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Exhibition review Pertinent purgatory visions

by Michal Boncza

Piero Pierini: Drawings
Abasto
London W2

Piero Pierini arrived in London 21 years ago, after Argentina spiralled into economic catastrophe under the corrupt rule of Fernando de la Rua.

He left secondary school, made infamous by the disappearance of 10 of its students in the 1976 “night of the pencils,” to study illustration at the University of La Plata.

Piero’s Italian nationality inherited from his anarchist bricklayer grandfather opened the EU gates.

Over some yerba mate he tells the Morning Star how a chance encounter with Richard Appignanesi of the internationally successful illustrated For Beginners book series brought commissions and, most importantly, imposed the kind of creative discipline that greatly assisted him in developing a personal and unique drawing style.

The Beginners books and the more recent covers for Hesperus Brief Lives series are as rich in exquisite detail as they are engagingly utilitarian for the transparency they bring to the narratives they illustrate.

But away from commercial considerations, Piero’s mind explores and his observation focuses on the imperceptible spaces where fable, dreams and wonderment hold their own against fear, nightmare and despair, often infused with a large dose of subtle humour and pointed satire.

In Beginning, an apparently ferocious lion and a small child connect through a the gentlest of imaginable touches, in Bullfight the roles and rules are humorously reversed in a spinning ballet of shapes, while Conquistadores meditates on a “clash of cultures.”

The surreal Hard Times, the delightfully sinister anthropomorphic Wisdom Sword and the menacing Chisme/Gossip point to the malevolent absurdities in our own world.

Piero, a one-time sufferer from depression —  the frequent lot of an immigrant — has successfully used Shaur shamanic therapy to purge his demons and positively reconfigure his responses to reality.

All the drawings are initiated with rapid, subconscious, linear annotation of an emotional response to the subject.

“Marx might appear huge next to diminutive Engels, this may or may not work, but cannot and will not be resolved by punctilious piling in of detail,” he says, adding: “Seeking the subtext and not the obvious association is how the image acquires legitimacy.”

Oscar Grillo, a well-known fellow Argentinian illustrator and British resident, says: “Piero’s lines are immersive and capricious, they dance on the page with great sinuosity and rhythm achieving the irreverence that gives his drawings a sense of freedom.”

Washes, the finest of precise lines deftly defining contour, menacing and impenetrable black shadows all swirl revealing worlds of layered and intriguing meanings.

These graphic communications, melancholic, entertaining and thought-provoking, are exquisite intellectual, as well as pictorial, companions — worthy of a wall near you.

Until August 31 2018. Free. Further contact pieroart@gmail.com.

 

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