The Woodstock’s Boy
November 9 – December 21, 2019
Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to present The Woodstock’s Boy, Alessandro Pessoli’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Italian-born and Los Angeles-based, Pessoli is best-known for his surreal landscapes often inhabited by fragmented human forms. Utilizing a plethora of media, from brushwork and stencils to terracotta, Pessoli imbues his canvases and sculptures with a wealth of imagery, all connected by an emotional intensity conjured through a process of layering and erasure.
The Woodstock’s Boy consists of new paintings and a monumental terracotta sculpture connected by the narrative of a hero – an archetype for the artist, who faces the threat of symbolic death in search of a more creatively pure and wholly instinctive reality. The title also references a countercultural generation—a generation defined by the Vietnam War and the Peace and Love movement, in which music, art and drugs were used as instruments for visualizing a better world. While only six-years-old at the time of the Woodstock festival, Pessoli sees himself in a world that desperately needs to grasp for freedom and utopia amidst a largely corrupt and violent reality.
Pessoli’s new body of work is ultimately celebratory. The Woodstock boy is a character who initially is tormented by the state of a real and metaphysical world yet ultimately finds a beautiful reality. Male and female figures exist in a hallucinogenic reality. Often playful, guns and other weapons transform into unashamed sexual metaphors alongside fruit, a symbol of life, nature, nourishment—something both essential and elementary. With a nod to a child-like vision, Pessoli’s universe is doused in opulent color and iconography of popsicles, rainbows and butterflies. Incorporating this childlike imagery allows Pessoli to reconnect with a pure and instinctual mode of artmaking. The obscure is juxtaposed with an enlightened and primal positivism.
The Woodstock’s Boy portrays a heroic journey from the threats of a complex and dangerous time to a more free and beautiful alternative reality. It’s a story of fall and regrowth. Perhaps beginning with Shack Up, a nude male figure that leans forward in a pensive form, arm swooped overhead, with fruit, a single rose and multi-colored popsicles at his back – an image evoking Adam’s expulsion from Eden – and ending with Bethel Girl in which the rebellious boy grows into a giant and finds acceptance and hope in an Eve-like female hero who has reconciled and lives fearlessly with her guardian monsters. Each work in The Woodstock’s Boy is its own chapter of an epic story and an opportunity for the viewer to fantasize about the story’s structure and details.
In 2009, Pessoli moved from Italy, a country steeped in history and tradition, to Los Angeles, a city of the new. Pessoli’s work is rich in art historical and biblical references, but also allusions to contemporary culture. With this in mind, Pessoli fuses the classical with a contemporary impulse, the familiar with the strange. With a newfound freedom, virtuosity with materials and respect for the past, Pessoli masterfully combines the etherealness of Henri Matisse and the Fauves with the rich moodiness of Francisco Goya. Furthermore, Pessoli’s work captures the pictorial heroism of 1960s Georg Baselitz and the Pop sensibility of R.B. Kitaj and Andy Warhol.
Alessandro Pessoli (b. 1963, Cervia, Italy) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. Pessoli has been exhibited at institutions worldwide, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome, The Drawing Center, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. His work was also included in the 53rd Biennale di Venezia at the Palazzo Grassi, Venice.