The Miaz Brothers—Roberto and Renato, born in 1965 and 1968, respectively—have developed a reputation for their dynamic ongoing collaboration and distinctive style. Early on, the siblings made a conscious effort to approach life and their artistic practice holistically, forgoing a traditional career path in favor of organic exploration and learning via lived experiences and experimentation.
This approach has extended to the ways in which the artist duo exhibits their work; by the time of their first formal exhibition, at the Viafarini Gallery, Milan, in 1996, they had already tested their various installations in major nightclubs, drawn by the opportunity to engage with a wider, more eclectic audience. Their willingness to show work in unconventional spaces has led to numerous brand collaborations, and between 1996 and 2000 they worked with Adidas, Swatch, Piaggio, and Nike, to name a few.
Opening on November 25, 2022, the Miaz Brothers’ most recent body of work will go on view in the exhibition “Don’t Look Now” at Maddox Gallery in London. The show features canvases based on iconic paintings, such as Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera (ca. 1477–82) and Jacques-Louis David’s Death of Marat (1793). Inspired by great artists and historical figures who carried on in the face of crisis, the core theme of the works and the show is hope.
We reached out to the brothers to talk about their working relationship, forthcoming exhibition, and artistic practice. Make sure to scroll through to the end to see an exclusive sneak peek at works that will be featured in “Don’t Look Now.”
Can you tell us about your path to become artists? Have you always worked as a duo, or do you have separate artistic practices as well?
We have always worked together—since the very beginning. Our journey as artists began when we were really young, and we both refused to continue with the family business of furniture making. We sacrificed a “classic” lifestyle and sense of stability in favor of a 30-year-long journey dedicated to developing, playing, and artistic and philosophical research.
At the core of our artistic endeavor is our bond as brothers and friends; we never wished to do anything that would take us away from that.
Hope is a pervasive theme of the exhibition “Don’t Look Now” at Maddox Gallery. What are some things that inspired this body of work? Was it a specific idea or event?
It wasn’t a single event that inspired us to produce this show. As we went around over the years and were lucky enough to see multiple art exhibitions, we realized trauma and turmoil were the subjects that were explored the most. We wanted to present something that could shift the focus to a sense of aspiration and joy. Just to switch things up.
The technical aspect of the works on view is quite unique. Can you explain how they were made, and how you arrived at this specific method?
All the works are made with acrylic colors and a spray gun. We never touch the canvas with a brush or a pencil. To bring forward an image we rely entirely on the molecules of paint, which behave very much like the atoms that make up matter, eternally in movement and in tension.
This brings life into the painting, which moves along with you as you observe them.
The works’ subject matter was largely inspired by well-known portraits of famous historical people, like Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt. How did you choose your subjects?
We relied mainly on our art and history education, but we also learned a lot by visiting collections of national museums in Europe. It was very inspiring for us to know that most of the figures we’ve looked up to artistically managed to achieve greatness in their craft during times of absolute uncertainty. War, pandemics, political turmoil, and death were the backdrop against which all of these great pieces were made. We started understanding that there’s a flip side to crisis that is very positive, and we wanted to put that into focus.
What do you hope viewers of “Don’t Look Now” will take away with them? What do you want the experience of viewing the work to be like?
What we felt as we were putting the show together has been so varied that we don’t have a single experience that we hope the viewers can take away. As long as curiosity is sparked, we are happy.
Are there any historical or contemporary artists that have influenced your work?
We love William Turner.
Together you’ve undertaken high-profile collaborations with brands like Nike and Swatch and exhibited in nontraditional spaces. Can you tell us about what might be next? Are there any ideas or challenges you are hoping to engage with that you haven’t yet?
In the near future, we plan to explore bigger formats on a more abstract level.
See an exclusive selection of works from the forthcoming exhibition at Maddox Gallery below.