The painting of Stefano Pizzi

Interview with Painter Stefano Pizzi, who leads the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in a deputy headmaster and is now on its Board of Directors, besides teaching painting and taking care of the Academy’s public relations and communication.

Born in the 1950s, he was educated as an artist and intellectual in Milan, at Palazzo Braidense where, in the ‘70s, he attended first an artistic high school and then the painting school of the Brera Academy. His formative years coincided with the social turmoil of those decades, which deeply influenced the direction of his research, steering it towards social engagement. In the studio, this aesthetic choice tends to set up a confrontation between painting and its support, which, technically, leads to a dialogue between the painted artwork and the materials used. Such dialogue between subject and context, between signified and signifier, has marked his whole experience in the art system, which he has always criticized and even opposed.

Has contemporary art been able to stand together at the time of Covid-19?
In the world of art, since the beginning of the lockdown that the current pandemic caused, we have witnessed two separate courses of action, both tending to solidarity and participation; one mostly involving institutions or associations, like the National Academy of San Luca, the Brera Academy, the Permanent Society, the National Gallery of Modern Art, the Nori de Nobili Museum, or the online magazines Academy-Of and Ri-Contemporaneo; and one mainly linked to the market, coordinated by privates or network galleries. In this respect, we can reiterate the same considerations that have been made since the 1850s, which see the opposition of the concepts of “Art for Art’s sake” and “Art of Reality”, meaning a self-referential artistic expression, free from any ideal, religious, or moral compromise, and another one, which mainly deals with reality and social history.

How have mindsets and productions evolved at this unfortunate time?
Despite this condition of suspended time, paired with a laziness that I am not usually familiar with, besides painting, I have mostly kept myself busy with the management and communication of the Brera Academy, as well as with E-learning for my students. Together, among other projects, we have set up an online exhibition that has met great success, both nationally and internationally. I made donations in response to all charity invitations I received, thus contributing to good causes; I wrote essays and introductions to exhibitions; I gave some interviews; I planned new initiatives; and I participated in a couple of contests with a designer friend of mine. My reflections have unfortunately often been paired with a sense of bitterness, going from the crisis that our cultural system is currently experiencing to the political, moral, and economic crisis that has been haunting us for years, as well as the uncertainty of not being able to complete my projects, both personal and professional, because of my age. Lately, I have been re-reading a couple of volumes on intellectual history, and as I finish every chapter, I wonder why philosophy is not a compulsory subject in all secondary schools, at least as a broad outline. Which is obviously a silly question, since music has already been struck off the curriculum, and sometimes, history of art is at risk too. But this is how things go in Italy. The most beautiful country in the world, which holds the most cultural heritage, and yet does nothing for its artists…

What about your future projects?
Looking at the distant future, I am about to complete a series of works on cherubs; I have set up an exhibition curated by Carlo Franza; and rearranged several writings and works on paper meant to be the body of a new artist book with my friend, publisher Giampaolo Prearo. As to my academic duties, my priority is now to organize the online exhibition Accademia Aperta, dedicated to Visual Arts students, in collaboration with Banca Equita.

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