This interview coincides with Hunto’s solo show, based on his sketches, at Roktic East on Brick Lane (London), launching on March 21st.
There are numerous graffiti writers who have successfully transitioned into the contemporary art World, many of whom still enjoy both painting large-scale walls outside. It is interesting to see how their backgrounds have affected their art. Italy’s Hunto is a great example of the positive artistic benefits of a having graffiti background – the flow in his work is unmistakable despite his obvious transition away from ‘traditional’ graffiti. He can paint versions simplified versions of his work relatively quickly, is comfortable with his artistic process being public, and his work is economical insofar as the same lines can flow between different characters across his paintings. We wanted to find out more!
The History of Hunto
I’ve been doing art since God created me. I started painting walls around 1997 in South Italy, where I come from – when I was 16. At that time I was into hip-hop as a movement, so I used to bboy [breakdance] too! I started like most kids – tagging with my friends at school who were lovely people. Most of my early pieces were with my friend Phen, we grew up together in the same neighbourhood, where we spent most of our time. We were poor and graffiti was a lot better than what a lot of other people were doing. As for my name? Honestly – I just liked the sound!
With Mr. Wany in London (part of the #WallsProject)
Many people ask the meaning behind my art – if I need to explain the meaning maybe I’m just not doing it well enough! To be honest, I’m not really that comfortable calling myself an artist – I don’t like it! There are a lot of things that don’t appeal to me in the World of art so it’s not always a good thing to be called; I hope you understand what I mean!
The people who know me know I wasn’t a fan of school – I left when I was young. I’m not shy talking about this – I don’t know much about the history of art, dates and names, like a lot of other artists do. I just like to do art; it’s better than talking about it! Where I grew up I didn’t really have much opportunity to go to college either. All of that said, it’s clear Picasso was an influence – books about his art were all I read when I was a child.
My graffiti background was bombing and characters – its reflected in my quick style and my striking colour combinations. When you have to paint quickly in dark places maybe you get my style! I always liked to simplify things and that’s how my style became like this – I don’t like to think too much when I’m drawing, it’s the same when I’m adding my colours.
The subject matter in most of my work is sex – that’s the simplest and best way to reach most other people! We were all created by sex – that’s why there are billions of us on the planet! Sex and women inspire me! Sex is beautiful – it’s beautiful in both real life or to see as a subject matter behind artwork.
Aside from my outdoor work I do also do some gallery shows. I started making canvases in 2006. I made the majority of my canvases in England. I also love sketches. Sometime I prefer them to my canvases or walls! There’s a huge different between indoor and outdoor work – it feels different to me too. Sometimes I think my canvases are like details from my wall pieces. Still, I feel my sketches are the best way to put a message behind my work.
When I have painted with Wany (Heavy Artillery Crew, MSK – currently based in Milan) I’ve learned many things and been in many situations. He came from the same city as me and helped me develop a lot. If I am an artist then it’s for my mother, who I love and want to make proud.
I’ve also painted in Spain, Germany, England and Canada. I was enthusiastic and had fun wherever I was. Painting in different places feels different; my people are at home and I’m really confident amongst that culture. But that also happens when I meet people who I feel like I’m at home with or who I can have fun with. I usually moved to places where I get that feeling, not because of art!
Hunto’s screenprint cover design for the GSA book