Sampaolo is a lively Italian who was among the only guests to bust a move to the DJ's house grooves on the gallery floor. He interacts with his canvasses by blowing, throwing, and shaking color at them. Brushes and traditional tools are not in his artistic vocabulary. His orange glasses and expressive gestures and faces communicated lots, even if we couldn't understand what he was saying. We got a translator so we could grasp the finer points of his message.
We stood in front of a florid abstract piece he created four years ago, which upon first glance appeared to feature a bird-like creature with a sunny-side up egg at the top of the canvas. But Sampaolo explained that the content was actually much more vital than that.
"That's his soul," conveyed his translator, pointing to the greenish creature leaning its alien form at the suggestion of a box. "It's mocking him and telling him to go out of the cage."
They jointly explained that the box is representative of the pressures he feels as an Italian painter to echo the dogmatic styles of his country's master painters.
So since the creation of that work, has he broken free from the cage?
The artist's face lit up at the question. We moved to a neighboring work, which featured the same bird-like creature, now appearing fully formed and dominating the entire canvas.
"Si, claro," Sampaolo said. His translator explained the rest. "His soul and his self are one. It has the features of an African mask. He has a connection with his higher self. He is kicking a can to say, 'no problem!'"
Other motifs of the artist's work include running with fire and beasts. He says his painting is never fueled by thinking, but always by music: jazz, classical, and other genres.
Atlanta-based painter Alexi Torres is a Cuban-American who creates intricate pieces that look like they're composed of woven fabric or hay. He always begins and completes them on the waning moon.