In this interview, the Venetian artist discusses his artistic development and philosophy of life
Luca Moretto’s Vespa Venice,
from the “Biennale” to the Piaggio Museum
An important new success for Venetian artist Luca Moretto: his work VESPA VENICE – previously shown at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011 International Art Exhibition) – is now on exhibit at the Piaggio Museum in Pontedera (Pisa).
Luca Moretto and Vespa Venice
Moretto’s eclectic work draws admiring observers, standing next to other “artistic gems” like the Vespa signed by Salvator Dalì and the two-wheeler decorated by Ugo Nespolo, or Mino Trafeli’s remarkable Vespa. Now, they are joined by the contemporary style, powerful colours and musicality of the work of a dreamer and highly imaginative artist. The scooter, a Vespa 50 N from 1967, has undergone a Pop inspired makeover executed with flair, the result of personal research into materials and lively colours.
VESPA VENICE AT THE BIENNALE
“After the Venice Biennale, the exhibit at the Piaggio Museum is the fulfilment of another great dream,” says Moretto. “Basically, my passion for engines and for colours, the core of my life, was what led me to work on the Vespa, a piece of Italian history; and it is appropriate, that after so many years and with a touch of renewed originality, my Vespa Venice should come back home.”
VESPA VENICE AT PIAGGIO MUSEUM
How did your Vespa project start?
“Way back in 1998, as a joke I decided to decorate a friend’s Vespa, with no great pretensions about the final result; I decided on a synthetic base, painted all the decorations in relief by hand, and applied a transparent synthetic top coat. When my friend rode around on that Vespa, it caught everyone’s attention, and when he parked, people would stop and ask him about it and take photos.
In 2009 (I had begun working as an artist, partly from passion, partly because after an accident I couldn’t do anything else...), I was asked to repeat the project, but this time using proper restoration criteria. The idea was to achieve maximum quality, on a vehicle that is an original except for the parts I worked on, on which I exercised ‘poetic licence’. In other words, the background colour, for which I chose a bright white to ensure my colours would stand out, the leather saddle and the handgrips, which I wanted to be brown, not black.
While I was working on the scooter, a close friend saw it and exclaimed ‘Vespa Venice’, which gave me the idea for the name. The scooter makes you think of confetti and streamers at the Venice carnival; I’m a Venetian so the idea of combining two names with such powerful worldwide communication value appealed to me.
Every time I work on a project, I also think about how it can be developed and attract interest, so I take the time to see how communication can help.”
How many Vespa scooters have you decorated so far?
“Two: the Vespa Pop in 1998 and the Vespa Venice in 2010”.
And are you a Vespa enthusiast?
“I had a Vespa in my teens, and enjoyed restoring it, but I was so determined to have a motorbike that I sold it, first for a Gilera SP01 125 and then for a Ducati MONSTER 900 I’d been in love with for years. In 1999, when I was 22, a minor accident turned into a tragedy. As a result of medical malpractice, I lost my left leg below the knee, and after that, although I’d already ridden motorbikes and scooters, I decided it was better not to ride two-wheelers any more. On the other hand, I think that without the accident and everything that followed, I would never have embarked on an artistic career... So I focus on the positives that came out of the accident and the loss of my leg. I always try to be optimistic about life, even when something bad happens.”
When did you start painting?
“I’ve been attracted by art since I was a boy and always wanted to create something of my own, and my first ‘painted’ work was the Vespa Pop in 1998. In 1996 I designed a highly coloured pullover, which I made up with my mother’s help. In 2000 I decorated a number of small urns and plates, because, although I couldn’t do anything else, I decided I could still make gifts for my friends, who had been helping me and my family after the accident.
My friends gave us great support.”
ESo what was your first work?
“I would say the pullover I’ve just mentioned. I designed one in 1996 (I’ve still got the drawings), in a check pattern, and I made another one, again with my mother’s help, in 2000.”
How long has the Vespa Venice been on exhibit at the Piaggio Museum?
“After being displayed at the FUORISALONE in Milan in 2011 and shown at the 54th Venice Biennale, in the Italian Pavilion curated by art critic Vittorio Sgarbi, it received an invitation from the Piaggio Museum and arrived in Pontedera on 26 July 2012. It’s displayed on the stand and registration plate used at the Biennale.
I’m very proud of the fact that my Vespa Venice is photographed and admired by so many visitors from all over the world; above all, that it has been placed next to Vespa scooters decorated by world-famous artists like Mino Trafeli, Ugo Nespolo and Salvador Dalì.
I consider myself, indeed I am, an emerging artist, so it is a great honour and a source of great pride to see that my project has been so well received. I might add that my Vespa is the only one in the Piaggio Museum to have been shown at the Venice Biennale and included in the official catalogue of the Italian Pavilion.
I worked hard following every detail of the restoration, I organised a special photo shoot to have photos worthy of all the effort that went into the project, I supervised the production of the videos, to show how long and painstaking this undertaking was; I also exhibited the scooter at major events, but above all I began dreaming about the Piaggio Museum, because, as far as I was concerned, that was where the scooter should go. As I’ve learned, and as I always try to tell people, if you really believe something will happen, then it will. That’s why you should always take a positive approach and believe in what you’re doing, in your dreams! It all depends on you, always."
Which other Vespa scooter would you like to decorate?
“If I could, I’d like the new Vespa 946, the design is fantastic. With all those details harking back to the great Vespas of the past, it’s a successful modern take on the Vespa, much like FIAT’s new interpretation of the 500 in 1999. So I’d like and hope to produce a Vespa Venice 946 before too long!”
But how does the 500 come into it?
“Let’s go back to the initial concept of creating a Vespa artwork, using the scooter as the canvas: a concept many people enjoy, but criticised by purists who believe the Vespa should only be restored in its original colours. But this isn’t a Vespa: it’s a Vespa artwork! Moreover, I’m Italian, and the Vespa is an Italian icon, which I would say is reason enough. When I decided to do this art project with the Vespa, when I registered the copyright, I told myself that the Vespa is the world icon for scooters made in Italy, just like the FIAT 500 is the world icon for ‘super-mini’ car made in Italy. These two vehicles were the symbols of a particular period, the exuberant and optimistic 1960s: the Vespa and the 500 were the vehicles the average family wanted, cost-effective means of transport they could afford. Remember all the photos and films of whole families and their luggage on a Vespa, or going off for a day out at the seaside, or the FIAT 500s packed with 7 or 8 people.
So my VENICE project is to decorate a vintage Vespa and a new Vespa (ideally a 946), a vintage 500 and a new one. Because now, as then, these are two world icons that mean Italy.”
Vespa artwork: an important collection at the Piaggio Museum
Luca Moretto’s “Vespa Venice” is one of the items in the collection of Vespa scooters signed by well-known artists, tangible examples of the link between a timeless design legend and contemporary art. Over the years, the celebrated “Vespa Dalì”, one of the first purchases of the Piaggio Museum in Pontedera (Pisa), has been joined by other interesting pieces. Take a look at them, in the photo gallery.
Vespa 150 S, “Salvador Dalì”, known as Dulcinea (a character in Don Quixote). In 1962 two Spanish students on a trip on their Vespa scooters stopped in Cadaqués, where they met the great Salvador Dalì. The artist signed the side panels of the scooters with his name and the name of Gala, his muse. One of the scooters is on show, in a transparent case, at the Piaggio Museum. Explaining his gesture, Dalì said that the Italian scooter was a symbol of mobility and consequently of liberty.
This is the extra-long “mythological” Vespa (extending more than three metres), created by sculptor Mino Trafeli, with alabaster inserts (front and rear lights, saddle, indicator lights, registration plate holder). The work was created for the artist’s one-man show (“Trafeli 2003: terra, fabbrica, terra) at the Piaggio Museum, and marked the start of what would become a tradition: the collection has expanded as the artists who show their work in the Museum’s exhibitions and reviews “interpret” the world’s most famous scooter; their creations are subsequently purchased by the Museum and put on the public display.
A GTS 300 decorated by artist Ugo Nespolo in 2010, for the major exhibition “The Vespa and the Movies” (the subject of a special section in the Museum).
Created by Giampaolo Talani, for the exhibition “Bottega Talani: un viaggio nell’affresco” in 2012. Talani decorated a Vespa PX.
VESPA ALI HASSOUN
This is the Vespa “HEROS” (the Latin for heroes), decorated in 2013 by Italo-Lebanese artist Ali Hassoun and exhibited at the Museum last June in Hassoun’s one-man show “Il Popolo Vuole”.
A white Vespa Special 50 decorated with Mickey Mouse comic strips. The scooter stand, another original piece, is also covered with cartoons. Disegno Restyle by Germana Triani.
This is a creation by Gianni Depaoli (2012): a Vespa body covered with fish skin. The piece is part of the Organic Trash Art project, which uses organic waste to create objects intended to raise awareness about eco-sustainability and biodiversity.