They are now famous, a constant, a distinctive sign as well as an authentic signature. They are Pao’s (Paolo Bordino) penguins, the protagonists of the “Penguin Heroes” exhibition, from June 13 to July 9 at st art. Art for all, the new artistic project conceived and promoted by Mondadori Store and curated by Angelo Crespi at the Mondadori Megastore in Piazza Duomo. Penguins that are cheerful, simple and full of life, who inevitably provoke a smile and have already “invaded” Italy: in Bologna, Turin, Milan and many other cities.
Born in Milan in 1977, Pao’s first “gym” was the theatre where he trained as a machine operator, sound engineer and stage technician with the company of Franca Rame and Dario Fo. After studying and working at the Teatro alla Scala workshops in Milan, from around 2000, he ventured into street art, which he has never left: urban artwork, created out of curiosity, became more and more frequent, and led to the famous “Panettoni” (road blockers) in the form of penguins, aliens and characters from popular culture, from Star Wars’ R2D2 to the superhero Iron Man.
“In 2000 I was just drawing cartoons for my personal pleasure, then one day I saw a coloured kerbstone. It was a light bulb moment and made me think that it could become one of my characters. From the preparatory drawings, a penguin emerged that said, “draw me”. That was how I started drawing a whole population on the street. In fact a friend of mine said that my name, Pao, stands for Pinguini ad Oltranza (Penguins forever). Since then penguins have become my trademark, almost a totemic animal,” the artist recalls.
2005 saw the creation of the Paopao Studio, the creative and operational base of Pao and Laura, a graphic designer who, with Pao, created and developed graphics and communication projects. Various ventures with big companies led to Pao expanding production and to look for new media, which led to experimentations with materials, prospective research, visual distortions and a study of curved geometry that resulted in the development of his art on canvas and three-dimensional fiberglass. His works do not just form part of the urban context, but become an integral part of the urban environment, and also of mass society, which is reflected in some of his works. To date, Pao’s work has been exhibited at various art exhibitions, including the Milan Contemporary Art Pavilion, the Triennale of Milan and the Venice Biennale.
That Pao’s art is for everyone is also reflected in his words: “My sources of inspiration are varied, ranging from pop art to comics, as well as video games and cartoons. Using elements that are familiar to everyone to express concepts is a good way of creating art that people can understand. Today, Homer Simpson is more famous than the President of the United States, and superheroes are the new saints. So it’s normal to use this new iconography.”
Pao’s “penguin heroes” exhibition is the first of the new cycle of st art for all. It will be followed by “stencil mood story” by Mr Savethewall (from 11 July to 10 September), Giacom’s “contemporary comics mix” (from 12 September to 8 October) and “pop up flowers” by Cardeña (from 10 October to 12 November). The first four artists are among the best examples of street or pop art, starting from Pao, one of the most recognisable, having worked in both the urban context and the broader world of communications. His show will be followed by exhibitions of Mr Savethewall, Massimo Giacon, by Felipe Cardeña, each of whom represents in a personal way the contemporary art in this genre.
All of the exhibitions feature original work and the creation of copies and gadgets available to the public at affordable prices. In addition, installations and performances will also feature, making the exhibition space a moment of entertainment and communication.
“UNDERSTANDING CONTEMPORARY ART”
In June a cycle of conferences will begin with the “Understading Contemporay Art”, in which artists, curators and authors will have a chance to discuss, with book and catalogue presentations, the much discussed issue of how to approach contemporary art, alos in its more eccentric and surprising manifestations.
Initially conceived for the two Mondadori Megastores in Milan (Duomo and Marghera), the “st art”, project wants to involve the entire Mondadori Retail area, which now has some 600 outlets across Italy, as well as though online communication and e-commerce, points of excellence for the Group, by creating an new short circuit between books and pop art, physical and online exhibitions, original work and multiple copies, digital and traditional communication, to encourage and stimulate the dissemination and contamination of art and the public.
st art is an artistic project curated by Angelo Crespi, and has been made possible by the invaluable contribution of Sergio Pappalettera, visual artist and expert in marketing and communication strategies. st art is produced in partnership with Deodato Arte.
st art. Art for all
Mondadori Megastore, Piazza Duomo Milan
Open: 9 am – 11 pm | Entrance: Free
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