The unreservedly remarkable pen and ink drawings of artist and photographer, Alessandro Paglia, should be used to eliciting the responses: "It can't possibly be… There's no way… That is definitely a photograph." Created entirely by hand, first through a pencil sketch of the subject and then through the use of "superimposing a layer of chaotic lines on top of another" with intensely black, felt-tipped pens on rough-grain cotton paper, the artist spends a painstaking fifty, to two hundred and fifty hours working on each oversize drawing. But the near photographic results are well worth the laborious process for each of his custom made art pieces.
In fact, the drawings - which can be commissioned to be as large as 113 x 940 cm - are the result of Alessandro combining his two passions, these being photography and fine art. The process itself entails Alessandro first taking to the photography studio where, after arranging his chosen subject (more on that below), Alessandro shoots "a few tens of photographs" as he tries to achieve the perfect image that offers exactly what he's looking for regarding the composition, and the play of shadows and light. This is the stage where photography turns to fine art and the technical 0.1 to 0.8 black felt pens replace his camera. As he says, "normally, I do not just reproduce an object as is, but with simple interventions such as a special coating, a deformation […] I want to get a surprise, a 'twist' on the story that the object recounts."
One of these 'twists' is that the still-life objects he depicts aren't the usual flowers-artfully-arranged-in-a-vase sort but, rather, pop cultural icons. Think a pair of Converse All Star sneakers, a donut with sprinkles, a crumpled hundred dollar bill, a Star Wars Shadow Trooper helmet, or a bottle of Campari. "Each of us is familiar with each subject yet can relate to it in a personal, unique way that has to do with our own experiences and memories," Alessandro says regarding why he finds his inspiration in these items.
In fact, all of these items seem to have been taken from a greater context, as if looking at these sketches is looking at only one part of a whole story. They make viewers wonder what the other part of the scenario is. Take for instance the drawing, Money Bag, an impressive one meter by one meter large sketch featuring an opened gym bag filled with thousands of dollars, a fluffy bunny stuffed animal toy and a gun. What just happened behind the scenes of this image? Was there a bank heist and these its spoils? If so, where does the bunny toy come in? In fact, Alessandro's art is full of these unrefined stories which are always up for personal interpretation… that is, once a viewer accepts the fact that these are really drawings and not photographs.
A sneak peek at the process behind the making of "Money Bag," a pen drawing which required 130 hours of work (and 50 pens)
Drawn by Alessandro Paglia
Directed, Filmed and Edited by Dirk Meister.
Music by Kabbalistic Village - Driving in the Desert