Towards Artissima with P420 director Alessandro Pasotti

Gallerist Alessandro Pasotti in the Selection Committee for Artissima 2018
P420, P420 gallery, Bologna, Alessandro Pasotti, Artissima, Artissima 2018

Alessandro Pasotti


Matilde Soligno: Less than ten years after co-founding – with Fabrizio Padovani – P420 Arte Contemporanea in Bologna (Italy), you were invited to be a part of the Selection Committee for this 25th edition of Artissima in Turin, which is at the top of the list of Italy’s major art fairs. Can you tell us about the origins of your gallery, and how your efforts evolved to be recognized both on a national and international scale?

Alessandro Pasotti: Artissima was actually the first internationally recognized art fair that understood from the very beginning the peculiarity of our project. Indeed, our gallery started with the aim of re-reading and presenting to a contemporary audience artwork made in the past, mostly avant-garde research from the 1970s, whose value for some reason hadn’t been discovered yet. Our mission was then to re-discover a number of artists, both from the point of view of the artistic and market value of their work. Artissima was in fact the first art fair in Italy to follow this trend, that was already present abroad and highlighted by the program carried on by museums, galleries, and art fairs. One of the signature sections of Artissima is indeed called Back to The Future: it was in this section that we were invited to take part, already at the very start of our gallery’s career, in 2011. With this, Artissima recognized our effort in not only rediscovering artists from the 1970s, but justifying our choice in a strong curatorial perspective – most of all, by demonstrating why the artwork we are proposing is relevant today. The artists we have been working with – such as Irma Blank, Franco Vaccari, Paolo Icaro – not only were relevant since the 1970s, but have been demonstrating both a continuity in their artistic path, and a capability of being transversal to time and space. It may very well have been their relatively modest success during that period that led them to continue their work with such commitment to quality and consistency throughout the decades until today.

For the past 4-5 years, P420 has been devoted not only to re-reading and re-contextualizing historical art, but to the presentation of work by young contemporary artists. Thus, it became important to start collaborating with younger curators from the international scene, such as Antonio Grulli, Davide Ferri, Cecilia Canziani, Chris Sharp, and João Laia. With their contribution, we began inserting into our program younger artists who could be consistent with our poetics and sensitivity. Moreover, by showing established artists along with younger generations, we believe we can create new dialogs and energies. We realized that, even when we install our shows in an art fair, we can put different generations in conversation.

This evolution wasn’t at all predictable, nor common for a private gallery. To be honest, me and Fabrizio were kind of nervous at the beginning. We were afraid we wouldn’t be able to reach the necessary knowledge – such as the one we have about art from the 1970s – of what’s new in contemporary art. Despite these fears, we have been able to participate in the young art scene, and to bring our collectors with us as well, which is a great result, in our opinion.

All this, plus the dialog with institutions – by promoting our artists with museums, and publishing monographs of their work featuring texts by international curators – allows us to keep in touch with an ever-evolving art scene, and to stimulate our collectors’ interest for contemporary young artists.


Fabrizio Padovani, P420, P420 gallery, Bologna, Alessandro Pasotti, Artissima, Artissima 2018

P420 founders and directors Alessandro Pasotti and Fabrizio Padovani

June Crespo, John Coplans, P420, P420 gallery, Bologna, Alessandro Pasotti, Artissima, Artissima 2018

John Coplans & June Crespo
Foreign bodies (2018), installation view
P420 Gallery, Bologna
Ph. C. Favero


Matilde Soligno: As you pointed out, P420 was invited early on to take part in the Artissima art fair thanks to your expertise and re-evaluation of artistic research from the 1970s. It seems that this approach, together with your commitment to promoting younger artists, might have also been at the root of Artissima’s choice to invite you to be part of the Selection Committee for the Main Section and the New Entries Section of this year’s edition of the art fair. Can you tell us something about the selection process?

Alessandro Pasotti: Being invited to take part in Artissima’s Selection Committee has been a great satisfaction. It has given recognition to our work and to our way of representing both historical and emerging artists. Showing artwork from the 1970s has been a trend in the international scene, but exhibiting a previously under-represented artist isn’t enough: there needs to be a strong and consistent vision behind this operation. In fact, a less committed approach can lead to sales initially, but often its momentum is soon exhausted, and thus it doesn’t succeed in creating trust in the long run, which entails also the collaboration with institutions such as museums, in order to keep showing these artists. In this sense, our project has been rewarded: for instance, Irma Blank has generated a great deal of interest among international collectors, which wasn’t the case when we first started representing her work. The same has happened with Romanian artist Ana Lupas and Croatian artist Goran Trbuljak.

The invitation to the 2018 Selection Committee has definitely been a confirmation of the success of our gallery’s approach to representing art, and of the fact that we can add something to the fair’s identity. In fact, one of the objectives of Artissima’s Selection Committee is to focus on the latest avant-garde research, by choosing galleries whose programs revolve mostly around contemporary artwork, and at the same time by giving space to those galleries that propose historical artists in a new way, with new interpretation keys.

Artissima is renowned for this approach, and also for the space it gives to international galleries and artists, with a very high percentage of foreign galleries selected – the highest in Italy. Artissima has been working extensively in the promotion of international galleries, also through the involvement of a number of foreign curators.

It was for me a very new experience and an exciting opportunity, and I hope to be able to contribute further to bringing new energy to the art fair, and to help it maintain its strong identity. There are many art fairs in the international scene, thus it is vital for Artissima to have its own specific identity. In my opinion, to establish its role as unique in displaying international art is very important to Artissima’s vitality, and also to attract collectors to the art fair.

In this sense, the work that has been done in giving space to international young artists and galleries has been fruitful. This is definitely a direction that needs to be sustained in the future, and that helps Artissima differentiate itself from other international art fairs – such as Frieze, Fiac, and Art Basel – that tend to invite already-established galleries, with a strong position within the international art scene. Those emerging galleries that don’t yet have a chance to participate in the more established art fairs can bring vital energy to Artissima and contribute to shaping its identity.


Irma Blank, P420, P420 gallery, Bologna, Alessandro Pasotti, Artissima, Artissima 2018

Irma Blank
Life Line (2017), installation view
P420 Gallery, Bologna
Ph. C. Favero

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by Matilde Soligno
in Focus on Europe

Wed Development by Digital Art Factory