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A tell-all interview with Italian artist Niccolò Pellegrino

In the interstice of artistic expression, where the tangible converges with the evanescent, resides the creative nexus embodied by Italian artist Niccolò Pellegrino. London-based since 2018, Pellegrino's oeuvre embraces instinctual and irrational comportments as integral aspects of the human condition.

Pellegrino recently undertook a live painting performance during the Adrianne Weber London Fashion Week show. Carlotta, AW Magazine curator, sat down with the artist to delve into his practice, his motivations for collaborating with Adrianne Weber, and the profound intersection between art and fashion.


© Andrea Brandt



Carlotta Quadrati: What drew you to collaborate with Adrianne Weber? How does the brand's visual aesthetic correspond with your artistic perspective?

Niccolò Pellegrino: The proposition to collaborate with Adrianne Weber resonated deeply with me from its inception. I saw AW as a beacon exemplifying an imperative dialogue among diverse art forms—a dialogue that entails mutual enrichment and incisive interrogation. I was immediately drawn to AW's approach to celebrating the corporeal form, its interplay of hues and textures, and the manner in which fabric and form intertwine to unveil a narrative oscillating between the visible and the concealed. I felt a sudden connection, I liked how AW’s creations seemed to “dance” around the models’ bodies, evoking reminiscences of my own painterly process, where materials intertwine to engender multilayered interpretations.


© Panos Papagiannopoulos


CQ: How do you interpret the convergence of fashion and art within this collaborative framework? What unique dimension does live painting bring to a fashion showcase?

NP: The allure of the catwalk lies in its perpetual oscillation between reality and artifice. Thus, the opportunity to introduce a performative element capable of catalysing the audience's imagination was profoundly appealing to me. Live painting, to my mind, embodies the encapsulation of the ephemeral—transmuting auditory and ambient energies into a timeless painterly tableau. The resultant painting serves as tangible evidence of the ephemeral coalescence of catwalk and performance—events temporally confined yet eternalized through art.

 © Andrea Brandt 


CQ: Could you elaborate on the thematic underpinnings of your live painting during the catwalk show? Your preparatory sketches diverged significantly from the final outcome, underscoring the potency of the performative act. Could you expound upon this transformative process?

NP: I endeavoured to approach the performance with minimal preconception, fostering a liberated state of mind and body (within reasonable bounds, obviously!). Initially guided by preparatory sketches featuring feminine figures in a dance-like reverie, I sought to encapsulate the kinetic vigour animating the models and transpose it onto the canvas. However, the act of painting unfolded organically, veering towards a primal, kinetic energy. Utilising diverse materials—ranging from red wine to textiles—I embarked on a visceral exploration transcending the initial thematic premise. The resultant painting, thus, emerged as a testament to spontaneity, its vibrant hues and dynamic textures echoing the raw vitality of the performance.




CQ: The vibrant hues and tactile impastos pervading your oeuvre imbue your works with an animated quality, suggestive of subjects poised to transcend their pictorial confines. Could you elucidate on the significance of your colour palette and painterly application, and their impact on the final composition?

NP: My affinity for 'fleshy' hues, particularly red, has been a recurrent motif in my practice—an ode to vitality and corporeal resonance. However, I find myself traversing beyond the confines of my 'RED' phase, embracing a surrealist palette that invites interpretative freedom. Texture and volumetric gesturings derive inspiration from sculptural forms, evoking the tactile engagement emblematic of sculptural creation. My canvases, akin to expansive sketches or collages, eschew conventional notions of harmony, inviting discordant interplay between disparate elements. Moreover, while I remain anchored in the realm of painting, my artistic lexicon is profoundly informed by sculpture—its rawness, its primal allure, and its capacity for emotive resonance. 

© Andrea Brandt



CQ: Live painting, as a genre, engenders a dualistic endeavor wherein the performance itself assumes artistic significance alongside the finished painting. Different levels of intensity align with the rhythm of the music playing in the background, evoking a visceral and instinctive response. How do you navigate the dialectic between spontaneity and premeditation in your live performances, vis-à-vis meticulously planned studio sessions?

NP: Both witnessing and doing a live performance is quite a special event. Music serves as an ever-present companion in my artistic endeavours—guiding and augmenting the ebb and flow of my creative impulses. 

The live performance, an amalgamation of auditory, spatial, and emotive stimuli, engenders a symbiotic interplay between artist, audience, and ambiance. Unlike the studio environment, wherein isolation and ponderation reign supreme, live performances foster a dialogue with the immediate surroundings—yielding a rich tapestry of sensory experiences that inform the overall process. The resultant work, thus, encapsulates not merely a visual artifact, but a temporal confluence of disparate energies and intentions. Looking back, I believe my intention was to capture and confine those forces within the canvas, which is why I ultimately crumpled it up and sealed it like a treasure chest. But after all, who knows... what happens during the performance stays in the performance!

© Paul Scala


CQ: The symbiotic relationship between art and fashion has been a perennial subject of inquiry within artistic discourse. How do you perceive your live painting contributing to or challenging this historical dialogue?

NP: The intermingling of disparate mediums has emerged as a recurrent motif within my practice—an expression of my innate curiosity and interest for artistic synthesis. Together with Adrianne, Carlotta, and Pete, the set designer, we decided to position the canvas on the floor, at the centre of the catwalk. We sought to transcend conventional delineations between art and fashion—transforming the canvas into a locus of visceral emotive resonance. 

The collaboration with Adrianne Weber has deepened my appreciation for the corporeal form, its myriad complexities and vulnerabilities. In an era characterised by the imperatives of mass production, dehumanisation and digitalisation, the live performance stands as an elegy to the rawness and vitality of human imperfection. 

© Panos Papagiannopoulos



CQ: Analogous to a live catwalk show, the transitory nature of your live painting raises profound questions concerning temporality and permanence—themes that resonate deeply within the realm of time-based art. How do you grapple with the ephemeral nature of your creations vis-à-vis the enduring legacy of traditional artworks?

NP: While music exerts an immediate emotive resonance, painting, in its silent allure, invites a more nuanced engagement—one that unfolds gradually over time. It is precisely this temporal dimension that imbues painting with its enduring allure, fostering a perpetual dialogue between creator and beholder. Unlike music, whose impact wanes with the passage of time, painting endures—its resonance deepening with each successive encounter. Thus, while the live performance epitomises the transient nature of artistic expression, the resultant painting serves as a tangible testament to the enduring legacy of human creativity—a timeless artifact that transcends the temporal confines of its inception.

When I do a live performance, a small, secretive, intimate universe is created. An alchemy between the canvas, the audience and myself unfolds, only to exist within that specific time and space. The interpretation of what remains after the conclusion is subjective and can only be truly understood by those who witnessed the events. There is a sort of ghostly trail left behind, which I think is very interesting and inevitably reverberates in the end product. 


© Paul Scala