Having only just recently celebrated its grand opening in October, Toronto’s Navillus Gallery is fast establishing itself as a destination for the city’s art enthusiasts. Erected in the post-modern edifice envisioned by L.A. architect Barton Myers’ (known for his expansion of the Art Gallery of Ontario back in 1993) Navillus brings the space to life for the first time in over 20 years.

In an effort to marry Canadian, American, and global art, curator Taylor Sullivan has selected a well-rounded collection that crosses the spectrum of place, space, time and meaning. The gallery’s inaugural exhibit, Decadence and Austerity, presents the dichotomy between excess and minimalism, a relevant theme in art and in life.

Settling into its position as the city’s newest home for international art, FILLER chatted with a pair of Navillus Gallery’s artists — Pasquale Cupparivia New York and local artist Sabine Liva — to trace their journey to Navillus.

 My Canvas: Pasquale Cuppari

Pasquale Cuppari aims to capture the universe in his canvases, working in the same vain as abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock, and working from the same place: 1950’s New York City. A culture of excess and indulgence define the city and the period, and that theme pervades Pasquale’s work. His mixed media canvases are created using a secret blend of materials, and feature an endless variety of colour, texture and flash.

1. Where is Home?

Although I was born in Italy, I came to the United States after college. I am an American citizen and Rosell Park, New Jersey, is where I live now and where I do my art work. Its peaceful with convenient access to New York City, both of which are very important to me.

2. Describe your work in three words.

Passionate, Celebratory and Radiant!

3. What is your greatest achievement?

Fathering two wonderful daughters, Ria and Heidi.

4. When did you know you were going to be an artist?

I knew I was going to be an artist when, at age eight, I first looked at an image of Michelangelo’s Pieta on a calendar hanging on the wall in my parent’s bedroom. I started copying over and over the head of Mary in order to get the feeling that I was experiencing while I was looking at her.

5. What is your favourite piece of art in your personal collection?

My favourite work of art that I own is my first painting of the current series, “Mondo Bello” (“Beautiful World”) , which I titled “Tribute to the Sun.” It’s a celebration of light, life, warmth and beauty.

6. What medium other than painting is your biggest source of inspiration?

Music is definitely my biggest source of inspiration, particularily Puccini’s and Verdi’s operas and classical music by Beethoven and Wagner. I also love jazz because its form allows the freedom to improvise as I like to do in my artwork.

7. If you had to name one person (living, dead, fictional) as your muse who would it be?

Mother Teresa inspires my life because of her kindness, caring and unselfishness.

8. Anything you are currently reading, listening to or watching right now that is influencing your work?

I love to be outside in nature experiencing the sunlight reflecting on the water, the trees blooming in early spring, and the light of the stars glittering on a clear cool night.

9. Is there one particular piece of art, viewed early in your life that still informs your vision as an artist?

In addition to the influence of Michelangelo’s Pieta on my early life, I loved works by Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Monet , Cézanne and Bonnard. Later, I was totally blown away by the American abstract expressionists’ spontaneous way of working.

10. What is your favourite city in the world in terms of its creative output?

Although I have travelled to many wonderful exciting cities, the electrifying energy and creative force of New York City is a constant inspiration to me.

11. What do you find the hardest thing about being an artist in your everyday career?

I find it berry frustrating when I am in the middle of creating a painting, and I must make the time to deal with the everyday necessities of life.

12. What has been your most precious moment as an artist in your life to date?

My most precious moment occurred one day as I was painting on a flat surface under the sunlight in the open air, pouring my luscious paints, mixing my sparkling materials, layering, glazing, and creating pools of transparent colour. Then the moment came when I hung the paintings on the wall, stepped back and looked at what I had done. My breath was taken away and the series, “Mondo Bello” was born.


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