Interview by Frederick Deknatel
Frederick Deknatel is the Executive Editor of Democracy in Exile, The Dawn journal
Italian cartoonist and artist Gianluca Costantini draws everyone and everything: political comics, graphic journalism, even sports illustrations. But it is his work highlighting human rights violations around the world, in particular drawing attention to imprisoned activists and journalists, that won him international recognition, including Amnesty International’s Art and Human Rights award in 2019.
A classically trained artist from northern Italy—he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ravenna—Costantini got into political cartooning slowly at first some two decades ago, starting with a trip to Sarajevo. Now, he collaborates with international NGOs and human rights organizations on a range of projects—highlighting the plight of jailed journalists in Eritrea, for example, and detainees allegedly tortured in Turkey. He also works with other artists, like dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
Costantini’s cartoons appear in a range of international publications and on his popular Twitter account. Some even hang on the sides of buildings, like his installation last year in Bologna’s central square of a huge drawing of Patrick Zaki, a young Egyptian academic and graduate student at the University of Bologna who has been detained by the Egyptian government, and reportedly subjected to torture, ever since he returned to Cairo in February 2020. Costantini also installed dozens of cutout drawings of Zaki in the monumental reading room of the Bologna University Library. Continue