Fabio Marco Pirovino

You provided the artwork for our AW16 collection, can you tell us about your experience with that? Have you had any prior experiences with fashion?

The experience was pretty straight forward as you guys knew what you needed and used it. I did some fashion shoots as a photographer while studying photography in Zurich.

What about the process of creating Razzle Dazzle (PPG) and its’ connection to Picasso’s Guernica?

Razzle Dazzle (PPG) was based on the first image of Guernica I found on the internet - I overpainted it in photoshop by using the eyedropper tool to take the color of an area. Like that I created a abstract pattern. The image was then painted upside-down on the wall as many times as it fits creating some sort of camouflage effect. I used a few references to Guernica until then in my work. The painting is important to me because I saw it in Barcelona at a young age - I think around 11 - I was already very interested in art making but I saw what Picasso painted when he was 11 - did not motivate me to paint much.

How often do you consider the concept of camouflage within your work, perhaps in regards to pattern, covering?


Your work seems to focus mainly around drawing and painting. Do you have any interest in experimenting with other mediums like sculpture, photography, video, etc.?

My early work is photography as I studied photography - I consider drawing my underlying practice to all what I do though and I always wanted to use photography as painterly practice. I was bored by photography for quite a while but just now I am working on a new series which I am very excited about. New printing processes have emerged compared to 5 years ago as well which makes it more interesting again. I tried to make some sculpture early on but stopped doing it as I was not sure what or how sculpture can be made without it being shallow or empty so instead I focussed on flat stuff. In my latest show at Frutta Gallery in Rome together with Sam Porritt I showed sculpture as well as painting which I am very happy about.

You tend to use black and white in a lot of your works. Is this intentional or a natural response to your process?

I used B&W in the beginning a lot but then made a conscious decision to use colour more which I did for an extended period. With the newer work it’s more about the properties of black paint and how it translates through the different processes I send it through. But I really like B&W as well so it’s ok for me. There will be colour again.

Can you tell me about your scribble drawings and paintings?

The first scribble (drawing) I made around 2009 - it was made by photographing a scribble I did on my table. At that time I used several photographs of the same object/form/thing to patch them together to create a new image/collage- It started out of necessity as the resolution of the digital cameras wasn’t high enough for big prints - so I increased it by using more then one image. I did 4 scribble works like that and then didn’t do any for a few years but always knew I want to go back to it. So when I lived in New York I did not have a studio but I wanted to keep doing big works and not give in to the confinement of the size of the studio I had. I created a technique involving plexiglass, indian ink and a scanner to create the new series of scribbles (drawings). They are drawn on plexiglass in one go then scanned and scaled up and finally printed on canvas then stretched. With the newer work I showed in Rome the process is different and instead of a pen I use my hands and acrylic paint. Each form you see was made exactly the size it is printed so there is no scaling involved anymore.

Razzle Dazzle (PPG), the artwork we used for the collection, was an outdoor mural at the Basel Kunsthalle. What is your opinion on public art installations compared to installations in galleries and museums? Do you think that a public context provides more of an opportunity to experience the artwork?

That’s not a question I really ask myself. Opportunities are mainly for the audience. What we as artists need, even more the artworks; is time spent looking at them. The work in Basel was up for almost a year so people passed by it more then once and I like the idea that the artwork becomes part of its surroundings. But it’s ok if people don’t care. I’d be happy if there are less people at the MOMA the next time I visit.

You recently opened a two person show with Sam Porritt at Frutta gallery in Roma. Can you tell us a few words about the exhibition and the process to put it together?

Sam and I have a very good friendship and I feel like we have some common ways of looking at art and specially of how to make art. We both love drawings and probably both consider it a crucial part of an artist’s practice. We wanted to do a show together for a while and finally James Gardner invited us to do it. We worked on it for almost a year. It changed direction quite a lot - both of us abandoned whole series of finished work - in the end we are very happy how it came together. We talked about it on a regular basis, that process helped for sure.

You mentioned you curated a show at your parents apartment during Art Basel. What was that like?

Space is the Place 2016, it was great. I did it the fourth time this year and every time it’s different, every year I invite someone to organize with me but this year I didn’t which resulted in a group show with the artists: Jiajia Zhang, Michael Bodenmann, Ruth Proctor, Felix Jungo, Barbara Signer, Benedikt Stäubli and a solo show with the painter Matthias Huber in the same space. It’s always stressful as it is not my apartment and we leave a lot of my parents own artwork and furniture and stuff in but so far nothing ever gone missing, luckily. But it’s at the end of the Art Basel week so everybody is exhausted already which always results in a very mellow and nice atmosphere.

You were born in the 80s. Is there any core memories or elements from your teenage years that are still important to your life and artistic practice now?

Probably the first time I saw my neighbour and his friends do a graffiti was a key moment. I spent hour over hour drawing styles in my bedroom. I had a rather active time spraying for some years but in the end the drawing on paper is key to me now - I still do it on paper a lot. My whole art practice is based on the idea of the sketch. As a kid and until this day I am usually more compelled by a sketch than a so called finished drawing/painting. What I do is to try to find ways to keep the energy and rawness of a sketch in a final image or work without losing it’s soul.

One of the defining themes for our Ninth collection was the techno and rave scene from the 1990s. Were you into this kind of music?

No I wasn’t. I was involved in the so called Hip Hop scene in Basel and naturally Techno wasn’t well regarded there. Minds weren’t as open as today. And when I was older the good spots for Techno in Basel were gone.

Top 5 records?

Everything from Bach and De la Soul, Alte Schule (Sampler), The Knife, Deep Cuts and Koudlam, Goodbye

Now, you live and work in Zurich. Does it bring anything special or influential to your practice?

It’s good to focus here and that’s what I am trying to do anyway in my work right now - focus on putting in the time to work on new stuff. I am a studio artist so my work is probably more influenced by the news I consume through my laptop then through my physical environment. I love the energy of a big city though which I miss here but on the other hand I am at 5 different spots to swim within 15 minutes of my home including a river and a lake.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?

I am working on my first solo shows in the United States. One will be in a fantastic space in Philadelphia called LORD LUDD run by Mylinh Trieu Nguyen and Gideon Barnett the other at the lovely ESTE in Bushwick, NY run by Spanish artist Victor Esther.

Conversation with Fabio Marco Pirovino, Zurich, August 2016. Photography by Stéphanie Gygax