Posted on 18 Apr, 2013

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Milan-resident Mr. Wany has a lot to shout about but he prefers his art to do the talking. He’s a hip-hop all rounder, with a background as a bboy (breakdancer) as well as a graffiti writer / artist. There’s a strong layer of Italian funk that pours out of Mr. Wany’s paintings and that’s a constant that runs through his letters, characters, tattoos and sculpture! We find out more about Milan’s coolest cat… 

Growing Up Hip-Hop

I was born in Brindisi in South Italy. My name derives from ‘Wan Yell,’ which is a name for an American. In the South of Italy most people have brown skin but I’m white! I was an introverted kid. In the start a lot of writers were paranoid about their identities so I had to change my street name to something else I could write on trains. So I’m Wany.

I painted since I was a child and my mother introduced me to the world of painting. As a child I fell in love with anime and Japanese cartoons, which arrived in Italy in the early 80s. I had the first contact with the designers thanks to my cousins ​​and my uncles. Then in the late 80’s / early 90’s I started practicing skateboarding and people who wrote graffiti would hang out. That was when I was then introduced to the world Hip-Hop. 

 

At the age of 12, in the early months of 1990, I made my first graffiti on a wall. From then until today I have lived in hip-hop culture in all its forms: doing rap, breaking [bboying / breakdancing] and writing. Over the years I got to a good level in breaking and I was part of important crews in Italian graffiti culture, such as TSK, POUF and PDB, one of the most active and complete crews for roadside, train and walls graffiti in the mid 90s.

Everything evolves and I’ve experimented a lot with other media searching for a more personal style. In recent years I have had the good fortune and honor to be part of Heavy Artillery Crew and get to know its members, raising my level because of the healthy internal competition. Even in Heavy Artillery the attitudes and styles are varied, making us lethal and a complete weapon!

 

When I work outside, on bigger spaces my research is gestural and instinctive; it’s kind of a performance that moves my whole body, as in a dance. Usually new pieces of street work involve some of the same movements [e.g. doing a quick throw-up in one’s own style]. When I work on canvas my work is more introspective. I look for the hidden corners of my soul, trying to describe and exorcise them, as in a confession to a dear friend.

In recent times the differentiation between street work and gallery work has led to a sort of, crisis in the style I had built painting walls, causing me to regress and then seek something new to evolve my perspective and take my work into the future. My being open to change is a gift and I perceive it as a high evolution of the Self. 

I started at art school and I continued at the international school of comics but I actually worked first as a screen printer then as a graphic designer and then as an art director for many years! Now working at full capacity in the world of art, lately I’ve approached the world of tattoos, which I find really fascinating.

I work both inside and outside, in legal spaces. I go through phases of street work and alternate them with canvas works –it’s just different phases. After only a few years of street lettering I started drawing my character and I gave him a name; it was like a break-in period I called ‘hiroshi kabuky’. Hiroshi is a typical name for Japanese cartoon heroes and it reminds me of Hiroshima, the city hit by an atomic bomb in World War II. If you notice, very often  explosions are still represented as mushroom clouds in cartoons – this speaks directly to the minds and souls of every human being. Just like the Kabuki brothers creators of the famous ‘kabuki theatre’,  Hiroshi plays different roles and characters from time to time. In some cases he is more ironic and in others much more serious.

Each city is different in Italy and around the world: different laws, different spots, different situations. A small example: in La they wanted to arrest me because my beer was not in a bag. In Italy, for example, Milan is the Northernmost (big) city in which you can live before you leave Italy, which has pros and cons.

I could write a book about all the places I have painted and maybe one day I will. I have been in many countries and in many different cities all over the world, and every time it was different; each time a new story to tell. Some stories are hilarious, some are weird and sometimes they don’t end well, but still I have good memories.  I have made lasting friendships that will continue for decades even on the other side of the world. This often makes you realize how limited your way of thinking and conceiving what you did was before.

I hope to take my art to the highest levels and achieve the difficult goal of moving at least an inch higher up the relative level of my art in the world. This is very difficult to achieve because, with the internet, comparison becomes much more ruthless. You have to deal with world-class competition (although it is not the kind of comparison that interests me).

Every day there is something new to say, there is a new challenge, new ideas, new things to test. If you really want to know more and follow what I do put your sneakers on and get ready to race on treacherous terrain with www.wanyone.com
! You can glimpse what I do every day; you’ll understand the commitment, hard work and perseverance it takes to reach the most important thing in the world, the misery in continuous search for an art utopia, never really recognized, and never totally loved. Call it whatever the fuck you want, this is my art!

References

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