To look at a Jim Salvati painting, is to experience a snapshot into the soul of his subjects. Each person portrayed in his work, which is thick and textured with oil paint, is telling a story about the life of the person, the emotion of that moment in time, their world surrounding them, and a warm sense of the human condition and its uniqueness. "We all have stories,” Salvati says, "and I like telling them".
Born in 1957 in the Southern California town of Upland, Salvati is the oldest of three children born to parents who passed their love of art on to the next generation. Jim’s mother would paint and his father liked to fill the house with different pieces by various artists. "I had two uncles that were artists, one a fine artist and the other an architect, and I always admired their work. I remember seeing their art and photography and was amazed at the beauty of what they had created".
Salvati grew up deeply immersed in the beach culture and had a soft spot for two activities, surfing and art. He decided to follow the path of many of his family members by studying architecture in college. This soon grew sour for him as he felt as though he was not on the right path.
"I learned that architecture was not as glamorous as I thought it would be. An instructor noticed my frustration and saw that I could draw. He recommended that I take some drawing classes". Salvati gave it a try and was soon accepted to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He moved to attend Pasadena’s ACCD from Encinitas Ca.
Upon graduation, he immediately began painting for various industries including feature film, the surf industry, and advertising, and for companies such as Disney and Warner Bros. Today, fine art dominates his career. "I still take on commercial jobs, but this time with the advantage to pick and choose. My years of working with Disney and the WB for the Harry Potterfilms still keep me active with both of these studios and my Disney Fine Art paintings from Collectors Editions are way too much fun. Artists such as Ellenshaw and Carlton are very talented and I admire their work. I feel lucky to be in the Disney collection with them".
Describing his portraits as contemporary realism, Salvati sees his paintings as his portal into various cultures and different areas of society. "I like the connection between people and their culture", he says. "The different emotions, gestures, moods, environments, and style of people in my life and those that I cross paths with, all become part of my storytelling. Even with my Disney art, I think it’s important to show who a person or character is and what is the most interesting part of their life that which is bold and has guts. I really feed off the reaction of other people to my work. I want to tell all of my subjects’ stories and often the only thing holding me back is time. I race the clock every day".
Working in oil paint, Salvati uses panel and sometimes mounted paper preferring the option of layering paint to create a lot of texture, as he feels that an uneven surface adds to the emotion of the story. "My paintings are extremely thick and layered", he says. "I love how experimental oil allows me to be. I can keep the colors moving until I like what they have done to the piece". My influences are Lucian Frued, Jeffrey Jones, Kent Williams, Yevse Moiseyenko, Andy Warhol, John Singer Sargent and Helnwein.
Today, Salvati lives in the same Southern California area near the famous surf spot Malibu. They have two sons, Max, 20, and Vince who is 15 years old. They also have two dogs, a 12 year old chocolate labrador named Hank and a one year old pug, Buster. When not in his studio working, Salvati can be found in the water, whether its a pool or the ocean. "I work doctors’ hours. If it is a good surf day, I will work really early in the morning and then surf from noon to 2 p.m. Afterward, I’d go right back to painting. When there is no surfing, I will work 12-hour days, seven days a week. I am at a stage in my career where I can control my work load, keep my lifestyle intact, and hang out with my wife and kids".
Outside of the studio and when not on a surfboard in the Pacific Ocean, he enjoys sports, and working on films with his filmmaker son. "In a lot of ways, filmmaking is like painting. Both tell a tale". Salvati listens to a wide range of music from Radiohead to the Beatles to Ella Fitzgerald while he paints. Since 1985, he has been an instructor at the Art Center College of Design where he had graduated just three years before. "I emphasize to my students the importance of getting their passion out in their work and to tell their stories.
"I prefer the darker side of story telling and image making because it is more interesting than just a milk-toast style. This is how I approach my Disney Fine Art pieces as well. I choose the moodiest and edgiest figures to work on. Cult films like Alice in Wonderlandare fun, Fantasia’s hallucinating imagery, and any of the evil, dark queens and princesses help to create more than just a pretty picture". | by Koleen Kaffan
Il pittore Americano Jim Salvati, diplomato presso il prestigioso Art Center College of Design di Pasadena nel 1982, ed in seguito diventato lui stesso docente nel medesimo college, trasmette ai suoi allievi la passione per la pittura e un messaggio importante: "Anche le persone "normali" possono diventare dei grandi artisti".
Ricorda un pò le parole dello chef de cousine August Gusteau nel film "Ratatouille", che spiegava come "L'alta cucina non è una cosa per i pavidi: bisogna avere immaginazione, essere temerari, tentare anche l'impossibile e non permettere a nessuno di porvi dei limiti solo perché siete quello che siete, il vostro unico limite sia il vostro cuore. Quello che dico sempre è vero: chiunque può cucinare, ma solo gli intrepidi possono diventare dei grandi", e Salvati riporta questo concetto nel mondo dell'arte, e sottolinea come, pur non possedendo un grande talento "grezzo", si può comunque imparare a trasmettere emozioni e sensazioni attraverso una tela e i colori, e far leva sulla passione, sull'impegno e sulla determinazione per riuscire. E Jim ha tutte e tre le cose!
Artista prolifico, il suo lavoro interessa il cinema, il teatro, e tra i suoi clienti possiamo trovare nomi prestigiosi come Disney, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures e il Radio City Music Hall (è lui l'illustratore e artista concettuale di molte immagini memorabili e dipinti nei film del maghetto "Harry Potter")
Salvati descrive il suo stile come "realismo pittorico", ed i suoi soggetti preferiti sono le persone perché, a suo dire, attraverso le persone si può entrare in contatto con la loro storia, la loro cultura, il loro essere. Le emozioni, i gesti, gli stati d'animo degli esseri umani si riflettono nelle sue tele, e anche nell'illustrare i personaggi Disney per la Disney Fine Art, Jim coglie i momenti più toccanti, più interessanti della loro vita, carichi di una forza emotiva trascinante che ci tocca da vicino.
Così possiamo trovare Bambi solo nella foresta, il cacciatore che guarda Biancaneve cogliere dei fiori, mentre tira fuori il pugnale per ucciderla, o Mulan e Khan durante la canzone "Reflection", o ancora il mio preferito, quel ritratto di Walt che guarda verso di noi, e con il suo sguardo mi tocca sempre nel profondo....
Un artista straordinario, che utilizza la pittura ad olio e, talvolta, la stratificazione della vernice per creare una rosa molto vasta di texture, che danno poi al dipinto un tono irregolare ed imperfetto che non toglie bellezza ma aggiunge emozione ed una immediatezza visiva di forte impatto.