Vico in our studio and kitchen! (Part 1)


An Italian philosopher is certainly needed for our painting workshops—and who better than the Neapolitan Giovanni Battista Vico (16681744) with his well-known verum esse ipsum factum (“truth itself is constructed”). As Vico argued through his famous principle first formulated in 1710 as part of his De Italorum Sapientia, truth is only accessible through experimentation. According to Vico, human beings make the error of judging new situations within the mirror of past experiences as if “truth” were unchangeable in space and time. We believe that Vico’s philosophy is particularly useful to us because, simply, there is no “truth” in art. We need to experiment—relying on our own senses, mind and emotions—if we are to produce authentic works that reflect who we are. When we face the unknown, Vico insists on the necessity of our staying away from the obvious and using our imaginative understanding to connect with the unfamiliarity of the situation and grasp a new meaning (Goetsch 1995). In other words, we need to feel the unknown, live it through our own personal stories, and find a way through our own thoughts. Simply put, you can learn theory and technique from teachers and books, but you alone can find your own artistic style. It is not by reading about recipes, ingredients and their order that you learn creative cooking, rather it is by cooking with your own hands. The same applies to painting: it is not by reading about painting techniques that you will learn how to master your colours, but by manipulating them. (to be followed in another post)

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