Widely considered as a leading authority on visual perception, Gianni Sarcone has written numerous books on topics ranging from optical illusions through to visual and critical thinking (see below for links), so we are absolutely delighted and honoured to be able to feature some of his work on the site.
In recent years, Gianni has acted as a juror at the Third Annual “Best Visual Illusion of the Year” contest in Sarasota, Florida (USA). In 2011 , his optical illusion project “Mask of Love” was named in the top 10 best optical illusions in the “Best Illusion of the Year Contest” (Naples, Florida, USA).
“The function of art is an extension of the function of the brain – the seeking of knowledge in an ever-changing world.” (Semir Zeki)
Did you study art?
I didn’t ‘study’ art, I’ve been PRACTICING art since I was very young (around 2 years old). I come from a family of artists: my father is a painter, my uncle was a renown sculptor, my grand-parents were painters… My youth was filled with colours, turpentine, brushes, and rich visual experiences. Art is for me as natural as a second skin.
Why do you like Op Art?
Op Art is short for Optical Art. In fact, the essence of Op Art is to play with our optic nerves to create the illusion of colours, dimensions and motion. Blank spaces, negative spaces, XOR spaces, interspaces, interferences, aliasing, repetitive geometric textures are the palette the Op Artist uses to create pulsating, rotating, or kinetic visual effects.
But Op Art isn’t only based on repetitive patterns that alternate optical contrasts (clear/dark, vertical/horizontal, straight/oblique, thick/thin, and so on), it is mostly a type of research that tries to achieve the maximum visual effect with the most minimal intervention. Some Op Art paintings are in fact both simple and effective.
I like Op Art because it involves a lot of study: you have first to understand how our neural mechanism of vision works, and then to unceasingly investigate new mediums and techniques in the field of visual design to achieve the best optical effects.
How do you make your art? What’s the process for making one of your artworks?
I have a very independent mind that pushes me to be creative everyday. Anything I see, read or touch, like movies, art exhibitions, newspapers, magazines, internet – while walking in the street or even when I am cooking for a crowd – are the beginnings for visual ideas. My main tool for catching these ideas is a pocket notebook I always carry with me.
I don’t make my art with a computer, software or any other material, I make it first with ideas. What interests me is the final impact. So, I don’t care about the media as such, because I am skilled in any art medium or in any old or current graphic editor.
All my work is based on the same essential principle: awaken curiosity.
Any other art you like and other artists that inspire or have inspired you.
I like in general modern art and I am very eclectic in my preferences: I appreciate Joan Mirò, Alexander Calder, Jean Tinguely, Kasimir Malevitch, Lucio Fontana, Georg Baselitz, Daniel Spoerri, and even Odilon Redon… In short, I take inspiration from any artist who strongly puzzles me. Besides Op Art, The Bauhaus School and Suprematism are probably the art movements that most resonate within me.
Anything else you like doing or you want to say?
I am an adept of the ‘wabi-sabi’ aesthetic, I like simplicity and raw sincerity in every branch of art. My preferred quote is: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)
I am also a devoted martial artist and am an expert practitioner of Taekwondo and Ju-Jitsu.
A selection of books by Gianni Sarcone on Amazon.co.uk:
To see some of Gianni’s excellent Valentine’s day Op Art, see here.