A life sailing close to the wind
In the 1980s the Bachelet Institute in Taranto was an insignificant building, the secondary premises of a main school of the city, which had been cleared of squatters by the police in order to set up a school which specialized in accounting. Certainly not the happiest of places for the fifteen-year-old Giuseppe De Simone who cultivated other interests. But those second-hand desks which soon arrived from the main school building, with their green masonite surfaces and metal legs and their chipped, engraved, worn and dirtied desk-tops, which had been turned into painting canvases for hundreds of bored and desperate schoolchildren, were objects that Peppe soon became fond of. It was the desk-tops which drew his attention. And it was not long before he started using them as palettes. He used blunt and chewed colouring pencils to colour them, biro pens to print lines on the plastic and coloured chalk to colour the surfaces, and whatever else he could get his hands on. The desk became an object of expression of Peppe’s state of mind. Once he had finished painting all the desks in his class (which his class-mates would gladly pass on to him from time to time), he moved on to other classes and started to choose desks on the basis of their sizes, shapes and colours. We can safely say that Giuseppe started painting on school desks. Later in his life, in order to choose a career, his passion for painting and colours attracted him to the world of fashion. It was a popular choice at the beginning of the nineties when Italian fashion was going through an international boom period propelled by the success of the prêt-a-porter.
They were good years but frenetic, intense yet wearisome. Fortunately, the objects he worked on : dresses, pullovers, leather clothes, possessed their own beauty and style which fascinated him. He was still dealing with coloured materials, with the thickness of cloths and different surfaces, almost palettes on their own. An interesting experience but not exhaustive for Peppe. Something was missing. The opportunity to express himself was missing, to find that sense of life that he had found when he was colouring his school desks. And so the turning point. Peppe locked himself up in an attic of a villa by the sea. There he began painting with enamel paint. The light flooding in from the huge glass windows inspired him. The sea was outside, and there was the humidity of the night, and during the day the sun on the beach, while indoors, inside his glass cage, there was Peppe painting canvas after canvas, in an outburst of creativity which seemed to have no end. But his love for skins, plastic and material objects remained within him. And so another turning-point, the pursuit to find material to convert into art. This time - cardboard. A material he had used in his previous life, when he was working in the fashion industry. But not only cardboard, whatever material he could find in the rubbish bins – used, folded, worn it did not matter as long as it had interesting inscriptions on. He would cut out the words and convert them into collages by sticking them onto wooden boards, which he had also found on the streets, thrown out and ready to be eliminated. And then here they are - re-born, covered in cardboard, with inscriptions; objects found by chance, speedometers, watches, ceramic hands removed from dolls, pieces of cloth, rags, t-shirts…. It is from this discarded material that a work of art is born. Pieces of cardboard which come to life like people. There comes a moment in life when we feel rejected by a world which does not belong to us, we feel consumed. But there is always a path towards re-birth, and art was what Peppe discovered, and which later became DES.