Interview: Judy Rhum
Direction: Simone Natale

An electrifying monthly feature on GraffZoo that dives deep into the minds, methods, and madness of the most compelling graffiti artists out there. Each month, we shine the spotlight on a different artist, unraveling what’s behind their work, their inspirations, and their artistic path. SPILL THE BEANS is designed to peel back the layers of each artist's persona and practice —from the seeds of their earliest works to their current ones, we explore it all. So, just stay tuned for some real talks!

Everything you always wanted to know (but you were afraid to ask) about CORN79

Coming straight from the mid 90s Italian graffiti scene, Corn79 is the protagonist of our first issue of Spill The Beans. Let’s dive into this extremely eclectic character’s attitude, who passed through a wide experimentation of many letterings; combining original calligraphic arrangements, color effects, geometric shapes, and their combination with the city context in a heterogeneous and varied way going from walls, street furniture, canvases, to installations. To do so, we have started from a video collaboration between the artist and Grog, back to July 2023… let’s get started!

"I always aim for a mix of spontaneity and balance in the whole final look, in both colors and shapes I seek beauty and harmony. In more recent years I have been trying to mix my path as a writer with that one as an abstract artist, I want these two paths to influence each other as much as possible! I'd like the abstract shapes to become backgrounds in my pieces, and the lettering to be the starting point for the basic shapes I use to build the visuals with.”


Looking at the artwork you have created for Grog Home Alone #45, is possible to notice a mix of perfect balance between thin and bolder lines with a color palette able to evoke a retro 70s flavour. How did you manage to do so?

I started form the color choice, the warm tones of the new DIAVOLA set from the Pointer APP line were just what I needed in this case, as I wanted to give a vintage mood to the composition. I developed the main shapes in black and then added some thickness - a recurring element in classical lettering but far from abstract pieces - and eventually incorporated the lighter details, like those movement lines of mine that provide dynamism to the whole. A couple of years ago I made a research project that later became a small fanzine entitled "Letters that love the abstract”. What I draw today is the outcome of this exploration, whether it's post graffiti, abstract graffiti or whatever you prefer to call it…

What are the influences that have most influenced you to arrive at your current style?

There are so many of them, first of all graffiti writing, the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century and those from the Italian 1970s, but also graphic design, the underground music scenes I grew up with, from drum'n'bass, trance, techno, to rock, festivals, and more. I think my style at the moment is getting closer and closer to the purpose of my research, that is to create abstract paintings that are harmonious in their forms and hues by by taking inspiration from the graffiti’s fresh and spontaneous approach.

Has there been a specific point in your life when you realized that you have achieved the visually appropriate way of communicating? In short, that turning point where you feel satisfied and say, "wow, I finally found my magic formula!”

I think I've gotten there in the last couple of years, I'm having much more fun and I'm often satisfied with my work, both in the studio and public, partly due to the fact that I spend a lot more time on it and have been able to relax a bit. Besides the fact that in the last few years I have also rejoined my "spontaneous" graffiti writing activity. That helps a lot, it's about pure freedom, untied from the commercial world. However, I think that an "interwoven research" is the key, from studio works, big walls, to painting with friends, everything has to be mixed and influenced. Experimentation comes before anything, it is inevitable to make mistakes in order to evolve, always in search for something new, listening to the depths of your inner self, connecting memory and creativity.

To create this artwork you used French curves and protractors, but also some "off-the-shelf" tools. What instruments do you usually employ, invent, or improvise when creating your artwork? Would you like to reveal some “life-hacks”?

I have always been a fan of tools in general as well as DIY, I am passionate about discovering new techniques and materials, this also comes from the fact that for many years I have been involved in set-ups and props making. As I mentioned before, experimenting is the basis of my technique, mixing freehand drawing with technical drawing, along with all that goes around it, may become a tool to make my work easier or more precise. I also collect old technical drawing tools, like Rapidographs, stencils, inks, and I often think about making new tools that can help me: templates, levels, set squares --in other words, I don't just limit myself to the use of classic tools.

It's always pretty fascinating when an artist gets to abstract his lettering, to the point of making it just look like a geometric composition to the unaware observer's eyes. Do you ever start with a word, or a hidden message, to help you find a balanced arrangement?

Sure, often for example, my works start from a lettering that I have painted on a panel, taking a detail that particularly strikes me and evolving it into something else completely. I also happen to take inspiration from shapes I see in plants, in architectures or even in shadows... or I start from actual lettering that is so deconstructed that it becomes abstractions. However, I think that my style is quite recognizable, that I have after a long time found my imprint, and those who know me can identify my work and there's no need for me to sign the piece.

What are you most passionate about in geometric and abstract language?

Abstraction fascinates me because it often depicts something that does not exist, that is not known, that has not yet been seen. It represents a synthesis, a thought that comes from deep inside, it is the result of thought and imagination. It is a very intimate kind of drawing that digs deep into one's emotions and moves away from the sphere of reality. Geometric drawing always been a passion of mine, maybe also because of the tool usage, it is something that connects us to technology, evolution and science.

Stay tuned for more insights into the minds of revolutionary writers and graffiti artists like Corn79, as we continue to explore the intersections of art, culture, and creativity. Meanwhile, check the Grog Home Alone Ep.45 that inspired us for the interview… watching him at work it’s just too satisfying!

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