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Artist Feature: Giovanni Contardi

One of the most acclaimed artists on NYA Gallery’s ever-growing roster is Giovanni Contardi, a 24-year-old Rubik’s Cube master and visual artist. His stunning and naturalistic Rubik’s Cube portraits have been viewed by millions via social media, earning him the moniker the Chuck Close of Rubik’s Cube art. Contardi first became interested in the 1980’s logic puzzle as a teenager after a friend introduced it to him. Like many other highly decorated Rubik’s Cubers, he quickly became fascinated with the object and process, and dedicated nearly all his time and energy to improving his timing. It wasn’t long before Contardi gained international recognition, setting 60 National Speedcube Records in Italy, 9 European records, and 3 global records. At the height of his Rubik’s Cube prowess in 2012, the artist laid claim to the world record for solving a Rubik’s Cube one-handed, completing the puzzle in only 9.43 seconds.

Giovanni Contardi, John Lennon. 725 Rubik’s Cubes, 58 x 63 inches.Giovanni Contardi, John Lennon. 725 Rubik's Cubes, 58 x 63 inches. 

Shortly thereafter, Contardi began turning his attention to the visual arts, imagining ways in which he could combine two of his great passions. While some of his first Rubik’s Cube portraits were based on canonical works of art, such as Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1893), the young Italian artist soon transitioned over to executing detailed portraits of celebrities. To this day, Contardi’s imagery is very much influenced by pop culture icons, street artists, and musicians. Since his subjects are almost exclusively Hollywood personalities, the pixelated or granular quality of his finished artwork is rather appropriate since it conjures up ideas about image distortion and manipulation, identity, public persona, and the duplicitous nature of celebrity culture. To construct these striking portraits, he uses at least 700 custom cubes, designing an overall pattern that takes three to four weeks. Each cube only contains six colors, but Contardi is able to convey a remarkable degree of likeness and presence with this limited tonal range. Once the template is in place, the actual assembly of the image—strategically twisting and placing the blocks—only takes a few hours. Contardi is continuing to produce his signature portraits, both for interested collectors and for gallery exhibitions all while serving as an ambassador for Rubik’s Cube. Several examples of the artist work were featured in the opening exhibition for NYA Gallery, which was on view between March 7th and April 4th of this year.

To date, he has completed a number of commissions for iconic brands and private clients around the world, and his practice has been covered by CNBC, CuppaWOW, and Elite Readers. Moreover, Contardi has received public praise from high-profile stars, such as Dwayne Johnson, Casey Neistat, Will Smith, Kevin Hart, and several others. At the moment, he is designing a portrait of Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp as part of a partnership with the English Premier League; completing a work for Sony Picture’s Blu-ray release of the Academy Award-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse; and preparing to be featured in a short film that will pay tribute to the famed composer Gioachino Rossini and the artist himself, as both grew up in Pesaro, Italy.