Photo courtesy by Stephan Giftthaler
You may not know multidisciplinary Barcelona-born artist Ignasi Monreal’s name yet, but chances are you’re familiar with his work. Considered one of the world’s most talented emerging artists, Monreal came to the Eternal City, wooed by Rome’s inspirational beauty, enduring charm and quality of life, after years spent working tirelessly in the fog of London. His extensive stints with high profile brands ultimately led to his GucciGram project with Alessandro Michele and Gucci, catapulting him to international recognition. The pioneering collaboration resulted in over 80 artworks from books to t-shirts to packaging to scarves to a children’s line, culminating in Gucci’s celebrated Spring/Summer 2018 campaign, the first of its kind to be fully digitally painted and for which Monreal was short-listed for awards including Beazley Design of the Year from the London Design Museum and The Design Prize in Milan.
Like generations or even centuries of international artist before him – from Caravaggio to Velázquez to Cy Twombly, Monreal has been soaking up all that glorious Rome has to offer for the better part of a year in quaint Trastevere by pursuing his love of painting in all forms. Thanks to a chance meeting through friends, Monreal met ML and the relationship quickly blossomed from mutual admiration amongst artists to a deep friendship to a beautiful new partnership with ISSIMO culminating in a wallpaper collection.
The collection stems from Monreal’s exploration of traditional still life and portraiture with trompe l’oeil, as well as digital expression in which he elegantly balances controlled and free-form brush strokes with Photoshop and his iPad. Monreal has always held a love for art, his first childhood memories are of drawing and painting. As an adolescent, he developed an interest in character design which led him to explore the world of fashion in his early 20’s. Drawing from his more recent work with Gucci and other brands, Monreal seeks to evolve ideas of texture, layers and dimension by firmly placing classical painting in the now. His innovative approach involves playing with specific colours and tones to create contrast, depth and nuance within the setting in order to guide the viewer’s eyes properly through the concept and lure the digital painting to life. His technique can be applied to any size canvas, allowing him to go beyond the boundaries of physical limitations. Drawing inspiration from everyday situations to myth, Monreal is always actively seeking a subject to paint, leading to his aesthetic being coined Monrealism.
Drawing upon Monreal’s impeccable skill and balance of control and instinct, combined with his fascinating way of mixing contemporary and classical, Monreal captured the opulence and luxury of the classic gouache paintings, typically found in nonna’s dining room, breathing new life into them and offering them new spaces to inhabit. Painting digitally, Monreal uses a turpentine brush to emulate gouache, working with layers and layers of colour. He also drew inspiration from his dear Neapolitan friend, Carlo, who has a hilltop villa with terrace overlooking the Gulf of Naples. Carlo would share photos of the view from his terrace, taken at different points of the day – sunrise, midday and sunset – and throughout the season, allowing Ignasi to have a clear vision of the landscape and vantage point. Ignasi’s renderings which are lovingly recreated on the new wallpaper capture the essence of the view of Vesuvius from Carlo’s terrace and add a bit of play of old with new, invoking a few contemporary touches here and there.
The ISSIMO Monreal Dedar wallpaper is now available exclusively online through ISSIMO.
When ML and Monreal began collaborating, he was originally tasked with creating portraitures of the Scio family tree but soon the conversation led to other projects. Inspired by ML’s love of Neapolitan gouache, tented rooms and trompe l’oeil, ML originally asked if Monreal could recreate a tented room for Mezzatorre using wallpaper to create a typical Neapolitan gouache depicting imagery of the Gulf of Napoli. The idea was to create an optical illusion in which the hotel’s reception became a landscape. While they weren’t able to adapt the space to this idea, by applying a bit of Monrealism, the duo soon realised they could translate Ignasi’s incredible skill at reinterpreting older techniques and styles of representation in modern ways to a broader audience. By partnering with ISSIMO and famed Italian interior design brand Dedar Milano, Ignasi’s Neapolitan gouache designs have been parlayed into an original one-of-a-kind wallpaper.