Interview with Street Artist ALO
ALO is a London based street artist from Italy who is known from bringing indoor painting techniques out to the streets with his unique style of artwork. He started off his career in London, giving the streets a touch of color and exhibiting his work in galleries. After having two successful shows in London he went on to hold his own solo show “Hail to the loser” in 2014 at the famous Saatchi Gallery. ALO continues to spread his artwork around the European streets and galleries all over Berlin, Paris and London. He uses his art to communicate with art enthusiasts and the people that stumble onto his pieces in the walls of alley ways and streets, through portraying different emotions by using different paint strokes and techniques with every peice.
We at Kingdome had the oppurnity to interview ALO and be more familiar with his works of art.
When did it all begin? And how did you first become interested in street art/graffiti?
I’m actually a painter, so it all began painting on canvas. Then I started painting on walls using the same brush technique I use on canvas. Even if my influences come from the painting history, I was fascinated by the idea of painting on public walls, I wanted to bring actual paintings on walls, and admired this freedom from graffiti and street art. At the same time I did not feel easy in the idea of the contemporary environment of official fine art etc, too elitist in my opinion. Later I’ve found out that the street art world is actually the copycat of the official art world, but it pretends to be alternative, just a matter of selling, nothing more than rough advertisement.
Where did the name come from?
It comes from the first letters of my actual name, “Aristide Loria”, a very easy solution, not much fantasy into that.
What gave you that initial push to be a street artist?
I was looking for a way to “Speak” in a more direct way to people, that’s why I decided to start painting on walls. At the same time, I wanted to add to the street art something more related to Art meant as painting and expressionism as I see street art mostly influenced by graphic/pop art/comic world.
How do you describe the style of your pieces?
It’s hard for an artist to describe his own work, the only thing I can say is that it probably comes from the expressionist culture, whatever it may mean.
Which artist/s is/are your biggest inspiration?
Caravaggio, Picasso, Mondrian, Pollock, Kirchner and all the expressionist artists in general. Even if it may look strange my painting is inspired also from music and literature at the same level than painters, think art is one thing, dividing it into categories is just a need we have to manage that better.
Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your artwork?
The expressionist culture and African too, but also the Italian culture in general, I’m Italian so it s a part of me even if I’ve not been aware of that for a long time.
What are your sources of inspiration these days?
Usually it’s life, in its good and bad sides.
What do your pieces usually focus on?
I mostly focus on women portraits. I’m fascinated by female figure, as I believe is the most interesting and pure part of human beings.
What is the riskiest thing you have ever done?
Better I don’t talk about that.
Are you generally satisfied with your finished pieces?
I have a Hate/Love relationship with my work, they are like sons and daughters to me, and it works like that.
Does music play a big role while your working or do you need a quite environment?
It depends, sometimes I enjoy silence, sometimes I need music or whatever.
If you do listen to music while working what is the one track that would usually be on repeat?
Fabrizio De Andre’, Nirvana, George Brassens, Jaques Brel, Mad Season.
Where are you pieces usually located?
I mostly paint in East London and Paris, nord side of Paris, from Le Marais to Belville. I painted in Berlin as well.
Do you find it difficult to do your work in the streets?
I find it quite natural, even if I find more natural to paint a canvas in my studio
Have you had any problems with authority because of being a street artist?
Sometimes they stopped me while I was painting, but they didn’t arrest me at least.
Do you have a formal art education?
I think education in art is a problem. So I’m happy not to have it. I know potentially good artists whose creativity and uniqueness have been standardized by academic studies. At school everyone has to follow the same artistic rules while I think any artist needs his own rules. At the same time, I believe art history is important to know. I learned painting simply looking at the paintings of the masters. it’s all in there, it’s a visual lesson.
Has your work ever been exhibited?
I had a solo show at the Saatchi gallery on 2014, and another one on March 2017. I had been in two group shows at Stolen Space gallery on 2014 and 2013, a group show in Bruxelles and at the moment I’ve been included in some auctions in Paris.
How do you feel about the movement of graffiti into galleries?
To me, as a painter who paints on the streets, galleries are a perfect space to show paintings, also because my work is mostly focused on paintings. Regarding the old school graffiti or street art moving into galleries, I think it’s something to be asked to people who do actually that.
Would you rather paint alone? Or do you prefer collaborations?
I never paint in collaboration. I think it’s a very personal thing, so to me it’s hard to mix what I do with another artist.
Have you ever collaborated with other artists?
I know many artists but never had a collaboration with them, if you mean to paint an artwork together. But it’s good to exchange artistic points of view.
What do you see as the future of street art / graffiti?
Honestly I don’t see a bright future. Most of the street art in London is done with permission and many artists get paid to work on public walls. Anyone can do whatever he wants, but I believe in a pure way of working in the streets, not linked to money. At the moment there is a strong phenomenon involving street art with permission and tourism. I prefer to work with no permission and for free on the street. On the other side I feel closer to the graffiti mind because they go on tagging without asking for permission.
Are there any issues regarding graffiti that particularly engage you? Any messages you wish to convey to your viewers?
Any messages you wish to convey to your viewers? I don’t think art has to convey any message, I think artists are not in the role to convey a message or to teach anything to anyone, I think art is just an expression of the artist himself, that becomes a mirror where other people can see a reflection of their soul.