We caught up with Alfredo, or Mojo as he is known in the trade – a legendary tattoo artist from Moncalzati (in the province of Avellino, in southern Italy) – to find out all we could about his art.
Read on to see how he has managed to combine his love of drawing, painting and tattoo with the study of anatomy and his passion for architecture, to give life to “ArchiTexture”, an digital eBook which went straight into our digital bookshop. VIEW NOW!
Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Alfredo, but I’m known as Mojo, and I’ve been tattooing for about twenty-five years now. I live and work in Irpinia, in the south of Italy, where I share my shop MOJO Tattoo&ArtGallery with Aldo Burhzum and Caprithio, as well as other friends and colleagues and our shop manager Maurizio Jahmau. Before I became a tattooist, I got involved in art through oil painting, and tried other media as well like airbrushing.
For years I worked on illustrations trying to perfect my technique and managed to produce some excellent results.
But as I grew older, I almost completely gave up airbrushing, getting better results with oil painting and developing a more truthful language which was a great satisfaction for me. This doesn’t rule out digital technology which I use for graphics projects and artwork for music bands. In any case, I still have a serious interest in drawing even now that I am devoting my energies to painting and tattoo.
How did you go about developing your style?
Anatomical studies are the basis of classical figure drawing. It is something that has always fascinated me and now it has become one of the things I enjoy most. It all began years ago with me studying from art anatomy textbooks, but my curiosity got the better of me and I ended up with the atlas of medical anatomy, obsessively studying every part of the body. Now what I really get a kick out of is transforming every gesture, even the most natural, into biorganic movement. The structures that I draw, especially those illustrated in my “BioAnatomy” plates, are simply the interaction of shapes which already exist in nature, transfigured in their form and position…
Whenever I start a “Biorganic” drawing I have no idea how it is going to look when it’s finished.
I start from a basic concept, a structure, but then I rework it whatever way feels right to get intuitive and, above all, unpredictable results. If you think about it, they are basically archaic, tribal shapes which adapt themselves perfectly to the body to be decorated, which is where I try to transfer the three-dimensionality and the detail of the textures.
Has it changed over time?
Sure it has, it evolves each time and it is constantly changing. I am always searching for new details, shapes and volumes. The play of light is ever more important in order to define shadows and highlights, to give a chiaroscuro effect.
How important is it for you to paint and draw?
I adore drawing in pencil and charcoal, but without a doubt the best therapy for my spirit is painting. Tattoo is the fruit of these two vital events. Persevering with study is fundamental in order to improve technique, whatever one I use.
When my passion became obsession my restless soul began to dominate the darkness which emerges in my work.
What are your favourite subjects?
In tattoo I try to be more eclectic, using contorted figures fused with biorganic structures, producing surreal compositions which always look dark and sinister. Lately however, the structures have become more architectural, I like to insert textures with a dilapidated feel to them. In painting, I have always been fascinated by human anatomy, the human figure and portraits and I think I still have a lot to do with these themes!
Where did the idea for this digital eBook come from?
Actually, I had already dealt with the theme of anatomy, blending it with architecture. While I was travelling I realised that my attention was always drawn to architectural shapes, whether ancient or modern, better still if they are dilapidated. There, I always feel like I can glimpse faces, forms…as if they had a character of their own. I started drawing what I was looking at, or rather, what my mind was seeing. Some of the sketches in the collection are drawings from life, others are the fruit of imagination – but in either case we are dealing with surreal visions of memories of places visited. And that’s where “ArchiTexture” comes from!
What plans have you got for the future?
I would like to get back to work on an old project, one I’ve been working on, on and off, for years now: a collection of drawings of the myths and legends of Irpinia, naturally looking at the sinister and esoteric aspect of the stories. There are a lot of really lovely books and collections of these tales which have been passed down from generation to generation, but what is missing is illustrations…there are some pieces I have already finished, but it will take some time to do it all. You’ll be the first to know when it’s ready!