‘Expressions’ by Flavio Sala (the one who draws)

Only the word is missing from the portrait of Louis de Funès. To understand that it is not a photograph and neither is the Photoshop ‘Pencil’ effect (pencil) you have to approach it. “He is my idol,” explains Flavio Sala. Not the Flavio Sala of theater, television and cinema; Flavio Sala of the artistic high school and the diploma from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts. ‘Espressioni’ is the exhibition dedicated to him, which opens on November 12 at the Sergio Maina Museum in Caslano, to remain there until the end of this year. On display, they are mostly portrayed in pencil, with moments – see the French comedian above – of remarkable hyperrealism. “Yes, it’s a step back in time, to the 90s at the Varese high school, then Milan, at the Brera Academy which ended around the year 2000”.

Dracula against the Pet

In the name of the leap in time, let’s start with Brera. «I have always been a protester, I have never loved the abstractionism towards which we went and we go, as if to emphasize that necessarily alternative being. Sometimes I find it used as an excuse when you don’t have the basics of drawing ». It’s still. «I specialized in hyper-realistic pencil portraiture, illustration, comics and caricatures. On hyperrealism I have spent myself to the maximum. It took me three years to graduate from Brera, not out of laxity, but because I was already starting to make films ». So much has taken the parody of Dracula, shot in the castles of Bellinzona and in that of Morcote for some locations, a finished film to be presented as a thesis. “It took me three years because it was a feature film, because it was shot on weekends.”

The teachers: «I have been very fussy. The anatomy one was bothering me about things that, looking at the drawings today, I still can’t understand, especially if a guy came after me with four PET bottles glued together and screamed at the masterpiece… ». Pet against Dracula, anthropological research and vampire cinema. “And all the rest”. The decoration teacher: «Dear Crescenzo Del Vecchio, who also made a cameo in the film, an extraordinary person who unfortunately no longer exists, I always remember him with great affection. He really liked my style. Finding a professor in Brera who appreciates and encourages you, and who follows your passion is in my opinion very important. I chose Decoration because it allows you to embrace a little bit of everything artistic can be done. There were more specific courses for portrait photographers, but I wanted to avoid finding myself copying a model from life all the time, or throwing myself into the abstract. For me, who was also doing other things, Del Vecchio was ideal ».


Everything on display in Caslano, apart from a few rare exceptions, dates back to the years of his studies. Inevitably, because “the passion then took me elsewhere”. At first, in order to earn, Sala worked on illustration, creating the covers of the DVDs of Grendizer, Mazinger, and the beloved Star Blazers (on Ticino7 of last May 28, love is told about it). “The DVDs also contained our interviews with the voice actors, made in Rome, so the ‘videomaker’ part was already taking up space in my life. It is also for this reason that I set aside, preferring acting to drawing ». From the covers of the ‘Frontaliers’ to commissioned portraits, to caricatures, Sala has never put a pencil in the drawer: «My way of drawing, however, takes a long time. Stopping means resuming every time. But it’s like riding a bicycle and stopping: you always manage to leave again ».

Claudia Schiffer

(‘Yes, that’s the case mom’)

The Museo Maina is not the first exhibition by Flavio Sala. There was one twenty years ago. «This was born talking with Fausto Sassi, director of RSI above all of the historical programs for children, ‘The shop of Mr. Pietro’, ‘The drawer of Nico’. Fausto makes beautiful watercolor landscapes, he asked me if I had ever thought of exhibiting. They called me from the Maina Museum this summer during the exhibition of Charlie Chaplin’s niece. ‘ On the walls, in Sala, you can admire the ‘Expressions’ of idols such as the aforementioned De Funès, a Donna Drake in a pin-up version, classmates of the author, friends and relatives, some close, others very close. The illustrations, on the other hand, are so many “that they deserve a gallery of their own”. In another exhibition, perhaps called ‘Sala Blazers’. There are two certainties in this exhibition: the first is the portrait of Claudia Schiffer commissioned from him by a friend. «I consider it successful. She is in a quite seductive pose. My mom asked me “but is this the case?”, And I replied that “yes, it’s the case mom, it’s my biota” ». Second certainty: a sparkling Gilberto Govi, a Genoese actor, one of the symbols of the city, portrayed with a glittered waistcoat («An experiment made by gluing the glitter of Christmas greetings»).

There would be a third and final certainty: «Of the things done, I always chose the one that attracted me the most at that precise moment. Of course, having 72 hours in a day would allow you to do more things. Even the drawing “(for information: www.maina-sergio.ch, tel. 079 230 45 03).

‘Expressions’ by Flavio Sala (the one who draws)