The text artist Massimo Agostinelli

Massimo Agostinelli

The young emerging contemporary American Italian artist Massimo Agostinelli who’s been dubbed the next ‘Ed Ruscha’ shares his insights with FAD Magazine as we take a look at his thriving art practice including large scale commissioned works for collectors in New York, London and South Africa.

Massimo Agostinelli grew up in New York, lives in Switzerland but was born in London, where he began his career working as an apprentice printmaker and type setter, soon after he launched the ‘Palindromes Series, 2014’ at 10 Hanover which sold out on the opening night. Spears Magazine

Agostinelli then released his ‘Anagrams Series, 2015’ at the Hoerle Guggenheim Gallery in New York which was hosted by 3x Grammy Winner Maxwell. Observer Magazine

Your work seems to be based in your apprenticeships in typesetting and typography how do you feel your practice has grown from this beginning?
Its always evolving but my core fascination with ‘text’ is something that has stuck with me for as long as I can remember. Communication is everything, without it we are lost and text is a natural extension of our language. Living through a digital era like no other has definitely impacted my practice especially with some of my more recent work.

What is the point of what you do? What are you trying to say / achieve? 
I observe and study things no one else pays attention to, therefore I humbly feel compelled to make a series of worthy commentaries. With the eventual hope that a like minded individual(s) will take note and carry the light on to future generations. If all else fails, at least I’ll have known that I was able to invoke a positive emotion, which I believe has an eternal ripple effect.

Massimo Agostinelli

Is it important to you that your art practice is self sustaining?
Yes, of course but not if it compromises the integrity of the initial thought and overall process. It’s about finding a healthy balance whereby creation avoids destruction, unless that’s the intention!

Why do you need words in your work? Most artists have abandoned them.
Just as there’s no way to say which is more important, ‘numbers’ or ‘letters’. The same is true in art, each component has unparalleled uniquely independent value. Aesthetic variations impact emotions just like wearing colored lens glasses can alter one’s mood. But, I believe if “a picture speaks a thousand words then a word speaks a thousand pictures.” Take for example the word ‘LIFE’, I guarantee you the visual images streaming through your mind are very different from mine. Interpretation is expressed subjectively by each viewer’s personal experiences and other social attributes through experiential understanding and to me words help connect fiction with reality or vice versa, it’s a portal to another dimension in one’s imagination not too dissimilar to the way poetry works.

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Extremely important but nothing is more paramount than the idea itself. Truth prevails irrespective of material. Although I will say, I do take framing very seriously which is why I work with John Jones.

When did you realize you had to make art?
It’s hard to pin point a specific moment in time because its something that was always inherently linked to who I am. Fundamentally, ‘art made me’ and when I realized this I had to give back and let it take over.

When will people be able see your work and where? 
I’ll soon be exhibiting the ‘Signs Series, 2016’ at Beers Gallery in London.

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Agostinelli is represented by Vertes Gallery in Zurich, Switzerland. In 2017 Agostinelli became a founding partner and global brand ambassador for Mene. His clients include an array of celebrities and business moguls alike such as, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bernie Ecclestone and Elizabeth Hurley. Agostinelli was selected by Simon de Pury to exhibit at the Dallas Contemporary Art Museum for MTV Staying Alive Foundation. He has also exhibited at the Tsinandali Museum, the Saatchi Gallery, as well as having several works held at the permanent private collection of the Alpina Gstaad along side fellow artists such as Tracey Emin, Alex Israel, Richard Aldrich, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Dan Colen and Bosco Sodi among others. Agostinelli is a founding patron of the Zeitz Museum. In 2015 Agostinelli was selected by Russell Simmons to take part in the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation in celebration of their 20th anniversary. In 2016, Agostinelli participated in “the first Instagram curated art exhibition” by Avant Arte at Unit London, in addition he participated in a group show sponsored by ING Group in association with the Federation of British Artistsat Mall Galleries. In 2017 Artnet reported that Agostinelli staged a highly provocative and controversial performance art installation using a trashcan at Art Basel in Switzerland which was hailed; “one of the most engaging works made in 2017” by a member of the Nahmad clan.
Subsequently the Art Basel trashcan went on display for a group show with Russell Young entitled NEO POP at Galerie von Vertes.

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine Founder and co-publisher Art of Conversation and founder of the platform @worldoffad