Matteo Berton illustrates “La Piovra” for Arte Channel

Matteo Berton illustrates “La Piovra” for Arte Channel

Matteo Berton illustrates “La Piovra” for Arte Channel

“Episode” is Arte’s weekly series that discusses a broad range of topics, from aliens to family values and anything in between, all through international TV series and using solely striking illustration and animation to accompany their articles.

Arte was looking for an Italian artist to create an artwork to capture the legacy of iconic 80’s TV series “La Piovra”, and Matteo dramatic storytelling was deemed perfect to represent the apparently simple complexity of the subject.

In fact, it is worth to note that “La Piovra” not only was broadcasted in Italy for nearly 17 years racking impressively high ratings but transcended the Italian borders to become a successful export of the Italian TV entertainment industry, a trailblazer for the widely acclaimed Gomorra and Netflix’s Suburra.

Even if it was clearly entertainment, figures like Berlusconi singled out “La Piovra” with being one of the main culprits of the bad rep often given to Italy (surely it his Bunga Bunga parties were innocuous activities meant to promote communication between representatives of different countries).  Propaganda declarations aside, it’s unquestionable that “La Piovra” dealt with an extremely serious subject and it was instrumental in defining the way the Mafia is portraited—that sense of oppression and ubiquity of “La Piovra” (or “The Octopus”) is still part of the Italian imaginary. 

Although Matteo was too young to see the series in its heydeys, he was intrigued to take the challenge and put his art at work to represent such a strong metaphor. His artwork portrays a headless Octopus looming over a Sicilian port town, with its tentacles intertwined with buildings, arms protruding from doors and windows, menacingly embracing houses as well as towers. The illustration not so subtly avoids showing the actual head of the Octopus, perfectly focusing on the inescapability of the reach of its tentacle but also its biggest strength: its faceless identity. “The one that you cannot mention,” said once a very respectable woman with her granddaughter I met in Palermo.

This project seemed perfect for Matteo because he was able to skilfully play with the perspective and geometry of the city while incorporating more organic elements. Matteo used his signature colour palette with lots of pink and purple tones to create a dramatic effect, where a sun-drenched sunset on the Mediterranean takes a darker twist.

We would like to thank Arte and Ex-Nihilo for the creative direction and freedom that made this collaboration so great!

More from Matteo Berton’s Portfolio here


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