Gianluca Costantini doesn’t believe in hiding from the world. The prominent Italian cartoonist, artist and activist prefers to “act” and “fight” when it comes to crucial global issues.
In an exclusive with Lualua, Costantini explains that one of those is the issue of human rights.
“Often artists’ names can be used to highlight these issues. All my recent works are centered on human rights and of course Bahrain crossed my path,” he said.
From his modest studio in the northern Italian city of Ravenna, Costantini has been known to transform his drawings into a performative act – a magical dialogue of sorts, with different stories and languages.
The artist who exhibited his work in countless museums and galleries, including Paris’ Carrousel du Louvre, London’s Lazarides Gallery, and Prague’s Dox Centre for Contemporary Art, also uses the social networking site Twitter to promote “campaigns” that he believes in.
The 45-year old understands the value of sharing his work online where his drawings have an immediate and direct impact.
“Subsequently my drawings become public, everyone can use them.”
“Through [Twitter]… I interact with people who need my drawings: they directly ask for my action, they could be relatives, activists or politically engaged [individuals],” Costantini said. “In 2013, I drew Abdulhadi al-Khawaja’s story getting in touch for the very first time with the political situation in Bahrain.”
“Some years later, I was contacted by Fatima Al Halwachi who asked me if I could do a portrait of her together with her father and post it on Twitter,” he continued. “From that point grew the number of contacts and I produced more drawings on this country.”
Costantini’s contribution has been welcomed by Bahrain’s human rights defenders, at a time when all forms of activism in the Gulf kingdom are being brutally stifled by the dictatorship in Manama.
And as men like Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and Khalil Al Halwachi continue to be jailed, the artist’s work will forever encapsulate part of their struggle for political freedom in Bahrain.