A life in color

In­ter­view with Gae­tano Pesce: the unconventional cre­ativ­ity of an ex­plo­rative artist. Rep­e­ti­tion is his en­emy, re­flec­tion his goal.

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To box Gae­tano Pesce in­side a pro­fes­sional la­bel is be­lit­tling, be­cause his art is ex­plo­rative, not made to be syn­thet­i­cally bound. Pesce is a tran­scen­dent artist, sculp­tor, de­signer, ar­chi­tect, a man who spear­heads ideas and an in­no­va­tor on a con­tin­ual quest for ma­te­ri­als. For over 40 years he has been in­ject­ing imag­i­na­tion into ob­jects and struc­tures of all kinds: glasses, vases, so­fas, chairs, jew­elry, sculp­tures, tables, plates, lamps, shelves, as well as houses and build­ings.

Ev­ery ob­ject, small or large, faces a theme and em­braces mean­ings that go be­yond sim­ple form: his ul­ti­mate goal is to cre­ate art, yes, but also thoughts that leave room for freed re­flec­tion and goes be­yond any lim­its.

The art of Gae­tano Pesce goes be­yond con­ven­tion and in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion, so much so that it re­fuses the rep­e­ti­tion of the work it­self, mak­ing each piece unique. When the Up 5 chair was pre­sented at the Salone del Mo­bile in Mi­lan, he clearly demon­strated his phi­los­o­phy: chal­leng­ing con­sol­i­da­tion and giv­ing art a much-de­served so­cial role, the arm­chair has a fem­i­nine shape. Yet for a footrest, a ball was added. The de­sign is a clear cry against the con­tin­ued sub­mis­sion and dis­crim­i­na­tion women still face in many parts of the world. Pesce has lived in New York since 1983 and re­sponded to our ques­tions from his adopted home. The dis­tance, how­ever, has never di­luted his deep af­fec­tion for his birth coun­try.

In Man­tua’s splen­did Gon­zaga Du­cal Palace Mu­seum, an ex­hi­bi­tion en­ti­tled “Ar­chitet­tura e Fig­u­razione” (Ar­chi­tec­ture and Fig­ure) is un­der­way. An ex­hi­bi­tion that self-ad­mit­tedly seeks to com­mu­ni­cate with a non-spe­cial­ist au­di­ence. Shouldn’t this be the rule for any artis­tic in­spi­ra­tion?

It might be, but it is not. Many peo­ple, from politi­cians to the artists, com­pli­cate dis­cus­sions and hide the lack of ideas be­hind this fog.

There are no bound­aries be­tween art, de­sign and in­dus­try. Art is our cre­ative re­sponse to the needs of the time in which we live.

Color has al­ways been an im­por­tant ex­ploratory el­e­ment for you: com­ple­men­tary or an­ti­thet­i­cal to the ex­pres­sion of form?

Color is sim­ply the pres­ence of en­ergy and light. Vene­tian art is an ex­am­ple. It is true that many ar­chi­tects dress in black and so are many peo­ple in the art world. This trend rep­re­sent noth­ing more than the lack of cre­ativ­ity. Color trans­mits joy, en­thu­si­asm, op­ti­mism, and, as I have said, en­ergy and good­ness in our lives!

You sup­port the po­etry of ir­reg­u­lar­ity and chance, of im­per­fec­tion as an added value. How much is this con­cept shared by so­ci­ety?

I do not know what so­ci­ety thinks. The hap­haz­ard events of ev­ery­day life in­flu­ence my work. As you know, val­ues in­crease and de­crease, dis­ap­pear, and reap­pear, so there can be no set or­der.

Do you think that cre­ativ­ity is also some­how a vic­tim of mar­ket­ing?

In some cases yes, in oth­ers, no. For ex­am­ple, I doubt whether it’s cre­ativ­ity but some­thing more like rep­e­ti­tion. Cre­ativ­ity is ground­break­ing and does not tol­er­ate mar­ket­ing bar­ri­ers. His­tory shows that cre­ativ­ity can avoid com­pro­mises.

De­sign seems to be tak­ing an ever-more min­i­mal­ist ap­proach. But is “Less is more” re­ally a com­pli­ment?

It is not a com­pli­ment at all, it is boredom. Min­i­mal­ism is a dy­ing ex­pres­sion that any­one with­out ideas uses ad-nau­seam.

Which de­sign ob­ject are you most at­tached to?

In gen­eral, the elec­tric light bulb, be­cause it has opened im­mense paths to hu­man progress. If you want to re­fer to one of my ob­jects, I think the UP5&6 chair is the one that gave me the most sat­is­fac­tion.

Or­ganic Build­ing, Osaka

Maestà tra­dita, Firenze

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