Interview with Pietro Campagnoli
by Paula Soito
Paula – Pietro, your work is absolutely stunning. The skill and vision you have is something to appreciate, for sure. Can you tell me how you came to be a sculptor and about the years leading up to your career as an artist?
Pietro – I started my career at 17 with my first exhibition at the Ingenio Arte Contemporanea Gallery in Turin. The curator Tea Taramino helped me a lot by introducing me to galleries, museums and foundations. I have always preferred a self-taught research, as I think the artistic work is so unique and personal that it should not be too influenced by the masters or the market. Our feelings are not a trend or something influenceable, they are only to be expressed.
Paula – That’s a very introspective take on being a creator. How has your art changed and evolved over the years? And what is it that inspires you?
Pietro – As an artist I draw inspiration from Roman and Greek classical sculptures and from Magritte’s surrealism. I looked for an evocative style that could be understood even by people who have nothing to do with contemporary art. I went from representing ghost-like sculptures to works that more decisively represented the transition condition of the human being from the present state to the future state. The transhumance of the individual from the physical to the existential state is one of the points of my research.
The world is therefore its own representation, its own optical illusion. The Philosopher Schopenhauer believes that the representation, the reality that stands before us, is nothing more than a “badly inked photocopy”, concealing the true reality of things (from this assertion the influence of Plato’s study shines through).
In order to arrive at the nominal reality, the real one, one cannot therefore travel the path of rational knowledge, since it is relegated to the sphere of representation, which on the basis of the fourfold principle of sufficient reason will always show us a totally determined world.
My works are the metaphor of the human being who cannot perceive reality, and who is driven by a continuous wind that makes his perception of existence waver, tossed between the pains and joys of the real world and the world of the human mind.
Paula – I can see the influence of Greek and Roman classics in your form and the influence of Magritte in your use of common items from our lives such as lace. Speaking of everyday life, life has certainly been quite different for us all these past months. With the global pandemic spanning around the world and especially with its affect on Italy, how has life been for you personally and professionally living in Turin? Have you been able to continue your work and have your family and friends been doing well?
Pietro – In this isolation I started to think a lot about my Western condition. I am lucky. I live in a house with a garden. I have a dog and all of my relatives live in my same family-run building. I have lived in my house since my birth. I have my grandparents, my parents, my uncles, and my cousins of the same age with whom I take an aperitif in the garden every day at 19.00 p.m.
My housing condition is solid, based on solid relationships, in a vast and comfortable space. The western society here in Italy is based on physical security: the family home, the second home on the sea and in the mountains, the concept of a united family.
The house is not generally seen as precarious. We do not have wooden houses like Americans that are blown away at the first tornado, or sheet metal shacks like certain areas of Africa. The house is not seen as an emotional certainty, but I realize that for many it can be the opposite. This reminded me very much of the work of an illustrious fellow artist of mine, Mario Merz, and his Igloos. They have the reassuring shape of an alcove, but their architecture made up of sharp glass plates makes them disturbing, dangerous and precarious. A metaphor for the living conditions of many populations in the world.
Paula – That’s such an interesting perspective. With that said, I’d like to talk about the Pandemic some more. I learned recently that you showed great heart for your country and for people around the globe by taking part in a special fund raiser that contributed ALL its proceeds towards the purchase of ventilators for hospitals on the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus. Can you tell me more about this special event?
Pietro – ART4BREATH is a global live-streaming charity auction whose aim is purchasing respiratory devices for as many hospitals worldwide on the front line in the fight against coronavirus. ART4BREATH is at the same time a unique collective, conceptual art work on a global scale created by Marco Guglielmi Reimmortal with 11 [HellHeaven] Art Gallery. As an Italian artist, I wanted to make a contribution to this event because in Italy there was a deep crisis due to the coronavirus and I felt very responsible as an Italian citizen.
Paula – Congratulations on recently being represented by Boccara Art, an network of international galleries. How happy are you about this partnership? And with their offices in being in London, Hong Kong, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Paris and more, are you excited for the global exposure?
Pietro – I am very happy with this collaboration and can’t wait to start. I think in this regard that many Italian artists should aim more to work with the foreign market. There are contacts in Italy, and many too, since my country is an international cultural reference for art. The problem is that some young Italian artists have a somewhat provincial vision when it comes to working with galleries. They look above all at local opportunities. Why, it is not clear to me yet. Perhaps they think that working with foreign countries is impossible, but in reality it is not at all. I am proof of that.
Paula – With your work now being added to some major international fairs such as Art Paris, Frieze London, New York Art Fair and so on, will you be traveling to attend these fairs?
Pietro – Certainly, I love to travel for work. I have met many of my important collaborators in this way. I also noticed how Italian art is still viewed with great charm abroad, and how we Italian artists are seen as high quality creators. I don’t know why in my country many artists underestimate themselves so much.
Paula – You have been open about having Asperger Syndrome and how it has benefitted your IQ, but also how it has been difficult on your relationships. Can you tell us more about both the benefits and hurdles it has added to your life?
Pietro – I have always had difficulty perceiving people’s real emotions. Reality is the product of our consciousness; it is the world as it appears to us, while the unknown reality of our essence is the thing in itself, the true foundation of the world. The material phenomenon that I describe with my sculptures is illusion, dream: between us and reality there is a screen that makes us see it distorted and not as it really is: the veil of Maya. My existence has always been permeated by this veil, but despite the difficulty of relationships, it has given me a meaning to my existence because who has this syndrome has a single passion that fills his life, and for me this passion is the Art.
Paula – Where do you see the next 10 years taking you in your art career? What are your goals?
Pietro – I wish I could have a lot more money to carry out all the big projects I have in mind, projects that need a lot of resources to be realized. As Damien Hirst said: “When you gain something in art you must immediately reinvest them in creating larger works, it is useless to waste them for frivolity”.