Peter D’Alessandri | Issue Eight Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work

I didn't have a good time at art school. I studied for my BA at Norwich, starting out absolutely in love with art and painting. I left demoralised and disillusioned. I think I associated the creative process with some personal problems I was going through, and chose not to paint for the next twenty years!

More recently, I found myself in a Daniel Blake type benefit trap. My partner was seriously unwell after a major operation and needed assistance at home, but the powers that be decided she didn't qualify for disability benefit and I couldn't claim carer's allowance. In desperation, I tried to think of how I could earn some money working from home while caring for her. So I started painting again - small studies that I could sell online. I was surprised how well it went. Most importantly, it felt like a part of me had awoken. I was in love with painting again, and had a ravenous appetite for anything to do with art. My partner's health deteriorated, and I ended up losing her to illness. An experience like that does change you. Something inside me changed, and I now feel unable to go back to my old life, my old job. I have been painting ever since.

Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work

My work is really just about people. When younger I was chronically shy, lonely and socially inept. I felt a deep chasm, a disconnect between myself and other people, and it seemed that everyone else navigated through life with no difficulty. As I grew older and acquired the skills and tools to overcome my anxieties, I could look around at other people and see that they were just as disconnected and isolated as I was, but they had some skills to get by. Anyway, that's what I'm interested in.

Is there something you couldn't live without in your studio? what is your most essential tool?

Earl Grey tea. Electric kettle.

Tell us how you organise, plan, and prioritise your work

Badly, badly and badly.

Describe the trajectory of your career as an artist so far

Whatever progress I make, I only ever feel that I'm just at the start of something. I suspect that I'll always feel that way.

Professionally, what is your goal?

Of course I want commissions to continue and regular sales, but the most important thing for me is to feel excited about going into the studio in the morning.

Are there any upcoming exhibitions or projects in the works?

I've paintings in a couple of group shows coming up soon - The Nude at Candid Arts and The Death of Art at Vout-O-Reenee's, with other shows in the pipeline.

I'm currently working on a series of anonymous nude portraits; almost like mugshots (for which I'm looking for models). Once you strip someone bare of their clothes and props - their carefully developed facade - what can we really tell about that person? Is it a more honest representation, or is our personality just as much about how we choose to present ourselves to the world?

I'm fascinated by this dynamic relationship between model, artist and viewer: how someone chooses to pose; how I describe that; and then how the viewer interprets it.

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