Stefano Monfeli aka PANE is an Italian artist, living and working in Amsterdam. We are longtime fans of Panes work and happy to welcome him to #gassarmy. We catch up with our favourite Italian ahead of our collaboration with him and our Midnight Chardonnay Festival.
GASS: You are from Rome ( Italy ) but you are living and working in Amsterdam for many years at this stage.
How would you compare these two countries from an artists point of view and how does the Dutch culture inspire your work?
Pane: Dutch culture is much dryer than the Italian, and I do not feel it has inspired me much; here things work much better, everything looks clean and fancy.
Rome is chaotic and dirty and has much more to give in terms of inspiration and this aspect is still the fuel that feeds me.
GASS: What do you think about Italy and its cultural situation right now? In the last 10 years, a lot of young and creative people have left this beautiful country and are now living in places like London, Paris and Amsterdam, for example. How does it feel for you to come back? Do you feel like new generation can put Italy back on the contemporary art map?
Pane: It feels like Italy's rotten to the bone. there are sparks here and there, definitely there’s energy and creative people, what's missing is the audience for this creativity, and this will lead people to drift away (in all kinds of ways, not only physically) more and more.
GASS: Can we talk more about your work? You are doing quite a few things from illustration to sculpture to installation. How does that work for you, do you focus on one thing at a time or do you work in seasons, like a fashion designer? ….or do you do a hundred things at the same time ? Please elaborate on your work process.
Pane: My way of working is chaotic, (like the situation in Rome), I just try to move the waters and to do so I have to create a mess and hopefully from it something will grow. Let's say that each thing I do has something to offer me and triggers different chords inside me, I like to experience that, and I do not really believe in specialization.
GASS: Your previous work has a lot of sexual elements: sexy Japanese girls, manga and dildo sculptures and toys. At the same time, you drew one boy who has quite an angry face, sometimes a skull face and sometimes quite violent expressions on faces. Then, of course, there is pizza. Is there any connection between the topics and themes you work with in art? Sex, Bad Boys and Pizza as a lifestyle :)?
Pane: I have a fascination for manga and all that is Japanese, they are sometimes so explicit sick and direct, so they represent a reference which I try to use in my work along with other pop elements, but I would not try to make a connection between them, it is simply stuff that I like and pops out in my drawings.
GASS: You have released and contributed to a few books from your own book to collaborative zines all throughout your career. You probably noticed that books are coming back "in fashion", there are a lot of independent publishers who are printing beautiful art books and young generation are actually buying them. What do you think of the print revival? How important it is for you and do you plan to release more stuff?
Pane: Books are an opportunity for me to regain lost time; a way to go vertical instead of horizontal, a way to engage in quality instead of quantity, Compared to electronic books, paper does not offers any other distraction; one object one subject,
Each one has a unique flavor due to it's content and aspect, physical books stand there as a reminder of what you have read, each representing a room, a place where you can enter. Physical books get old, can be passed along and get richer with each reader reading it and ultimately will die, this just makes the object something holy.
I would like to make a graphic novel, but it is just an idea at the moment.
GASS: You just had an exhibition at the Macro Via Nizza, can you tell us more about it?
Pane: It was a retrospective about the work I did together with the Why Style collective between 1998 and 2005, which represents one of the first italian groups dealing with post graffiti art. This work was included in the exhibition called Cross The Streets which presented the work of well established street artists.
Along with the work of the Why Style collective I've made an installation titled Fences, which presented a series of metal gates with colorful clothes embedded in it.
GASS: What are you working on right now and what is the next thing for you?
Pane: Next important thing should be my first personal show, planned to happen in Rome sometime nest spring. In any case I'm doing paintings on canvas and what I call wooden biscuits, which are shapes build in wood and then painted.