“I like that in different moments the same artwork can hold different meanings to someone (and also to myself)”
AT: Where are you from and how/why you start engaging to art?
AV: I was born in Torino, Italy in 1989 but it is six years that I am living in Scandinavia. First I have spent two years in Copenhagen, Denmark and now I am based in Gothenburg, Sweden. I started engaging with art very early in life as my family was very strict about TV, video-games and any kind of virtual/digital entertainment, so when I was a kid I spent most of the time creating things, and my mother would always encourage me to paint and draw. When I was young and I started traveling by myself I would spend a lot of time inside museums and I liked to go back to visit them over the years. I was fascinated to see how the same paintings would affect me in different ways, or leave different impressions in time. At that point I wasn’t thinking that I wanted to be be an artist myself, but growing up I kept on being deeply drawn to images and in time they just took over any other interest I had.
AT: When did it become serious?
AV: After high-school I got a scholarship to study illustration at the European Institute of Design (IED) in Turin. After some years working free-lance in the field, I slowly drifted towards an independent artistic practice that would allow me to express my own content and to leave behind the need of a narrative to support the images I was creating. Now I have my own studio where I can fully focus on developing my work and I spend there most of my time.
AT: Are there any person that have been significant in your progression as an artist?
AV: Almost four years ago, with my partner Mattia Lullini, I have opened a small project space in Gothenburg called Nevven. Now that project has become a proper gallery and a partially state-funded project for Contemporary art. Even if I am not anymore full-time involved in it, this project has surely been one of my most significant sources of inspiration and growth as an artist in these past few years as it allowed me to meet in person artists and professionals with different practices and experiences to share. I think meeting other artists and seeing their work in person is one of the most valuable experience to grow as an artist yourself.
AT: What’s your first approach to the work? Where does your process start?
AV: I rarely know what is going to happen when I go to the studio, I might go there thinking that I will make a new canvas but maybe I will end up with a series of drawings or an idea for a sculpture. I try to stay open to chance and to sudden inspiration. In the studio for me is important to disconnect from what is outside and focus on what I have in my mind, on the things that recently captured my attention or on some looming feeling that has been with me for some time. My process starts with drawing, even just a few small drawings on paper, to take out the pressure of creating something that has to be forcefully good or finished. This allows me to focus on the gesture and on the feeling that I want to convey with it, more than on the expectations that I might have on the result.
Installation view, studio (2018)
AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?
AV: Researching tools and materials is essential for me to push forward my practice. The mark is central to my work and the use of a different tool or material has a great influence on its expressive possibilities. A different texture or feel, a different degree of control over a new media allows new meanings to come forward. So, even if I definitely have some favourites since a long time – like charcoal -, I am always looking for something new. For example, when I am abroad I always bring home things from different art stores and, once back in the studio, what I found can be the point of start for a whole new series of works, and in some ways I like the fact that I might not have the possibility to work with it again. For a long time I worked only with paper, pushing it to its limits by washing, scratching and painting it, but last year I started to use raw canvas, primed and unprimed, as a base for my drawings and that has opened a whole new territory of experimentation. Even if I do not consider my self as a painter, I feel like I have found my own way to deal with the canvas format and sort of breaking it down into something I love to work with. I also started to use oil and acrylics, mostly straight from the tube so that I can work with them with a quickness very similar to the one of drawing. For what concerns sculptures, I mostly use clay, but I am looking forward to start including new materials in my work.
AT: Do you leave your work open to interpretation? Or do you think the viewer should engage with your work in a specific way?
AV: I don’t want for my work to have a univocal reading. I want it to be direct but never self-explanatory. Since the focus of my practice is the realm of feelings, the inner side of the individual, there are few things that can be univocally described. I am interested in portraying the contradictions and the ambiguities that characterise our way of feeling and thinking, of relating with ourselves and with society, but not in explaining or simplifying them. I like that in different moments the same artwork can hold different meanings to someone (and also to myself), as if it was able to respond to the different states of mind of the viewer. A body, knotted into an impossible position, can represent a self-embrace as much as a paralysing doubt, a crossed out silhouette can be perceived as a gesture of erasure but also of liberation, it really depends on how the viewer relates to the work in a specific moment and that for me adds a great richness to the work.
AT: How do you feel while you are working? You think of the final result?
AV: When I work in the studio I try to avoid thinking too much about the final result. I want to put as little filter as possible between me and my work. If I think too much about how it will turn out, I will most certainly get stuck. Some of my favourite works have happened on the backside of a failed painting or as a last carefree attempt after a bad day in the studio.
AT: How do you understand when a work is finished?
AV: My process is pretty fast, I often consider the work finished as soon as I stop working on it, maybe in a couple of sessions. What actually takes long for me is to understand if the work is good or not, or how I can present it – like if I want to stretch it, hang it or leave it as it is. I might need to to look at it for days, sometimes months before deciding. Occasionally, I can re-work some pieces and get some great ideas out of it, but normally prefer to start from scratch if I feel something went wrong.
Untitled (Unresolved) – Charcoal, acrylics, oil stick and soft pastels on cotton canvas, artist’s frame, 90x80cm, 2018
Untitled (Body) – Charcoal and soft pastels on cotton canvas, 70x80cm, 2018
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from? Do you find inspiration outside or it’s all inside you?
AV: My work is very personal and deals a lot with my own feelings and sensations. Although it is also extremely influenced by what I observe in people around me, but even then, my interest is always about what happens inside, on the inner reaction to a given situation. Also words inspires me a lot, especially when taken out of context, so when they can still assume different meanings. I find words that catch my attentions in books, poems or even in lines from random conversations and I isolate them and try to visualize their multiple nuances and give them a physical representation. In the process I often get obsessed with some concepts that end up surfacing over and over again in my work.
AT: Do you think art can be learned or it is something innate?
AV: In my opinion art is a way of expressing oneself, or of expressing and communicating society, through a specific language which is visual. I think everyone needs to find an output for what they feel in order to stay sane and alive, but most effective way to achieve this way to might differ person to person. Everyone can be thought to draw an apple or a perfect horse, but that does not mean that any person will be ever able or interested in expressing something with it.
AT: There are any artists that influenced your works? Why?
AV: The unapologetically expressive work of Louise Bourgeois and the eloquence of materials of Eva Hesse, the marks and words of Twombly, Marlene Dumas’ writings in the book “Sweet Nothings”, the female forms by Picasso and De Kooning, which I am interested in seeing re-explored from a female perspective, and recently I got very inspired by the artistic unruliness of the wonderful Rose Wylie.
AT: How important is for you the role of social media?
AV: Even if I am a bit worried of what social media are doing to our way of relating to each other and with ourselves, I think that – if used only professionally – Instagram (the only social media I basically use) is a great way to connect with other artists and professionals from all over the world, regardless of where you are geographically based. So in that sense for me is and has been super important. Still, I don’t think it will ever be able to substitute the experience of looking at art in person or to visit an artist’s studio in real life, and it is tricky because it is easy to forget about it since it is so comfortable to have access to so much content in one place.
Untitled (Head) – stoneware clay, glazed, 15x15x25 cm c.a., 2018.
Untitled (Head) II – terracotta, unglazed, 15x18x30 cm c.a., 2018.
AT: What’s your opinion about the contemporary art system nowadays from your point of view as an artist?
AV: I am happy to see that a system which has been always excluding women and minorities (with some exceptions – but too few) is slowly starting to be more inclusive and correcting its mistakes, and I think this will bring a great enrichment to what we are used to see and to be confronted with when it comes to art, but also when in comes to culture in general. Beside this, the art system as a mirror of the art market does not interests me that much and I believe the most interesting things tend to happen on the fringes of it, so that is were I like to look.
AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
AV: Well, it’s obviously hard to make living with art. And it is hard to keep yourself separated from your work, and don’t get hit too bad when something you make does not get the reception you hoped for. Pursuing art requires so much drive, almost a senseless one, but when you have the possibility to show your work and you see that it is actually communicating something to the viewer, for me that is the greatest reward.
AT: What do you do outside of painting?
AV: I’m trying to learn Swedish
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
AV: My main goal is to try and keep on doing what I am doing and live from it.
Installation view, studio (2018)
ARTISTIC EDUCATION 2009 - 2012 Bachelor Degree with honors in Illustration and Animation, European Institute of Design, Turin (IT) EXHIBITIONS 2018 THIS HIDING PLACE, Solo show, Limited Works, Copenhagen (DK) “ILIJA WYLLER, NIELS TRANNOIS, ALINA VERGNANO” Curated by Maria Chiara Valacchi, Spazio Cabinet, Milan (IT) 2017 SILENT AUCTION, Group exhibition, The Drawingf Hub, Berlin (DE) NEJD, Group Show, Nejd, Gothenburg (SE) KONVERGENSER #3, Group show, Gallery Nevven, Gothenburg (SE) LILLA GÖTEBORG, group show, Raum Vollreinigung, Berlin (DE) TIDES, Solo show, Susan Petterson Gallery, Stockholm (SE) A LOT A LOT, group show, Galleri Thomassen, Gothenburg (SE) 2016 KONVERGENSER #2, Group show, Gallery Nevven, Gothenburg (SE) LIVE ARTENA 2016, Video Installation, Artena (IT) SUMMER GROUP SHOW, Gallery Magnus Winström, Gothenburg (SE) PUZZLED, Duo exhibition, Ladodo Design Gallery, Milan (IT) SPRING EXHIBITION, Galleri Thomassen, Gothenburg (SE) 2015 SUSPENDED, three person exhibition, Nevven Gallery, Gothenburg, (SE) RESTLESS DREAMER, solo show, STOCK20 Art Gallery, Taichung (Taiwan) UNKNOWN LAND, solo show, Freedom Man Residency, Taichung (Taiwan) HERE WITHIN US, group show, Show R[ ]m, Taichung (Taiwan) WHISPERS – SUSSURRI, solo show, Ubik Art, Pordenone (IT) KONVERGENSER #1, Nevven Gallery, Gothenburg (SE) EASTER SALON, Galleri Thomassen, Gothenburg (SE) ALINA VERGNANO & RICHARD WURM, Pablo Und Paul Gallery & Bo Concept, Munich (DE) 2014 DRÖMMARNAS FLYGSÄLLSKAP, group show, Fabriksg. 48 Gallery, Gothenburg (SE) STROKE ART FAIR 2014, Pablo Und Paul Gallery, Munich (DE) GROUP SHOW, A.muse Gallery, Turin (IT) WONDER VISION, three person show, Limited Works Copenhagen (DK) DREAM STATE, Alina Vergnano and Mattia Lullini, Galleri Hest, Copenhagen (DK) ICAF 2014, Rotterdam (NL) MICRO SALON #4, L’Inlassable Galerie, Paris (FR) THIS IS NOT STREET ART - STREET ART FESTIVAL DELHI, Social Space Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi (IN) 2013 THE OTHERS CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR 2013, Duo show, Cfr. Artecontemporanea, Torino (IT) EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY, Cfr. artecontempoarnea, Torino (IT) 2012 CATRAME E CEMENTO, group show, Crf. artecontemporanea,Torino (IT)
PUBLIC WORKS – MURALS 2016 ART MADE THIS, Gohenburg (SE) 2015 SMUKIFICERING VESTERBRO, Public commission by Byens Hegn, Copenhagen city Hall, Copenhagen (DK) GREEN RIPPLES ART FESTIVAL, Taichung, Taiwan FUORILUOGO FESTIVAL, Ubik Art Asssociazione Culturale, Pordenone (IT) 2014 VEDO A COLORI FESTIVAL (IT) MAAM ( Museo dell’Altrove ), Rome (IT) THE STPLN WINDOW PROJECT 2014, Malmo (SE) ST.ART DELHI FESTIVAL, New Delhi (IN) ART BOOKS 2017 Alina Vergnano “Consequences” Hand-painted art books, 12pp, unique edition Alina Vergnano “Internal Race” Hand-painted art books, 16pp, unique edition 2016 Alina Vergnano “Longing the day, Harvesting the night” Hand-painted art book, concertina 3mt, unique edition 2015 Alina Vergnano “Nowhereness” Hand-painted art book, 100pp, unique edition 2014 Alina Vergnano “Sguardi” Art Book, ed. 6/6 2013 Alina Vergnano “The wind was blowing strongly” Ed. 50/50, Thaumatropical RESIDENCIES (6/04/2015 – 8/04/2015) Freedom Men, Taichung (Taiwan) PUBLIC ACQUISITIONS S: Goteborg Konst, 2015