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Luca Valentini, Keeping Pop Art Alive Today

Many avant-garde art movements compose the canon of contemporary art. As the successor of modern art, the contemporary genre includes art produced today and dates back to a single, iconic movement: Pop Art. While Pop Art began in the 1950s and was popularized in the 1960s, several iconic artists today, including Luca Valentini, continue to keep it alive through their exciting and highly regarded works.

Pop Art as we know it emerged among the New York artists Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Claes Oldenburg, among others, who were characterised by their portrayal of any and all aspects of popular culture that had a powerful impact on contemporary life; their iconography, taken from television, comic books, movie magazines, and all forms of advertising, was presented emphatically and objectively, and by means of the precise commercial techniques used by the media from which the iconography itself was borrowed.

Following the popularity of the Abstract Expressionists -  the post–World War II art movement in American painting - Pop Art's reintroduction of identifiable imagery (drawn from mass media and popular culture) was a major shift for the direction of modernism. The subject matter drifted far from fine art's traditional themes of morality, mythology, and history; rather, Pop Artists celebrated commonplace objects and people of everyday life, in this way seeking to elevate popular culture to the level of fine art. Perhaps owing to the incorporation of commercial and media images, Pop Art has become one of the most recognizable styles of modern art.

The well known Dubai-based, Italian pop artist Luca Valentini, who's myriad worlds depicted through his work have unprecedented pulling power, enticing consumers and critics alike, continues to keep Pop Art alive today. Valentini unravels his own past, aesthetic obsessions and fabulist fantasies through his new artistic work of symbols and metaphors.  Below, Luca Valentini shares some of his ideas on the key characteristics of pop art that make it so admirable and controversial in today's contemporary society.

What is the difference between pop art and fine art?

Pop art fulfils the primary needs of people and provides instant gratification, whereas fine art is more introspective and has different levels of interpretation. 

Who is the pop artist of 2019 versus the pop artist of the 1960s?

Today we are more sensitive to the mythology of society, and it has become a challenge to find our true essence and sense of purpose. I’m inspired by everything that I admire or catches my attention. Whether it’s fashion, music, movies or stage shows, I create a story or a meaning for every piece of art that I create. People generally glorify models, actors, and musicians, but to me, we are actually all the same. Composed of flesh, bones, and muscles, which is why I believe there is no need to glorify such celebrity figures.

What is your take on the future of pop art? 

Pop art has to disconnect from the graphic design composition because a lot of the new artworks from pop art artists nowadays are becoming saturated. The focus should be on the meaning of art, otherwise, those that claim to be pop artists, are merely graphic designers. I like to add grist to the mill.  The classicism of the cultural environment in which I live, the modern way of painting united with the contemporaneity of my subjects, and the depth of the messages ensure each piece has personality. I play around with my paintings, aiming to reflect a message in a different and unconventional way. For example, I like to create a twist on magazine covers and advertisements that express a certain reflection to others. To me, it’s all about addressing what can’t be seen in regular brand advertisements. I must always indulge in inspiration without fear or reverence. 

Lastly, tell us about your favourite, iconic pop art from the 1960s?

My favourite piece of pop art is, the 'Big Electric Chair' by Andy Warhol (created in 1967), the piece reflects on death as a social event. Andy elevates the aesthetics of the artwork to represent an economic phenomenon, which literally feels like a 'punch in the stomach'.

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