Leonardo Pellicanò


“This life is not something you simply choose, it happens to you, as if part of your nature”

AT: Where are you from and how/why you start engaging to art?

LP: I am originally from Rome. I guess I wouldn’t ascribe my first engagement with art with the act of drawing, or making small clays sculptures, which most children naturally do, just following their natural intuition. I would identify the origin of a creative mindset with being very distant from the world, deciding instead to wander all day in peripheral and exotic places of the mind, creating stories and parallel realities that deal with the mystery of being alive. This blessed state comes with a strong degree of alienation and discomfort with the things that are actually happening around you.


AT: When did it become serious?

LP: I’m afraid it always has been a whole lot of trouble.


AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist

LP: Anyone who contributes by truly looking into the work, finding elements of themselves in the liveliness of the paintings, letting my world inhabit them for a few moments. That is what keeps me alive, and the images in a perpetual state of proliferation: the possibility of reaching out, from my depths, to the depths of someone else. If I had to name one person, it would be Adrian Paci, I went to the academy in Milan because of him, and I ended up assisting him for three years, sometimes holding the class myself, and eventually teaching my own courses, which was a great validation and an unmatched formative experience, as an artist, and a teacher.


AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?

LP: After many years of radically changing and testing the nature of the work, somehow always remaining inextricably linked to painting, I have understood that any specific technical structures must be avoided. The heart of the work is about throwing oneself in the midst of excruciating doubt. As any radical poetic expression, it comes from annihilating one’s past, with all the expectations that come from it,  finding oblivious moments of ecstatic expression.

PLAYGROUND, Acrylics, spray, oil pastel on raw jute, 140 x 160 cm, 2018.

AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?

LP: The work can function as a translation into images of far out thoughts, re-connecting with a wide range of feelings and concepts that have been lost in our current capitalist culture. I feel we are visually suffocated by the urban environment, culturally suffocated by the societal expectations put on us from birth, of which we must temporarily get rid of, to recover lost truths. Bringing novel ideas in the world with foolish conviction, can help us strip back layers of deception, about who we are and the way we live our interior lives, which are often left behind for the pursuit of material goals. My intention is to create moments of pregnant speechlessness, in whatever way possible.


AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?

LP: I use anything from big sized raw jute canvases, wood, acrylics, oil, spray and pure pigments. The paint can be thrown in dust form on drying glue, or it can be meticulously drawn with the flimsiest of brushes. These outwardly and inwardly moments are what keep my world alive. The movements go from freeing big and wide physical gestures to introspective torments.


AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?

LP: The final result must be avoided at all costs, what I am looking for are open ended images. I am looking to be surprised myself. The feeling is the euphoria of chasing visions, following every desire to its completion or painful erasure, eliminating any hesitation between observing the endless swarming images residing beneath the eyelids, and their appearance on the surface.


AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?

LP: The work usually tells me when it is finished, it feels as if its staring right back. Being attemptive is necessary, to know when to stop.

A HAUNTED HOUSE ON A SUNNY DAY IS STILL A HAUNTED HOUSE, Acrylics and raw pigments on raw canvas, 105×140 cm, 2019.
UNTITLED, Acrylics, raw pigments on raw canvas, 105×140 cm, 2019.

Where does the inspiration for the work come from?

LP: I feel as if it comes from elsewhere. Sometimes it feels like a place that exists parallel to this one, the job of the artists merely becomes one of medium, a translator, of things that are unraveling before you. Archetypal stories and images that are deeply imbedded in our ancestral culture come out of this process. We all have access to this space, it is the wonderful and mysterious world that quietly awaits us when we close our eyes, the world we are all afraid to confront, drowning it in endless stimulation, the world of fleeting and ancient memories.


AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?

LP: Many different artistic influences, all across history deeply affect me and my work, some appear visibly and some in secret and complicit agreements. From Antonio Mancini to medieval prints and manuscripts, from eastern religious iconography to Kai Althoff. I could go on, but I won’t, because during the work all ideas of authorship are suspended, things come into the work, but are immediately transformed accordingly to the necessity of a specific moment. The work is the space where all the references blend, and subsequently disappear.


AT: How important is the role of social media for you?

LP: Social media is now part of us, almost an extension of our nervous system. Everyone can be the protagonist of their own marvelous platform. Through our social media profile, we portray ourselves exactly as we want. This can be exciting and empowering for harnessing the potential of individuals, to reach anywhere in the world at anytime. At the same time it is a narcissism inducing, trash generating enterprise, that is merging with our neurology, eliminating the necessity of interacting with our bodies. All of this reduces the nuance of existence, which is social, perceptual, conversational, sensorial, physical and cannot be contained in the hypnotizing LCD screens that are ruling over the majority of our visual fields. This is why painting, singing, dancing shall posses us!  With the help of the lyrical power and moral acuity of the true artists and poets to assist us in our pursuit. Art needs to seek for ways of interacting between each other, taking us away from this often very alienating digital landscape. Art can challenges us, by bringing the depths of our mind into awareness. It can bring us from the limited paradigm of the technological algorithms that dictate our interactions, to rediscovering our emotional and human nature, by facing inner fears and desires.

ALL OF THE TABLES IN ALL OF THE ROOMS, Acrylics, spray, oil, brass dust on raw canvas, 180×160 cm, 2019.

AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?

LP: It is too early for me to give a well informed judgement. I have until now worked with institutions and realities that are very close to being part of this system, but not enough to guarantee a real growth for a young artist, reason why I always prefer to flee from  certain situation and seek answers only within the work. My struggle has not been one of seeking for instant recognition on a professional level, but that of creating stimulating and intense situations even where there are not, through dialogue, teaching, and curating, to develop new ways of interacting. Art needs to be contagious, it needs to spread like a virus, an awareness, curiosity and imagination awakening virus, that doesn’t always rely on existing systems, but creates new ones. Of course this becomes a struggle when there is no feedback, or economic gain, this is why artists should infiltrate systems ( not get assimilated by them ), to use them for art’s sake, to spread real and raw, thought provoking, soul shaking art with all the energies at their disposal.


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?

LP: This life is not something you simply choose, it happens to you, as if part of your nature. It is indeed a very challenging life, full of hardships and doubts, at the same time it is deeply freeing, blissful and privileged existence in the pursuit of something meaningful, that is always running away and changing shape.


AT: What do you do besides art?

LP: The minimum possible, just the regular everyday things that a person should do to feel a bit grounded: be around friends and loved ones, eat, sleep and clean. Many times I struggle to keep these basic tenants of existence in mind, it is really problematic.


AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?

LP: For me to continue creating. For my work to reshape me, and bring me wherever I need to be, or somewhere else entirely. To give me the strength to speak my truth and carry it with me as a luminous bulb of contagious excitement.

THERE WILL BE TIME FOR EVERYTHING (detail), Acrylics, oil, and raw pigments on raw canvas, 140 x 156 cm, 2019.
Leonardo Pellicanò (b. 1994) is an Italian painter currently living and working in Lausanne, Switzerland.

 In his pictorial process, Pellicanò explores the contradictions of being and imagination. His work feeds on a great imaginative richness, while retaining an essentialy. His latest production is characterized by light backdrops that open towards large spaces, populated by archetypal forms and allusive presences. It is a painting that aims to capture the transience of our inner world.