'We are all fighting for something'
As a student in Italy, I made a documentary about this artist - Pino Pascali. He was influential in Arte Povera, but worked as an illustrator for advertising before getting recognition. At the time he made this - he was around 29 years old - you can see that graphic quality. He died too young - at just 32, in a motorbike crash.
When you first look at this, you can’t tell if it’s a person or just an empty suit of armour. The visor is open, but underneath there is more metal. For me, there has be some illusionism in painting - using paint to resemble something else. Pascali here uses mental to depict metal. But there’s an element of touch too - you can see where he has drawn over the surface in the enamel.
When I started my new series of paintings, I was thinking first of all about having a solo presentation, the idea of ego. I did one painting that is kind of a self-portrait of a trumpet player. There’s metal in that too - the instrument is a kind of armour. And big round cheeks: full of hot air. I’ve been looking at history - art history, Dix and the like - but also stories like Salome. By the end of the series, I made this painting of myself in a suit of armour. Hiding, really: I was exhausted, I didn’t want to be display. When it came to hanging the stand, I couldn’t find a way to make it work with the rest of the series - so me and my gallery decided to keep it in the cupboard. Which is quite appropriate.
To see this work is to think about coming full circle - from my first work about Pascali, to my latest now resembling this work of his, which he made as a young man.
I said that you can’t really tell if this a suit or there’s someone in it. The title solves that a little. I think artists are kind of warriors. We are all fighting for something.