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Matteo Maria Mapelli

The Art of Living

Style and passions of a contemporary gallery owner.

Matteo was born into an artistic family; in the ‘90s his father opened a gallery to turn his art collecting into a profession. Matteo studied art at Brera in Milan, and graduated with a thesis on 1950s ”Abstract American Expressionism” and then started to work. He was a young assistant to Claudia Gian Ferrari, one of Milan’s most influential gallery owners.

“It was a crucial formative period. I took the gallery owner’s work on board and had my first experiences in the boundless “world of exhibitions”, working alongside Dot (that was her nickname). She taught me something essential: art has to be preserved, respected and protected.”

Once he finished his studies, Matteo moved on to the family gallery, and to Contemporary Art.
“I feed my passion for art every day, with an infinite and ongoing analysis of books and the exhibitions I visit.” He divides his time between the gallery and artists’ studios: “The unique contact which is created between gallery owner and artist is essential when it comes to being able to grow together.”

Then there are the more “playful” aspects of his work, which involve travelling, wandering around the world’s museums, visiting Art Biennials and art fairs of every type, including Contemporary Art, Fine Antiques and the Applied Arts… in places and countries that are worlds apart in cultural terms, and therefore provide all the right influences.

And lastly: “Something I really enjoy: dinners with friends and artists. It provides a unique opportunity for exchanging ideas, points of view and a few wisecracks. I love listening to them, because it helps me understand them even more.”

I feel elegant: by making respect a strong point in any given situation, even the most awkward ones.

The best gift: without a shadow of a doubt, my son. He has that ability all children have to see through things in a natural way, and he also helps me to remember truths I had forgotten.

In my suitcase: essentials. Generally speaking I never leave behind my old denim shirt, I have worn it for ages and it’s become a bit of a lucky charm. And I have to have a good book, the best companion of all when it comes to relaxing.

Music: I’m not a connoisseur. I listen to completely different genres. I consider it essential, a form of art which is therefore necessary. I always like to discover new things.

Interior Decor: I like contaminations a lot. Antique and Modern, Contemporary! …. And so painting-sculpture-photography-video art-applied arts… The real difficulty is knowing how to strike the right “balance” in everything.

Art for me is: a never-ending love affair. It is definitely an essential part of my life, a very powerful medium for sending precise and useful messages, as well as being an elegant, refined means of nourishing the soul.

Favourite Book: I have come across an infinite number of masterpieces in literature. The last book I read, “Stoner” by John Williams, is one of those stories that "you would never expect", a very simple plot but told in an extraordinary way.

Favourite Film: As far as films go, Lars von Trier and David Lynch’s productions, without a doubt. They are both eclectic and visionary directors, and I think the most striking thing about their work is the profound, dark analysis of the individual, and the atmospheres and places they depict. They are all elements that project their films into the complex world of “Video-art”. One film that stands out is “Mulholland Drive”, but then how can one forget that moving sequence in “Club Silencio".

Fears: nothing in particular. I am optimistic, I like to face challenges with courage.

Never: be mediocre!

Always: seize the moment.

Favourite app: Instagram, without a doubt.

Three “secret” locations:
• La Trattoria Arlati, Milan. Traditional Milanese cuisine, combined with the finest welcome one could hope for. It’s like being at home;
• Palazzo Fortuny, Venice. A magical and eclectic place. It’s a unique house-museum of rare beauty. I find it meaningful, and it has had a great influence on my way of working;
• Seiser Alm, South Tyrol. Literally the name means “Roof of the World”. It is one of my favourite Terrestrial Paradises, silent, magical and sacred. The perfect place for losing oneself and finding new energy.

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