“I don’t think I chose to be an artist, I believe I never imagined that I could do anything else”
AT: Where are you from and how/why you start engaging to art?
PG: I was born in Turin and grew up in a creative family. My father played the violin and painted. He is the reason I fell in love with art since I was a child. While attending Art High School I was lucky to have art professors such as Luigi Mainolfi, Gilberto Zorio, Marco Gastini, and Sergio Ragalzi. During that period I started working with them as an assistant. At the ‘Accademia Albertina’ of Turin I made some connections with people who had my same passion for art. Together we shared the first studies. I don’t think I chose to be an artist, I believe I never imagined that I could do anything else.
AT: When did it become serious?
PG: From the beginning. The group of artist-friends with whom I shared my first studies were always competitive but this stimulated me. The union between us lasted only a few years but was formative for everyone.
AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?
PG: I should make a very long list but perhaps the ones who motivated me more are my children. When you have children you understand that you have to use your energy well by eliminating the wast of time. The bird of my daughter Sofia made me do radical choices and my passion turned into a profession.
AT: What’s your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?
PG: Surely I became an art professional with the collaboration, that began in 2000, with the gallery of Giorgio Persano. Persano had a gallery since the 70’s and the artists he worked with were “poveristi” and a lot of other international artists. When i started to work with him the level of my research has risen and my art has entered in some important collections and in international circuits.
“Nodi”, 2017 |Anna Marra Contemporanea | Courtesy of the artist.
AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?
PG: I never ask myself this question. I am more pragmatic and I know that you have to work hard every day and then the results come, so I don’t create expectations for myself. I work, and then what comes is appreciated.
AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?
PG: My work is based on investigating some aspects of today’s society. I’m used to changing my method and materials of work often, from wax to metals, from cement to glass and other materials like sponge, paper, polystyrene and stone. It’s the different topic that choose the materials, I don’t choose them.
AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?
PG: Yes, I think about the final result and also about the next work to realize and this creates frenzy in me for conclude what I am doing to be able to start the next work. During the realization of this there isn’t personal pleasure, the works of art must be created quickly and natively, if this does not happen the work is not interesting and is destroyed.
AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?
PG: I can’t explain this, I just know it. Maybe it’s the work that tells me when it’s completed.
“Deriva”, 2007-2011, Synthetic sponge on resin cardboard and wood, Variable dimensions | ph. Jessica Quadrelli.
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?
PG: The inspiration or the need to create a work comes from a succession of events that affect the everyday but which have roots in the man’s history, I like to call them: perennial themes. These themes are those constants that resist over time. They might change, but not in their essence, and are generally conflicting issues concerning human existence. The themes I investigate are the relationship between humanity and nature, between humanity and death, and between humanity and geo-political limits.
AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?
PG: I think that a master halfway between two centuries is Bruce Nauman. Nauman never had an immediately recognizable style. His research is hard, radical and uncompromising and he uses expressive medium to get to the point of matter. His voice is unequivocal, firm and his themes always investigate the precarious condition of man in a profound and disarming way.
AT: How important is the role of social media for you?
PG: I don’t use social media very much. I belong to a generation previous to digital natives. I’m not very fascinated by it and sometimes it bothers me. I use only one social media because with that you can post images and do it without written word that on social media usually become chatter. This social network allows me to express myself with the images of my works and I like this, also because I can reach people all over the world. Sometimes I almost feel like sending a message with a bottle in the sea.
“T”, 2019 | ph. Jessica Quadrelli.
“Serie Zero”, 2018.
AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?
PG: I don’t have an opinion on the art system, or rather I have abandoned the curiosity of investigate a “system”. All systems failed. The “system” is the least interesting part of art. My presumptuous intent is that the system needs me and not the contrary.
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?
PG: Surely the most positive, but also the most negative, aspect of being an artist is being a free person and having great responsibility towards society. The artist in his being is contradictory.
AT: What do you do besides art?
PG: I teach Art at the academy.
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
PG: Perhaps I’ve already answered at this question in the previous one. I wish there will be a future with more artists.
“Riot (The Two Towers)”, 2019, Synthetic sponge on polystyrene, resins and chairs, 400x300x300 cm | Courtesy of the artist.
Paolo Grassino (b. 1967) is an Italian sculptor currently living and working in Turin, Italy. With his works he proposes a reflection on the drifts of today's society, suspended on the ridge between natural and artificial, between precariousness and mutation. His work is above all a research that fully recovers the sense of manual skill: working with synthetic rubber, wood, polystyrene and wax but also with more advanced techniques such as aluminium castings or cement casts, he brings his sculptural works to a high degree of spectacularity.