Time is dilated, suspended in the studio of Virgilio Villoresi. Ancient toys, unusual objects, old magazines, his world has crystallized in a childish and melancholy universe. The goal is to tell a fairy tale, to amaze the viewer who returns as a child by giving a soul to these objects, which become the protagonists of his films. A deep universe that speaks of the purest feelings we lose growing up, becoming adults and that Virgilio Villoresi manages to revive through his animations. Considered the greatest artist of Italian animation, he has won several awards and is internationally recognized for his experiments.
1 – How did you start doing animation?
As a child I was a ballet dancer, it may seem irrelevant, but rhythm is a fundamental component of my work. The idea of choreography returns obsessively in my films and my works, as well as classical music which is a fundamental element, the starting point of many projects. My first work was a film I did with designer Vivetta Ponti in 2006, an animated collage of old 30s magazines.
2 – What did you study?
I did DAMS in Bologna, but in reality I am totally self-taught. I trained by doing research, watching the films of Jan Švankmajer and Norman McLaren, the Polish nouvelle vague of the 50s. Looking at the great masters of animation frame by frame, I started to understand how the different techniques worked.
3 – Why are you so fascinated by Nordic and Central European culture?
Of that culture I like the capacity for synthesis and inventiveness with very poor means. It reflected a little my situation back then, when in Florence I started the first experiments and I wanted to do something of mine with little. I have always collected old things, I have a natural inclination towards all the imagery of the 20th century, especially the great Italian avant-gardes in particular the Futurists, but also the masters of design such as Munari and Gio Ponti.
4 – Why do you define yourself an artisan of cinema?
Because mine is a cinema made with hands, where there is very little post-production. Everything is done by hand: at the beginning it was just me, now we are a collective of artisans who work according to the work that is required of us. There is nothing virtually rebuilt, everything you see in my films is real.
5 – How do you make these little miracles? What is your creative process?
There is a strong connection with music, often based on rhythm and melody to imagine a story. I always look for a surprise effect, for me the playful and buffoonish aspect that affects the viewer is important. I like to have fun with what I do, I want to surprise myself in the game.
6 – Do you think that the success of your films depends on this?
Absolutely yes. It is the ability to see things with the eyes of a child, to be able to recover the infantile dimension, the little child in us.
7 – Does it also support you a great technical ability?
For every second of animation there are about 25 shots, which in sequence give the illusion of movement. The movement of the objects takes place between one shot and another, the movement is always in relation to the shape. I use very different techniques, putting them together too: in one of my last works I used slow motion and stop motion simultaneously. I imagine the movement in the abstract, I often mime movements and gestures to understand how to reproduce them, or I look at nature to understand anatomies and correspondences, as I did for some jobs with seagulls or butterflies.
8 – Where can you find vintage toys and special items that you use in your films?
Around specialized shops, flea markets, sometimes even in auctions. It is as if these objects called me, I recognize in the object something I experienced, which is part of my life.
9 – How did you start your career?
The turning point was a music video that I made in 2008 for Vinicio Capossela, after that work the production companies and the big luxury brands started to contact me. Since then, thanks to word of mouth I’ve always worked a lot. At the beginning I made everything myself, but now we are a team of technicians, illustrators, set designers.
10 – How did you manage to have the great giants of international luxury as customers?
The first time was for Dsquared2, I think it was around 2010. I made an animation film for them which was a sum of everything I liked. I work a lot for the fashion world, for some customers even on an ongoing basis, like for Valentino and Bulgari.
11 – How did the project of your last Click Clack show come about?
It was my first solo show, I was invited by the Adiacenze gallery in Bologna for Artefiera. I have exhibited seven kinetic sculptures inspired by the optical devices of precinema. I created a ‘Zootrope’ for the exhibition, an instrument that allows the effect of animation thanks to the stroboscopic light, but also a motorized flipbook, as well as several other mechanical works. The show appealed to the children, who came back to see it with their families, which makes me really happy.
12 – What is the project you still want to do?
A feature film. I would like to join the film industry by experimenting with my techniques of representation on the timing of a long film.
13 – Do you think that right now Milan can be the right place for a Creative person?
It is the only Italian city I would live in and that allowed me to carry out my research and my work. I like to live it in the old trattorias and second hand markets, those magical places in the neighborhood where you can still breathe that atmosphere of the 40s and 50s.