CT – Italy’s king of minimalist graffiti
First time I heard about CT was through a college friend. Exactly two days later, another friend from Rotterdam dropped his name during our conversation about most active trainwriters and street artists. I had to admit to him that, no, I didn’t know CT personally, even though we live in the same city.
Since there isn’t a club or particular place to go and get to know who’s on the scene, I had to go through a long process of asking around for his contact. One month later, we finally met. Meanwhile, I looked at his works online and a few live inside a huge park full of other graffiti pieces.
Online, some people have labeled him the “King of Italian minimalism.” He, in person, made it very clear that he doesn’t belong to the graffiti world if we intend it in his purest form. Nor does he consider himself a street artist, since rather than street, he prefers creepy abandoned factories. The only label we agreed to adopt when speaking about him was a simple, but meaningful, “artist.”
An artist that saves buzzards.
Spraytrains: What’s your background and when did you start?
CT: I started with this particular approach to graffiti about a decade ago. At the time of middle school, I had classmates who were doing tags everywhere, so even if I didn’t know exactly what they were, I liked ‘em and started to produce some of my own. I thought it was culturally limited – I never imagined that there was such an important story behind [it]. I started in a very amateurish way. Shortly [after], I discovered that there were books and zines, but it was in the late ’90s and those were hard to find and the Internet was not there. However, I didn’t stop my passion towards graffiti, and for years I did only tons of sketches and nothing more. Back then, I didn’t live in the city of Turin, but a bit out where reality was far from the metropolis. For example, I didn’t know where to buy spray paint! For me, my sketchbook was my job – I took care of it with passion and precision for each drawing.
When did you move to walls?
In 2003/2004, I started painting walls and I did it with my friend Kurz, with whom I have always painted with since a few years ago. Mainly our outcomes were based on what we saw on the fanzine, but we were also looking to find out our own way. I always made sure not to follow a particular style – to change what I saw and try to bring out something new; which for me is very important and has led the development of things. So we started making the first wall along the train’s tracks here in Turin.
We were happy with what we were doing, because in my opinion, our works were quite different and quite innovative compared to [others from] that period. Obviously here in Turin. there were already writers that with their painted walls had made history: Crews like Ots, Tot, KNZ and 108.
But we were of a different generation, young people who were trying to look out on the scene and bring something new. We continued like this for a couple of years, then fanzines started to pop around and we started to use the Internet – that allowed us to see what was happening in the rest of the world’s graffiti scene. Especially in 2005, we started to look at the scene of Barcelona where stickers and posters were spread everywhere and that was what would become the “street art.” I began to see the birth of a hybrid between the writing and street art; artists like El Tono did his work in Madrid, in Paris there was Honet, Stak, L’Atlas and Tanc and in Bordeaux there was Foe.
What’s the development phase/process of your letters?
When I returned to Italy I started painting a lot more on walls – to tell you the truth I do not know why. But just by chance, I started to create modules to be able to build my letters before painting them. From the stickers, I evolved my painting skills, but maintaining a cleanliness in the letters that would look like they were printed. I was not interested in freehand spray painting.
I think it’s interesting that I had to build my own tools to be able to get the results that I wanted. When I talk about tools, I refer to forms of construction paper (3mm thick) shaped as semicircles and rectangles that allow me to create forms quickly, but at the same time, remaining quite complex and precise. The modules are the quarter of a circle and the square, usually combined by two or three. “CT” is based on two quartercircles and seven squares. Every work of mine is made with the same amount of letters of CT: this is the strong bond that continues to be with the writing culture (not intended as limited to only panels).
My painting process goes like this: I draw the outline of the shape with a pencil, then I put the tape all around them and do the filling. So with this method, I could do my things clearly and simply from the point of view of aesthetics without neglecting the complexity. In the 2008/2009, I began to make a sort of isometric effect, after which I duplicated the layers, creating overlaps. And my very minimal work was becoming quite complex, especially when I was using 6/7 colors. It was crucial for me to be able to have a technique that was suitable to make me work faster.
In this way, I had a much more thoughtful approach to the wall, I had to take measurements of the wall before going to paint and to be able to snap a picture. It was interesting for me, this phase of building my tools, because it was a time when writing was something already quite fashionable. So for example, you could buy the spray cans from a graffiti shop, we weren’t in the ’70s and ’80s anymore when you had create the cap or spray cans were rare to find.
Read more about CT here in the original interview