2018 #2

The Silent City

by Paolo Ventura

Dreams, anxieties and obsessions fuel Ventura’s practice, whose latest project critiques the diminishing status of the architect in favour of the housing market.

Unseen Platform: Where do you look for artistic inspiration?

Paolo Ventura: This is a difficult question to answer. For me, artistic inspiration comes from a rich mixture of dreams, anxieties, frustrations, obsessions, enchantment and the experiences I’ve lived. The boredom and loneliness of my adolescence also generated a host of dreams and images from which I often draw inspiration to this day. Additionally, my father was a famous illustrator back in the 1970s. Watching him busy drawing through the blue light of the smoke from his pipe has always been a huge motivation to continue creating stories.

Could you describe your newest work, The Silent City, for us?

The project investigates how the concept of the architect as the “curator” of daily life has been undercut by the corporate search for economic and expedient expansionism, offering “cut-and-paste” solutions. I feel as though this loss of human presence in creating cities has led to them to lose their human voices. I constructed miniature sculptures and images containing cities which I painted, stamped, typed and drew over. These cryptic images can be seen as painted memories of a desolate and abandoned city, but can just as well represent images of a futuristic city.

Identity and elements of self-portraiture play key roles in your work. Could you expand on this?

I was born and raised with an identical twin brother, and in my latest works in particular I’ve been obsessed with identity. I always try to represent myself in a way that differs from reality, either by painting my face or through wearing costumes. Looking at the world through a mirror where the image of my double is reflected has helped me see what’s around me with more depth.

What does a typical day look like in your studio?

In the morning, I typically lose time, and in the afternoon I tend to work until about 18.30. I then have a glass of red wine, and I realise that the time in the morning was not actually lost!

Read more (1 min read)

Photo of The Silent City by Paolo Ventura

Photo of The Silent City by Paolo Ventura

Paolo Ventura

Milan, IT

Paulo Ventura portrait

Paolo Ventura

Milan, IT

In describing the work of Paolo Ventura (b. 1968, Italy) an electric - and at times contradictory vocabulary emerges. Surreal, strange, dark, playful, poetic and theatrical are amongst appropriate labels. His images are dreamscapes of a unique childhood. A penchant for delicate painting has been inspired by his father, who was a famous illustrator during the 1970’s. Growing up with an identical twin brother projects questions of identity onto ghostly self-portraits. The artist’s training in set design is self-evident in his foreboding, three-dimensional worlds, with characters who have stepped out of an alternative storybook.

View Artist Profile

Keep exploring

Selected by Unseen and experts from diverse fields, take an in-depth look at one artistic project every week of the year.

Story duo


${project.title} by ${project.artist.title}

You have reached the end.

Start at the beginning.

Unseen Platform uses cookies to give you the best experience. By continuing to browse you agree to our privacy policy that can be accessed here.

Okay, thank you