Fitzwilliam Museum

The Human Touch

Making Art | Leaving Traces

This exhibition ran from the 18 May 2021 to 1 August 2021

Giacomo Bufarini aka RUN

Giacomo Bufarini Run With His Mural My Many Hands (2020) © Nelly Duff 2021
Giacomo Bufarini Run With His Mural My Many Hands (2020) © Nelly Duff 2021

Italian-born street artist Giacomo Bufarini, known as RUN, has created three bold and colourful wall murals for The Human Touch exhibition. Find out more about RUN and his inspiration behind his murals, and how he explores the theme of touch.

The Human Touch explores the fundamental role of touch in the human experience, creativity, and society. A theme which is even more potent as we live through a global pandemic that has limited and changed the way we exercise our use of touch.

How does your work explore the theme of touch?

My work aims to frame the image of hands, isolating them, analysing them. My goal is to create a strong image that explores the hands in their form, their movements and shape, and puts them in front of the viewer as bare and as true as they are. The touch of the hand is the first thing we offer to another person to establish contact. They are our extension to the world to create, to represent, and to communicate.

What was the catalyst for starting graffiti painting on lorries, trains and walls as a boy?

As a boy I wanted to feel the rush of something that was prohibited. That was what graffiti had to offer. I wanted to be known and I wanted to do it through art. Graffiti is an art movement that didn’t start from art schools, it is self-taught and an accumulation of many other cultures. I abandoned graffiti very early because there was too much competition and I didn’t necessarily enjoy the tools and narrative of it. What I kept of that culture is the creation of art in public spaces. That still gives me the rush and enjoyment of making something that doesn’t belong to me after it has been created. It belongs to everyone.

Your artist name, RUN, how did you choose it?

I chose RUN as an artist name when I was very young. I don’t remember exactly why. All I know is I always liked those 3 letters. It is a powerful word with many meanings, all signifying movement, strength and unavoidable collision with something that is coming in the future.

What was your creative process for painting the mural, My Many Hands, in the exhibition?

I started by sketching the hands on paper, using watercolour, which by definition is transparent. I wanted to create an elegant piece, a pattern that would suit a tapestry or fabric design. What was difficult to transmit was the transparency of the watercolour to a thick masonry paint technique. But I like a challenge. Also, I was happy to make something that could potentially clash with the rest of the museum’s treasures. This approach was inspired by seeing all the art that I was surrounded by, which must have had their own clash when made.

Why do you work in such an expansive scale?

I love to see artefacts that are big in scale. If and when I can, I love to create something that is visible from many miles away. I did a painting once that was visible from a satellite! I like to take over spaces, but at the end it is only for a limited time in history, and then it will fade away.

Giacomo Bufarini_RUN Parkside Pool Mural (2020) © Nelly Duff 2021
Giacomo Bufarini_RUN Parkside Pool Mural (2020) © Nelly Duff 2021

Does your style echo the renaissance frescoes, is your work connected to your Italian roots?

Being born and raised in Italy, I have been fed frescos and other classical art by master painters since I was born. Our churches have paintings, the adverts on TV, pictures in my grandma’s house depicting images of Caravaggio from the San Luigi dei Francesi Church; they have all influenced me. And then intensely at art school when I was teenager. I think that the difference from Italy’s art schools and British ones, is that we give massive importance to the perfection of the anatomy and classical art before we can talk about any personal style of stroke. It is right in a way that you need to know the rules before breaking them. But, it is also quite frustrating not being able to be free in your creation and explore yourself when you are young.

You are a keen sketcher and have created limited edition prints of one of your sketches for the show. Why is sketching important to you?

Sketching is really the basic thing to do. The first approach to an idea. I love sketching and I do it all the time. Sketching is to make things right and to pin down an idea or a concept.

What do you like most about creating art in outdoor spaces?

Creating an outdoor mural to me is like accomplishing and resolving a mission. There are always many issues in the process, which need solutions. It’s like a sort of game for big kids, and yes, perhaps it awakens the child in me. There is a lot of physical action involved in it’s execution. I also like to think that my murals somehow become part of a real life movie set. I only make the scenography, then the people write their own story in front of the mural. I love to think that my art becomes part of someone’s story.

What were the challenges of creating murals in these locations (Park Side Pool and Jesus Green Lido)?

The main challenge was the weather and wet air. This is always a risk when painting outdoors. I need to deal with the sky, clouds, position of the wall regarding the sun and of course the seasons.

Jesus Green Lido by Giacomo Bufarini_RUN © Nelly Duff 2021
Jesus Green Lido by Giacomo Bufarini_RUN © Nelly Duff 2021

How did you choose the mural sites in Cambridge, why those particular areas of town?

It was essential to choose somewhere local to the Museum. The wall at the Park Side Pool is a beautiful location, surrounded by green and there is a sort of ‘magic’ junction that leads to Mill Road, which I really like as an area. I am new to the urban environment of Cambridge but the area where the mural is looks very diverse and full of various ethnicities which is great.

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