Xavier Magaldi is a Swiss artist who has been present in a graffiti world since the early 90’s. He is also a watchmaker, so in his work Magaldi combines these two ‘métiers,’ creating with it a unique view on mechanical movements.
From Graffiti to Watchmaking, and Other Way Around
Magaldi was born in Geneva, where the first graffiti appeared shortly after London and Paris. Xavier himself discovered graffiti in the late 80s and instantly became particularly interested in the letters. He has made his first experiments with spray-paint in 1989. After some years of “torturing letters in wild style”, he changed it for free style and mechanical drawing:
“When I was younger, I had fun creating my own alphabets, until the day I met the famous graffiti-artists and was taken under their wings, a bit like big brothers. As I specialized, I worked mainly letters through the “wild-style”, as they say in the jargon. This technique is to deform and stylize the letter in an extreme way. By following a few “machines” in freestyle, but this was the “abstract graffiti” … and finally, it was time to move on to the canvas!”
Parallel to his street art interest, he was trained as a watchmaker at the Ecole d’horlogerie de Genève and had the opportunity to work at one of the greatest maisons in watchmaking. Magaldi not only wanted to contribute to the inner beauty of the watches, he wanted to play a part in their outer beauty and design. So, after completing his education, as well as gaining experience with different companies, the circle closed when he came back to watchmaking industry. Only this time as a member of the design department, where he mainly focused on the design of their dials. Together with digital graphics and publishing, these very diverse experiences led Xavier Magaldi to concentrate on fusing those crafts:
“These two worlds (street art and watchmaking) oppose each other yet form an integral part of my life and I’ve learned to combine them in a complementary manner. We find that the parallel fusion in my paintings, all essential to the proper functioning of a mechanism’s components, are released from their constraints and obligations and finally speak.”
MecaFuturism: Tourbillions and Perpetual Calendars
Magaldi uses various techniques originating from street art to integrate elements such as tourbillions and perpetual calendars. He draws parallels between street art and horology through a visible and creative dynamism created from the juxtaposition of the meticulous art of watchmaking with the world of graffiti. The moments of free art and pure creation laid the basis for his work on canvas that is called “MecaFuturism”.
As Magaldi started his professional career as a watchmaker, his work is characterized by precision, geometry and technical drawing, inspired by Cubism of the 1920’s with its pure geometry. That style he combines with the mechanism by Italian futurists. Xavier’s biggest success is his ability to materialize time and capture its energy on his paintings:
“I am primarily looking for the composition. But, actually, color is important. But I’m working a lot in monochrome, namely the use of different tones while remaining in the same color. It is a matter of time and inspiration.”
And for Xavier Magaldi, anything can be inspiration, as he admits that he just loves to observe, analyze balances, compositions, shapes, beautiful objects: “aesthetics fascinates me” as much as technical plans do! Whether it is micro, architecture or urban planning, this artist can easily project himself through it and find forms that he can develop into his work.
Magaldi’s Post-Graffiti Era
Magaldi primarly likes to work on large format:
“I need to feel the gestures, the rhythm and pulse of the artwork which involves a complete integration, a true physical relationship with my canvas.”
Xavier mostly uses brush but the spray is also welcomed with its own set of gestures and the benefit of quick drying. He also likes pens and markers for their accuracy and as an homage to a technical drawing. Sometimes he also uses other techniques such as stenciling, spatula, gold leaf, collage and modeling paste:
”The mixture of techniques is very interesting because it gives a different volume; however, quality is essential and imperative.”
The parallel fusions in Magaldi’s paintings are essential to the proper functioning of a mechanism’s components. However, all of them are released from their constraints – it is actually a mechanism that operates only in the imagination. His work is the continuation of a European art movement that was born in the USA in the 1960′s and 70′s, where every urban element was likely to be decorated. A recent era of Xavier Magaldi’s work is titled Post-Graffiti and it expresses artist’s vision of art, at the same time modern and traditional.
Tempus Fugit and Utopies Urbaines
In 2014, Tempus Fugit, or translated Time Flies, was a Geneva exhibition of Magaldi’s graffiti art displaying mechanical movements. The show presented how the artist’s grafitti and watchmaking roots blended on the canvas. The earthy colors Magaldi used, translated tradition while the watch detail sketches opened the window to a watchmaker’s mind.
In 2015, Xavier Magaldi’s latest works “Sous écoute” were on display at Utopies Urbaines, group show in Paris.
Xavier Magaldi lives in Genève, Switzerland.