A City Abstracted an interview with artist Gionna Cuccolo

American artist Gionna Cuccolo arrived in Casablanca in 2017 before travelling to Marrakech and falling in love with the city, where she began depicting the city geometrically. Now, she’s returned to Marrakech in advance of her first solo show at Cafe Clock from 8 March 2018 and, lucky me, I had a chance to sit down with Gionna during her stay to find out more about her artworks.
You studied psychology and art history at university. Now as an artist you are primarily focused on geometry, architecture and abstraction. When did this shift happen? 
I’m not quite sure. I think I’ve always been attracted to forms and shapes, primarily because of their simplicity and when I was studying, Kazimir Malevich and his Suprematist art movement had a huge influence on me.
You lived in Casablanca before traveling to Marrakech. What impact did Casablanca have on your artworks? / Were you creating while in Casablanca? 
Casablanca was definitely inspiring for me, and I actually had a very productive time creating here. It’s a big city. Things are constantly happening. This energy is sometimes overwhelming but I’ve learned to use it creatively. While I was there, a ton of buildings near my flat were in the process of construction, destruction or for the most part, at a stand still. I would go to a cafe during my lunch break and just sit and stare across the street at the construction site, the workers, the way the shapes cut into the sky like daggers. Process is very important in my work and I felt I was able to see an abundance of it in Casablanca.

Saadian Shadows I © Gionna Cuccolo

What building / monument in Marrakech has left a lasting impression on you? 
It’s hard to say, as all are so special. But I drew a lot of inspiration from the Saadian Tombs. I think this mostly because it was very difficult to have my own personal moment with the spaces, the tombs, the detail and the beauty of the place with the hordes of camera-carrying tourists flooding through every moment. Because of this, my attention was at a high and when I started creating I thought a lot back to this place and the small snapshots of cedar wood, detailed carvings and door ways that are catalogued in my mind.
What’s next for you as an artist after your show A City Abstracted at Cafe Clock Marrakech? 
As the inspiration from Marrakech is still fresh, I’m thinking of creating a new series based only on the gates of the city. Ideally I would like to attend another residency to have the time, freedom and space to dedicate to my work.
What makes someone an artist?
It’s a good question as artists come in all shapes and forms but I think having a need to create is something we all have in common.
Do you have a daily routine or do you create when the inspiration is there? 
I’ve never been a fan of daily routines. I even find they halt my creativity sometimes. So with that said, yes I create when the inspiration brings me to. I create with the need of creating. The need to translate what I see and feel into something more real
and tangible.

When you’re not creating, where would we find you?
I could be found In the forests or mountains, in the sea or on the road. Travel and nature are so incredibly important to myself as a human being and for my art. If not traversing the land, I like to spend my time volunteering or learning something new. Always always always learning, seeing, exploration and sharing.

Jemaa el Fna at Twilight © Gionna Cuccolo

 

Home is … 
wherever I am in the present moment
Marrakech is….
magical and mysterious, chaotic and curious.
Favourite food in Marrakech…
The food here has been so amazing I don’t think I can honestly speak to one as my favorite so I will go with something basic that is done so well here- the bread- khobz. With every meal, without fail.
Cover photo: Untitled © Gionna Cuccolo

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