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Inside the Studio: Antonino Pilade

In this edition of "Inside the Studio," we delve into the captivating world of Antonino Pilade, an artist whose journey from Catania to Naples has profoundly influenced his multifaceted creative expressions. Pilade's exploration of various mediums, his significant collaborations, and his introspective series offer a rich tapestry of artistic evolution. Join us as we uncover the inspirations and experiences that shape Pilade's unique blend of visual art, photography, and filmmaking.




The Lost I


Read on to learn more in an exclusive interview with Antonino Pilade :

 

1. How did your early experiences in Naples shape your artistic journey and lead you to explore various mediums?

I was born and raised in Catania, a baroque seaside city in Sicily. As a child, I was reserved and didn't enjoy talking much. Among my many toys, my favorite was a box of dry pastel colors, and I spent countless hours drawing and painting. By the age of 15, I began exhibiting my work in local galleries and organizations. At 18, I felt a strong urge to explore beyond my familiar surroundings.


When the opportunity for mandatory military service arose, I viewed it as a chance for new experiences. Although it wasn't my aspiration, it allowed me to gain independence and new perspectives. This path led me to Naples, another seaside city like Catania, each nestled near a famous volcano—Etna and Vesuvius, respectively.


I believe I lived during one of the most vibrant periods in Naples' history. My first impression of the city upon arrival was the giant installation "Salt Mountain" by Mimmo Paladino in Piazza del Plebiscito. During that decade, Naples was a hub for contemporary art, thanks to Renato Nicolini, who was in charge of the Art Council in Naples, and the renowned art critic Achille Bonito Oliva. The city's dynamic art scene was incredibly inspiring. I had the opportunity to witness works by artists such as Mario Merz and Luigi Mainolfi up close.


In the same year that I was serving in the military, I began working at a cultural center, where I had access to their laboratory. There, I produced large canvas paintings and ceramic sculptures. Naples provided me with immense energy and inspiration, but my vision was always looking forward, beyond the immediate.


My art often depicted imaginary, metropolitan cities populated by multicultural communities, resembling more closely New York or London than Naples. The cultural center where I honed my craft was frequented by prominent figures from the worlds of acting, music, and art. One day, the critic and journalist Arcangelo Izzo came across my paintings. He decided to call my series "Metropolitan," drawing comparisons to places like Harlem—a place I was unfamiliar with at the time.


I view my early artistic expressions as a premonition of my future. Today, I live in a city and neighbourhood remarkably similar to the ones I depicted in my artwork during my youth.


Stream Of Unconsciousness

2. Can you discuss the significance of your collaboration with Sergio Siano and how it influenced your approach to photography and painting?

During that time, I had the chance to meet and connect with many artists. Observing their works up close became a learning process for me, allowing me to delve deeper into the aesthetics, techniques, and history of modern and contemporary art. Sergio, who worked as a photo-reporter and eventually became a close friend, was a regular supporter of the center where I worked. The center’s mission was to safeguard and maintain the historic location, which included the hill with the ramp-path to Monte Echia and the Lamont Young Castle.


Sergio created an incredible series of photos showcasing the castle and its surroundings to raise awareness and support for the castle's preservation. He asked me to select some of his photos to paint on, incorporating my imaginary urban subjects into his beautiful black-and-white photographs.


Gash Of Light

3. What inspired your "Contemporary Reflection" series, and how do you explore introspection and contemporary themes in this work?

During the lockdown, I had deep thoughts about civilizations of the past and our present time and about humanity as human beings living on this planet. Our civilization has been aging the true nature of things. I felt a loss of connection as a soul, drifting through consciousness.


"Hearts' Connection," a sculpture installation, was the first work made in consideration of this deep reflection during the end of the lockdown. I didn’t have access to my studio, so I set up my equipment in my flat to start working on those topics through photography: "Ego" and "The Lost I."


I started to call this period of my life "contemporary reflection," and I named my new studio/workspace with this, because I want people to think about it. I brought all this introspective conversation into my new series of paintings with "Inner Me" and the series called "Rorschach Blots," a very intimate work.



Hearts Connection

4. How do you balance your work in cinematography and filmmaking with your visual art practice?


I spend a lot of time in my studio. All my work, from painting to photography and film, is a process of personal reflection and is made up of life events that generate thoughts. I observe, incubate, and then produce. One of my latest works, "A Gash of Light," uses photography and includes the human subject with my sculpture to discuss sacrality and human patterns. Then, I use the same setup in film, asking my subjects to think about their past, present, and future. In that case, the work becomes a film. The integration of all my skills is very organic and natural; it flows with all my poetics.



Rorschach Blots

5. Can you share a memorable experience from one of your international exhibitions or collaborations?

There are different moments because those are all achievements. My first real collaboration, not just an exhibition, started in 2007 with Monika Burian and Vernon Galleries in Prague, the invitation to participate at the Tina B Contemporary Festival, and in 2008, the commission of my interactive video installation "Artist’s Game," which combined my skills in illustration, film, and digital technology. Once again, this work underlined the social aspect of how the internet was affecting our behavior.



EGO

6. How do you incorporate the cultural and historical aspects of Naples into your artwork?

I don’t think about any specific place when I consider my artwork or during the process itself. It is more about society. The place is just a condition of the moment where you live or just pass through. I am talking about humans and humanity.



Hearts Connection

7. What techniques and tools are essential in your creative process?

Thoughts. A human is a thinking machine who lives for and with thoughts; art is a reflection of life and society, which humans manifest through a medium, and this can be anything.



Social Patterns

8. What advice would you give to artists who want to explore multidisciplinary approaches and push artistic boundaries?

Learn and study everything. Challenge yourself. Know your past to understand the future better. Don’t limit yourself and never listen to people who tell you that you can’t do it.


Intimacy in Chiaro Scuro

Antonino Pilade’s journey is a testament to the power of exploration and reflection in art. From his early days in Catania to his vibrant experiences in Naples and beyond, Pilade's work continues to push boundaries and invite introspection. Stay tuned for more inspiring stories and exclusive interviews on Art Dealer Street.

 

You can learn more about Antonino Pilade and his work via these links: Website: https://www.antoniopilade.com/ , https://www.apfmproduction.co.uk/ Instgram: @antoniopilade Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/apfmproduction

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