We all should learn how to ‘hajime’
Hajime is the Japanese word for ‘beginning’ and Giotto Calendoli wanted to make clear that his very first exhibition also means a new beginning for him. A whole new Giotto who welcomes us at MIART Gallery, where the exhibition takes place. We are in Milan and outside it’s raining and it’s cold as if we didn’t already enter the spring. Inside the exhibition, it’s almost like being carried to a different time and place. Everything is bright: Giotto’s works, people’s dressed, their cheerful chit-chatting. The source of it is Giotto himself who spreads happiness and energy. As soon as he approaches us we forget how cold it’s outside. He greets people as if everyone is his long-time friend. Giotto dresses just like an influencer you expect to be dressed: tied hair, long grey coat, and a wide red slack. On his feet a pair of Dr. Martens, transformed and adjusted according to his personal sense of fashion. But he’s not an influencer, or at least he says that he’s not only that.
” This exhibition is a new me ” he says with a wide smile.
He learned how to accept labels without being forced into having a specific attitude nor manners.
” To survive we learn how to accept labels, because to people it’s important to label others but that doesn’t necessarily mean I like them… I see myself more as a creator. But if I’m able to reach people, transmit something important and influence them, then yes, we can say that I’m also an influencer ”
Giotto leads us to start the exhibition. People use to say that art doesn’t need to be explained nor understood but it’s supposed to make you feel something. Giotto shows one work at a time and lets some seconds pass while his works deep meaning insinuate itself under your skin until you start feeling that something, only then he begins to talk again.
” I choose ‘Hajime’ not only because it means ‘beginning’, a new start and a new me, but also because it’s the Japanese word for it and Japan is where my new path started ”
While discovering a new country Giotto was also able to find a new self. Far from home, he found a new one in Japan even with all the differences he faced in society.
” You can’t possibly describe Japanese society with one word. Because it’s a… Simple society, but there’s nothing more complicated than simplicity ”
Allover the exhibition you can see and feel how much they tried to represent Japan minimalism who enchanted him, the one he can’t wait to come back to, maybe to start a whole new project and discovering a whole new self.
” I am a new me every day. This is my first exhibition, my beginning, in the future there’ll be new beginnings. Now I want to focus on this moment right here. Now it’s Hajime’s time ”
He dreams to pursue freedom from social expectations. A life where there are no constrictions who force you in assigned roles. A freedom that is hidden outside of society’s cage.
” I’m not the Giotto I’ll be tomorrow. We should learn from our past mistakes but, most important, we should learn to forgive ourselves and how to do so ”
We stop walking in front of a white canvas, on the above Giotto wrote ‘forgive yourself’, the bottom is all burned and a piece is missing.
” If we don’t do that, we end up hating ourselves and hate can burn, can destroy us as humans and if we destroy us there’s no new beginning, just absence ”
A very different absence from the one we experience when we leave the exhibition. We want to go back and experience it all over again, but it’s in this moment that we realize how powerful is the message Giotto shared with us: do not stop, do not come back, instead always keep moving and keep looking for your own ‘Hajime’.
Originally published on the 8th of April 2019