Cesare Saccenti  - Just a gifted child who kept on painting 

Even as a young boy, 70-year-'young' painter, Italian illustrator and textile designer Cesare Saccenti was already a natural, blossoming talent. "It soon became clear that I was good at painting. That was my most striking gift. I grew up in Pistoia, near to Prato, and the scenery there was stunning. From spring time until the autumn, it's magical. I was painting from a young age, and later picked up design and pastels as well. It was my favourite pastime. I am now 70 and I have been doing it my whole life. I always painted mainly for pleasure, just for myself."        


Brought up in a textile city, under the wings of 'textile parents'
Cesare Saccenti grew up in Prato, Tuscany, a city founded in the 11th century, about 20 kilometres north west of Florence. Prato was one of Italy's fastest growing industrial cities. Saccenti rembers it all very well, "I grew up in a textile family, a working-class family. My mother had a sewing shop. She did a lot of sewing and designing in her studio. She created beautiful clothes for women. And my father made textiles for wool factories in Prato. He worked as a craftsman for various businesses; he was surrounded by textiles and could make them himself. He always used to sit at the loom to do his work. So I was surrounded by materials and yarn and thread and textiles when I was growing up. I think that's how my love of textiles was born."   


"I always said to my family: I'd like to die as a painter."  
I slowly worked my way up to a textile trader, textile expert and later a textile artist. I've been a full-time artist for the last five years. My whole life has been dedicated to painting and textiles. So I decided to combine these two disciplines to find my own artistic language. But I didn't use to design textiles for clothing when I started. The materials for clothing weren't  painted on, but the patterns I designed were printed on them. With paintings you use a paintbrush to work directly on the canvas, but that's not the case with textiles.  A print is made on them instead. In fact, you project a design onto textiles. I've also exhibited a lot as a painter/textile artist. My artworks are a combination of paintings and textiles.  I paint and create textile pieces, often combining the two by means of incorporating textiles into my paintings. I decided to do this, because it's an interesting combination. Later I started doing pastels, in order to further enhance myself. There must be something artistic in my genes. I became a full-time artist when I was 65, which was when I finally had enough time to do it. Now, I have plenty of time, so I can do it my own way. I feel liberated. I always said to my family: I'd like to die as a painter."

"Creativity isn't an attitude, it's something that hapens to you." 
"I think I inherited a penchant for textiles from my parents. I always had that creative flair inside me. It's not an attitude, it's something that happens to you. My brother Loriano also worked in the textile industry, although he wasn't creative. But for me, with all the setbacks that everyone goes through in their life, I was lucky to finally be able to do five years ago what I really enjoyed."    

"Until then, I'd been far too busy as a textile designer, with a family too, to devote my full attention to art. I simply had no time to set aside for designing, painting and drawing."       


"Studying at the classical liceo was suffocating for me."
Cesare Saccenti is an autodidact. "I went to the classical liceo between the age of 11 and 16, where I studied Latin and Greek. But I always loved the creative aspects of life rather than those that were taught at school. It was a bit suffocating. Languages were not my passion. After school, I went to study at Tullio Buzzi, the Industrial Technical State High School. I studied there for five years in the technology department. At Tullio Buzzi, they prepare you to be successful commercially and to become an entrepreneur. Whilst I was studying at Tullio Buzzi, I spent most of my free time painting, although I didn't have much of it, because I had to do so much design work for school. After my studies, I immediately went to work in the textile industry. I had a textile business for 30 years."             


Cesare Saccenti with his daughter, Elisa, who has worked with him for almost 10 years in his studio and learned a lot from him. Elisa is currently working in a jewellery and bijouterie company.  



"I worked with most of the great fashion designers, like Armani, Versace and Vivian Westwood."
After having worked for several textile companies as a textile consultant, Cesare Saccenti was invited to work for a big company in Prato as a consultant as well,where he ended up becoming an associate. He was very involved with all the companies he worked for, and always felt compelled to follow the latest fashion trends. He went to the Paris Fashion Week twice a year. "I always had to follow the latest developments in fashion. And I was in contact with the most important stylists from all over the world. I always loved a certain type of conceptual fashion: very thoughtful, never meant to overwhelm the viewer but still quite revolutionary.  It is a typical feature of many Japanese stylists such as Joshy Yamamoto, Commes Des Garçons and Issey Miyake. This command of various materials such as paper and ink, and of the techniques used to work with cotton and silk fabrics, keeps the stylist very close to the world."  Working for the big company in Prato and later becoming a partner and then an associate was, of course very satisfying for Saccenti. "They obviously asked me to go and work for them because of my expertise and my imagination, as well as my way of combining colours. I had a lot of experience, including through my contacts with the grandi maestri. In this company they knew absolutely nothing about fashion. It was an important reward for me personally, because I was the owner of that company, and I hadn't come from a rich family. My parents were simple citizens of Pistoia, and they didn't earn much money. After I started working at this company, it became mine." 


Red Storm, 2016. Mixed red and sepia ink on paper, with a superimposed very light silk/cotton fabric where the silk has been etched away in places to leave isolated tatters of cotton. The title of this work refers to the red clouds that can be seen in thunderstorms in the middle of a hot summer. Dimensions: 25 x 25 cm.     
"The companies I worked for needed an expert with a great fantasy."
"I worked as an employee for several companies that designed and produced clothes for both men and women. It is indispensable for such companies to have two collections a year: a summer collection and a winter collection. And of course they needed experts who were well acquainted with the fashion industry and who had a strong sensibility for clothes and colours, and the harmony and balance between colours and materials. They were in need of a designer with a great fantasy, but who also knew how to produce the 'product' technically. Of course, it is very important for a textile designer to know a lot about the raw materials. I'd learned  a lot about this at the Institute of Tullio Buzzi in Prato. The textile companies also needed someone who knew about the evolution of public tastes and different trends. The evolution of taste is very much influenced by cultural events. All in all, a fashion company needs to be very advanced, ahead of the others, in order to be able to compete. At the age of 64, I started working as a textile consultant for a very important factory in Prato."                   
"I love minimalism in fashion."
Cesare Saccenti, who is yet to have designed textiles for his labradors Olga and Viola, says, "I love minimalism in fashion. Nothing too extravagant. I like simplicity and good quality. My professional life has been a life full of colours. I put my success down to: correctness, coherence and continuity. First of all, you have to act correctly towards yourself and others. Then there is coherence. It is important to act with human beings in a coherent way. And finally, continuity; you always have to find a constant flow in your work and your relations with other people. You must not give in to impulses, whims or emotional thoughts. You have to be yourself at all times. Being honest to yourself and others is also very important. I work according to the following motto, which is the basis of all my artworks: L'animo non sempre è un diamante, ma a volte un velo di seta, transparante, che anche uno sguardo potrebbe stracciarlo, which means: The soul is not always a diamond - sometimes it is a transparent silk veil, that even just a look can tear apart." 
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