“By sounding a little like everything you’ve ever heard, the whole sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard”. In 2012, the Guardian wrote this lines to advice us about the talent of then-newcomer Grimes. The rest is history.
We could use these same words to introduce you Alberto Panegos’ unique work, which shares with the Canadian pop star a taste for daring juxtaposition and critical messages hidden behind a sort of “cartoonish” façade.
The way in which Alberto combines porn and cartoons, pop and black metal, consumerism gods and underground cults reveals in an original way the grotesque carousel of the contradictions of our era, offering a sardonic, yet colorful portrait in which no side of society, entertainment, ideals and ideology, culture and counter-culture seems to be stainless.
Alberto’s birthplace offers, after all, a fertile hummus for this kind of vision. Until the second postwar, North- Eastern Italy was a foggy land of uncultivated people owning cultivated fields and then, suddenly, it became the foggy land of uncultivated people owning big cars that nowadays, despite the crisis, still is. But sometimes even contradictions, deceptions and bigotries can be blessings in disguise.
In fact, such scenario has always been an ideal nursery for a lively punk, hardcore and metal scene, that from the Great Complotto collective to today’s Ghost.City brought and still brings to life a number of interesting artists.
Hardcore is, in particular, one of the many sources of Alberto’s inspiration.
“I’ve been part of the punk hardcore – metal scene since 1997, and you can easily find references to that in my drawings. But a complete list of my sources of inspiration would be very, very long: soviet match boxes, underground American comics, concert flyers, the new school of North European illustrators; then tattoos, Japanese artists such as Toshio Saeki or Shizeru Mizuki, but also vintage ads and, in general, the aesthetics of 80s-90s mass culture. And then Öyvind Fahlström e Armando Testa. Sometimes I take inspiration even from writers and film directors – I owe a lot to Henrik Ibsen’s theater, for instance.”
All of these imageries are brilliantly synthesized in different forms. For example, beside tattoos’ flash, or drawings inspired by Italian erotic comics of the 70s or Asian porn, Alberto also realizes flyers for fictional concerts. Sometimes these “gigs” get their own Facebook event-page and you can see people claiming they heard about the bands involved, which obviously don’t exist.
The central idea linking all his works seems to be the will to demystify. “Punk is not punk”. Symbols are just empty signs. Bodies are just mortal flesh, feeding the voyeurs’ appetites.
Another interesting aspect of Alberto Panegos’ work lays in his “technical” choices. In fact, no other technique would have been more effective for his direct, apparently impromptu drawings than markers on paper.
“I love paper. Stationers’ shops are like an alchemist laboratory to me. Paper is considered a humble material, but at the same time it’s very versatile and diverse. Colors, weight, textures change, and you can get a whole lot of different results depending on how you manipulate it: collages, dioramas, Xerox art, stickers, scrap books, origami…And beside that paper allows you to create anywhere you go. It disowns the dogma of the artistic act as needing a “noble” support, like canvas.”
Though Alberto started to show his drawings only four years ago, he had the chance to cooperate with a number of projects. We can recall, for insance, Vice, Dada Project (UK), Italian metal veterans Tytus, LORO. Lately, a video installation by Alberto has been exhibited during the queer festival GEGEN 8TERNITY at Berlin’s Kit Kat Club.