The trail of my art is my personal map of the city
Alice Pasquini in her own right is the queen of street art. Her prolific career has had the pleasure of being a sight for sore eyes via her fans and on the street. Her pieces are often brightly coloured with numerous layers and depth to each piece. Colours are predominant and often are layered over one another to create a beautifully eclectic style which always turns heads. We caught up with Alice.
Q. How long have you been painting?
From what my mom tells me I’d already decided I wanted to be an artist at 3 years old. In my brain as a kid, it was a job like any other. Then when I was 13 I decided to enroll into an arts high school and at that point my parents accepted my bizarre choice of vocation.
Q. How and when did you start?
When I was around 14 I came into contact with Hip Hop and comic culture, which was a huge push. At this time I was studying painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome, and after this I decided to leave firstly to live in England and then Spain. When I was there I studied animation and art criticism and worked as a set designer and illustrator.
Q. What made you pursue street art?
When I came back to Rome after Spain I published my first graphic novel and after spending a year in front of the computer doing that I realized that I needed something else. My need to push myself beyond commissioned work for clients and being in my studio brought me to start painting in the street.
At the Academy they told me “Art died with Duchamp, forget about drawing. But then I found myself working in a closed environment that didn’t communicate with the world around us. When I started doing set design in Spain, working on spaces for children, I saw real people using the space, living with my art and in that moment I started realizing what I really wanted to do. In reality it’s the stuff in galleries, in the academic classrooms, which are dead and buried.
Q. Where does your name come from?
I decided to sign my real name in the same way I decided to paint during the day and not hide my face. I consider what I do to be closer to art than vandalism and I find it stupid that society spends so much time and energy combating street art. I take my own risk, that’s part of the game and part of the current “revolution.”
Q. What art do you make today (murals, sketches, canvases, etc.) and with what materials?
I use different materials depending on the support and the background. For big walls I use acrylic and spray paint, working freehand. For smaller pieces in city centres I use small stencils and in the studio I paint on wood with acrylics and enamels. In any case my ideas are always born from a ballpoint pen and my sketchbook.
Q. What do you paint and why?
I’m interested in representing human feelings and the relationships between people, using different points of view. I’ve always been fascinated by images that are full of atmosphere and give you a sense of déjà vu. Painting illegal is what gives me the most satisfaction: the adrenaline, the 15 minute countdown to do something decent – to have your eyes on the lookout, to test what you can do spontaneously. It’s stimulating for me to push myself. Sometimes it’s almost more important going through the creative process then what is created itself.
Q. What type of spots?
The post is what inspires me in that moment when I’m just wandering around a city I don’t know. What usually hits me is the color of the wall or natural frames I can use to integrate the work into the context. I ask myself if in there’s a church or a school nearby, for instance. If you’re an artist who works outside you can’t help but have a problem: you go someplace that isn’t your own, where you don’t live, and where you may not even return. What you do has to be important artistically, it can also be important politically, but it’s not a given that it will be positive for the people who have to live with it every day.
Q. Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m interested in dynamic images of life that are universal and timeless; the concept shouldn’t change over time: it was the same 50 years ago and it will be the same 50 years from now. I depict everyday moments, moments that for me represent the magic of life. I really think that the real key to life is the way we choose to live every single moment. For example, a chance encounter with a piece of street art can turn into an intimate and surprising experience for the passerby.
Q. How did your style develop over time?
In the street my creativity is influenced by a lot of things: the light and color of the environment (another reason that I paint during the day), the people who pass by and their reaction, the vulnerable surface of the work, and the absolute spontaneity of the mark left (due to the rapid nature of the work). This type of artistic research has brought me toward a style that is increasingly spontaneous and instinctive.
Q. How do you describe your style?
I think that the artistic value of a piece of street art is mainly in the magic moment of creation when the passerby (and not the spectator) randomly finds themselves in front of something that is there, in that moment, just for them. In this sense my intention isn’t to be a communicator. I would say the opposite actually. A communicator knows exactly what message they want to give and finds the best way to transmit that. An artist has a need to communicate but they don’t necessarily know the reason, so often the communication between artist and spectator (in our case a passerby) is on a different level and open to many interpretations. I’m interested in human feelings, in the discovery of that subtle line that divides reality from dreams, in the conviction that to change reality you need to use imagination
Q. What is the scene like generally in Italy?
In Italy there are a lot of valid and active artists. There is however, one name above all the rest: Blu.
Q. Have you worked with artists in collaborations? If so, which artists?
Usually I work on my own but when the opportunity presents itself I live to collaborate. Exchanging ideas is something truly inspiring. In the past I painted and traveled with C215. Recently I’ve collaborated with Brus and Max Ripo.
Q. How do you feel about doing gallery work?
Street art can’t exist indoors. However, an artist can easily move from one mode to another if they have a personal artistic language. However galleries are used to create a different experience, like creating something that wouldn’t be possible in the street.
Q. Where else have you painted and how do these places compare to Italy?
I’ve painted in a lot of cities, from Oslo to Marrakesh from Sydney to Moscow. In the street I often find myself in exhilarating situations and I’ve had a lot of incredible experiences with the police or everyday people and their reactions change according to the local culture. Even the police are different from place to place. But in front of something that is beautiful, there are no cultural barriers – the reaction is always positive.
Q. Where is your favourite location to paint, and why?
I think every city hasn’t its own peculiarities. I prefer painting in the south, where it’s hot and people stop to talk. Painting there is almost a collective moment. But my favourite place is always that which I encounter on my urban journey – it’s a way to pass through a city (like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs). It doesn’t matter if it’s in the centre or on the periphery. The trail of my art is my personal map of the city.
Q. Do you have a favourite artwork that you have done in the past?
There are some pieces I’m attached to because they remind me of a particular moment in my life. Technically speaking, I wouldn’t know what to say. I hope I’m never completely satisfied, if you are satisfied, it’s over…
Q. What piece of advice do you have for up and coming artists?
Use your head!
Q. What are you planning for the future (exhibitions, projects, etc.)?
I’m travelling throughout South East Asia in October and am working on a book project.
A big thank you to Alice Pasquini for taking the time to speak to us about her work, really appreciate it!
If you’d like to find out more about Alice’s works please see: