Italian-born and Los Angeles-based, Pessoli is best-known for his surreal landscapes inhabited by fragmented, often mutilated 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 Boy comprises of new paintings and a monumental terracotta sculpture all connected by a narrative structure of a hero, an archetype for the artist, who faces a symbolic death in search of a more creatively pure and wholly instinctive reality. The title also references a countercultural generation—a generation plagued by the Vietnam War, Stonewall Riots and Manson Murders, but also where music, art and drugs were used as an instrument to visualize a better world. While only six-years-old at the time of the Woodstock festival, Pessoli sees in himself and the world around him a desperate and perhaps, naïve grasp for freedom and utopia amidst a corrupt and violent reality.
In Pessoli’s new body of work, a sense of unease mingles with a hint of the celebratory. The Woodstock boy is a character in his own tormented, yet beautiful reality. Guns and other weapons threaten male and female figures that metamorphose through space, acting as both sexual metaphors and elements of struggle. With a nod to the absurd, Pessoli’s universe is also doused in opulent color and iconography of popsicles, rainbows and butterflies created by his own children. Incorporating this childlike imagery allows Pessoli to reconnect with a pure and instinctual mode of artmaking. Pessoli’s world is a hallucinogenic one, and in these paintings, the obscure and incertitude of daily life are juxtaposed with a primitive positivism.
Pessoli’s work is also rich in art historical and very palpable biblical references, but also chockfull of allusions to contemporary culture. In Shack Up, a nude male figure leans dejectedly, arm swooped overhead, with fruit (a metaphor for nature and nourishment), a single rose and multi-colored popsicles at his back – an image evoking that of Adam’s expulsion from Eden. In Scarecrow in Daddy Field, the figure hangs limply with outstretched limbs covered in childlike imagery as if crucified by his own naiveté, but is also Pessoli’s contemporary overture to the Vitruvian Man. All these scenes play out in theatrical places with a wealth of imagery and expressivity.
In 2009, Pessoli moved from Italy, a country steeped in history and tradition, to Los Angeles, a city of the new. With this in mind, Pessoli fuses the classical with a contemporary impulse, the familiar with the strange. With a new found 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 through 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 53 rd Biennale di Venezia at the Palazzo Grassi, Venice.