Hailing from Milan, the Italian capital of design, Alessandro Paglia has always been fascinated by the sheer elegant simplicity of colour combinations, whether it be in the fine arts, design, fashion, film or photography. With an education and background in product design and over 10 years of experience, he is also intrigued by aesthetics, textures and materials, and his high-impact artworks represent a stunning fusion of these two passions.
Paglia uses his work to explore the life of an object, its story, its personality, the ingenuity of its creator, and what he calls its hidden world. Many of his chosen subjects are iconic pieces in terms of design history or popular culture, but his latest collection includes characters from the world of cartoons presented in a whole new way. For his dazzling ‘Midas Touch’ quartet, he has created a unique printing method, using a hand embossing technique with gold leaf finish to create a series of striking editions. Due to the handmade nature of each piece there are slight differences to every character, making each edition highly collectable.
With his originals, Paglia works in pen and favours rich, vivid tones and vibrant textures. Composing entirely by hand, he utilises intense inky blacks to amplify the interplay between the natural light and his chosen subject. The rough grain of cotton paper further accentuates this effect as he builds layer after layer of colour to achieve a nuanced perfection. Each piece takes at least 50 hours and sometimes up to 250, but the finished effect is remarkable – a unique and innovative visual statement of genuine power.
In order to convey the personality of the objects he portrays, Paglia has taken an unusual approach; rather than experimenting with tools, materials or style he experiments with the objects themselves. He begins by creating an ‘intervention’ in an object’s story. This could involve freezing, sewing, crushing or submerging it, or even blowing it up; sometimes his intervention is as straightforward as folding, a pleasingly simple process which nevertheless completely changes the appearance and function of an object whilst retaining its true nature. He then shoots dozens of photographs to find that elusive perfect image in terms of composition and contrast of light and shadow as the basis for his drawing.
These are things which we are familiar with and able to relate to and would naturally entwine with our own personal experience and memories, especially with the photorealistic nature of the images. But Paglia subverts our expectations and we find reality tilting on its axis, and what we thought we knew now seems to have a completely different meaning. His aim is to create images of aesthetically and symbolically intriguing objects with a twist, innately themselves but with a completely transformed appearance. “I want to get a surprise” he says. “I want to shift the object’s story.”