Rome Travel Guide

Rome Architecture, History, Art, Museums, Galleries, Fashion, Music, Photos, Walking and Hiking Itineraries, Neighborhoods, News and Social Commentary, Politics, Things to Do in Rome and Environs. Over 900 posts

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rome's Alice Pasquini: Street Art Feminism, and Beyond

Closed newspaper kiosk, Piazza Mancini, Flaminio 
It's not easy to find information about Rome-based street artist Alice Pasquini.  What's available on the internet seems to come mostly from her website--valuable in its way, but limited and perhaps misleading.  Featured prominently on that website are the words "a visual artist who works as an illustrator, set designer and painter," but one searches in vain for evidence of her work as a set designer, and it's not clear where she's worked as an illustrator--unless she's referring here to her smaller works of street art.  She's essentially a painter, sometimes a stenciller.  Although her website, and other accounts derived from it, give her name as Alice and AliCè, her work is commonly signed Alice (pronounced Ah-lee-chay in Italian; hence the AliCè may be more representative, although in Italian the accent is on the second syllable).

Portrait of Alice by C215
What is clear is that she's prolific.  At age 35 (born 1980--even that was hard to find), she's worked as a street artist in dozens of major cities, including London, Sydney, New York, Barcelona, Saigon and, of course, Rome.

Pasquini grew up in Rome Prati quartiere, immersed in the '90s hip-hop scene, where she discovered SprayLiz--a comic book heroine whose specialty was political graffiti. Inspired, she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, took some coursework in animation in Madrid (where she earned an MA in Critical Arts Studies at the Universidad Computense), and lived for a year in London. Somewhere along the way--there's a certain vagueness in her own reports--"I specialized in old style animation and worked as an illustrator and set designer."

Having been warned that painting was dead, she became a painter.  "'Art died with Duchamp, forget about drawing'--that's what my professors taught me and that's why I wanted to  get out of the studio and the academy."

She likes painting illegally.  "The adrenalin," she notes, "the 15 minute countdown to do something decent--to have your eyes on the lookout, to test what you can do spontaneously." Some of the smaller pieces she's done in Rome probably are in the "illegal" category, for she likes to paint on public objects--trash bins, electrical boxes, for example--that "could need a little love."

A small portion of Alice's work at a bar/kiosk in
Piazza Mancini, Flaminio

That said, in a current climate in which the best street art is recognized, encouraged and, in a certain way, contained, Pasquini has found accommodation with the "academy."  In Rome, her work has been exhibited at MACRO (2014), the American Embassy (2013), the Casa dell'Architettura (2013, a sensational one-woman show), and most recently at the Temple University gallery on the Tevere (2015).  In addition, it seems obvious that much of the Flaminio work--on kiosk businesses--was accomplished with permission.

Army barracks, site of 2015 Outdoor Festival, opening Oct. 2
With 15 other artists, Pasquini will participate in the 2015 edition of the Outdoor Festival, mounted this year at via Guido Reni 7, a former army barracks (ex-caserma) near the MAXXI gallery in Flaminio.  The show opens October 2.

One needn't depend on galleries to see Pasquini's work.  There's plenty of it on Rome's walls and other surfaces--especially in Flaminio, where she lived for a time with fellow street artist C215 (an influence on her work), Quadraro, and San Lorenzo, where a major mural lines via dei Sabelli.

Pasquini's street art celebrates "strong, independent women" (her words), contemplative, confident, sensuous, emotional, and usually joyful young women, meeting the world and engaging life in a physical way, whether leaping in exultation, riding a motorscooter (above), running, or relaxing in the confidence of one's body (see the painting at the top of this post). A website describes her art as "affectionate."

The via dei Sabelli mural (above and below) in San Lorenzo has a dark, threatening quality--one is tempted to say post-apocalyptic.

The elaborate work carried out in the basement of the Casa dell'Architettura, titled "Cave of Tales" (translated into English) also has that dark, foreboding quality, here suggesting that young women in the big city face a potentially difficult and threatening future.
The challenges of the big city, rendered in something
like German expressionist style

Alice at work
Alice plans with a ballpoint pen and sketchbook.  Studio work is accomplished with acrylics and enamels on wood, smaller city pieces with stencils, larger wall paintings with acrylics and spray paints.  Her work doesn't strike us as unusually innovative, especially given the enormous creativity and inventiveness of the current generation of street artists.  She's a painter, working--again, for a street artist--in a surprisingly traditional style and with a feminist message that's both welcome and rather well-traveled.

As you walk the city and come across the art of Alice Pasquini, consider, too, her words describing the dilemma of the street artist:

Moscow, 2014
"An artist who works outside, you always have one problem: you work someplace which isn't your own, where you don't live and to which you may not ever return.  What you do should be artistically or politically important.  But it is not a given that it will be positive for the people who have to live with it every day. This is a risk I take with my form of art."


Alice decorates a small trailer, courtyard of the Lanificio, a factory artspace, via di Pietralata, 59 (2013) . Dianne at right 

No comments: