“I work with pigments, types of cement, then trowels, buckets, scaffolding, glue, jute bags, foam polyurethane, formwork, paper, earth, sand, bricks, wood, cardboard and wax. My studio is a construction site”
AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?
EP: I spent my adolescence in Offagna, a small medieval village in the province of Ancona. Then before I finished fifth grade I was run over. Nothing serious, but with the insurance money, I could have gone anywhere. It was the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy and in a moment of teenage enthusiasm, I decided to go and live in the first capital of Italy, to start a painting course at the Albertina Academy of Fine Arts. And in Turin, I found people who wanted to do the same as me. I always thought I wanted to be an artist. Maybe because I wouldn’t know how to do anything else. If it was 1989 I probably would have gone to Berlin.
AT: When did it become serious?
EP: Even in the early years of the Academy, it all seemed very serious. I would hear harsh criticism in class, and then there were already people working with galleries and some writing for magazines. Perhaps, however, the first time I realized I was getting serious when I participated in my first Artissima in Turin in 2016, and my work Porziuncola ended up on the cover of Artsy. I also had my first hater. I posted the screenshot on Instagram, and someone with a fake profile wrote like, are you feeling good to pay this cover? You never forget your first hater.
AT: Is there someone who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?
EP: Definitely the work with Spaziobuonasera, the nonprofit space we founded with six fellow academics in 2015. For four years we supported each other and encountered so many people in the art world. It has been a great training opportunity for me, and yes even a turning point. It was at Spaziobuonasera, where I exhibited for the first time, in a self-produced show, my Portiuncula, which was later acquired by Thomas Brambilla Gallery, which decided to take it to Art Basel Hong Kong in 2017.
Qubbah | Site-specific installation at Masseria Cultura, Conversano (IT), 2020
AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?
EP: I have always had a studio. There, if I can, I stay even 12 hours a day. Then I go home and draw. Then I go back to the studio. I try not to leave work before the things that don’t work for me at that moment, then maybe I look at them again after a year, and what I thought were mistakes become possibilities. I note in my notebooks all the works I think about, the books I read and the exhibitions and films I see. I need them to back and not lose insights or aspects of me that maybe I had failed to understand a month, two, or a year before.
AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?
EP: L’origine du monde
AT: What are your favorite tools and materials for working?
EP: I work with pigments, types of cement, then trowels, buckets, scaffolding, glue, jute bags, foam polyurethane, formwork, paper, earth, sand, bricks, wood, cardboard and wax. My studio is a construction site.
AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the outcome beforehand?
EP: It is difficult to explain what I feel while I work. I definitely lose track of time; I enter a kind of mystical trance.
Ecce grotta! | Site-specific permanent installation at Ronchi San Bernardo (IT), 2019
AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?
EP: It happens to me sometimes that I am amazed at the work I have done. That’s when I understand that the work is finished.
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?
EP: Who knows, it may not have anything to do with being a Capricorn, but when I see something, I fall in love with, I go home and try to copy it to the point of exhaustion until it becomes my own thing. Kind of like the pianist on the ocean T.D. Lemon did Novecento in Baricco’s play. I look at many paintings, pastry, architecture, devotional sculpture, theatre and Mickey Mouse.
AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?
EP: I think the artists who have influenced me I first had to feel were close to me geographically, as if art, before being image, was a matter of place. For example, a few years ago I moved to Vienna because I thought I would like to meet Franz West. I was born in Ancona, and I think if I had been born in another city, Gino De Dominicis would not have been so important to me. The same goes for Giulio Paolini and Alighieri Boetti. I feel the same thing I feel with artists of the past whom I cyclically visit, as one does with relatives.
AT: How important is the role of social media for you?
EP: I don’t know if this is a question I can ask myself because I feel that social media is as much a part of everyday life as any other tool. No one asks the question anymore about the function of forks and chopsticks for eating pasta. They are just there.
AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?
EP: I recently returned from Documenta 15, and I’m wondering what contemporary art system are we talking about?
AT: What is the most challenging or discouraging aspect of pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
EP: In my experience there are no discouraging aspects to this work. For me, it is a beautiful and exciting profession. Everything about being an artist is rewarding to me.
AT: What do you do besides art?
EP: I go out.
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
EP: My superstition tells me it would be better not to answer this question.
Porziuncola | Site-specific installation at SpazioBuonasera, Turin (IT), 2016
Born in Ancona in 1992, Edoardo Piermattei currently lives and works in Torino, where, after opening the off-space SpazioBuonasera, together with other five artists in 2015, he opened his first studio in 2016. His work origines from the shapes – pittorical first, architectural after – belonging to the medieval and baroque imaginery, moving from the study of the missing fragments in the frescoes inside the Basilica of Assisi. The shapes that the artist traces through his works, mainly made of concrete and pigments, represent suggestions of vanished or invisible images: the empty space fills itself, the absences become presences.