still in my pajamas, with no coffee. I just slide from the bed to the kitchen table and I start to draw. It’s a kind of unconscious behavior, and that’s the part I prefer the most and that’s for sure where I got my best ideas.

Do you remember your dreams? Have you ever had a lucid dream – a dream where you could control what was going on?  

Yes, I remember my dreams, not always but quite often. And yes, a few times I had the ability to control what was going on in my dreams. It was a very unique feeling.

Are there any new habits or even shifted perspectives/priorities due to the last year that you will continue into the future?

I’ve been traveling quite a lot in the last 10 years, and this forced stop gave me the time to recollect all the memories and I would like to keep this behavior even once a month. Just checking in on what I’ve really done, the people that I had the chance to meet, and the things I liked or disliked.

You’ve been around the world painting murals; what was one of your favorite places to visit, and what about that location, the people, atmosphere, or culture that makes it so special?

It’s very hard to pick one, each place for me has its own memories and peculiarities. Maybe I have to say China, cause it’s the place where I stopped for the longest period. I’ve been there 3 times and each time for one month, it never happened to me to stop for so long in one place. It’s been a really immersive experience, into the culture, the history, the food…I definitely loved their curiosity and their pure and unique way to go over the language difficulties and communicate, no matter how hard it was, they always tried to communicate with me.

Do you remember your first mural? Where was the mural located, and what was the subject matter?

My first big mural was in a small town in Italy, m…they invited me to paint a very particular surface, half on a wall in bricks, half on the ground, and on the wall was full of caper plants. So, I decided to draw a giant naked character eating the plants. The old ladies of the village were laughing so loud for the naked part of the protagonist that made it unforgettable!

What is one of your most memorable meals? It could have been the food, the company, or both that made it an unforgettable meal.

This is soooo hard, I’ve got a long list of favorite meals, and I’m also Italian, you know how seriously we take this!
so just to say a few of them:
-Mapotofu in China
-Kinkhali from Georgia
-Shashlik from Ukraine
-Raw fish with coconut in Tahiti
-Couscous in Morocco.
I could go on for an hour at least.
Yes, most of these dishes were shared with my girlfriend or with other artists and for sure they made it more unforgettable.

If there was a machine to record your dreams so you could play them back, but you had to give up one of your five senses to own/ use one, would you want the dream recorder? If so, which one of your 5 senses would you sacrifice? Maybe I would give up the smell…as it’s already not so good. hahahahaha!

Opening Reception:
Saturday, May 1, 2021 from 3:00-8:00pm
*Masks and social distancing required

Leave a Comment Below:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.