MIKAEL LO PRESTI
"ONE PLUS ONE"

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04.05.-10-05.2020:   CHADWICK RANTANEN
11.05.-17.05.2020:   TORBJØRN RØDLAND
18.05.-24.05.2020:   ASAL PEIROVI
25.05.-31.05.2020:   MIKAEL LO PRESTI
01.06.-07.06.2020:   MARI SLAATTELID
08.06.-14.06.2020:   GARDAR EIDE EINARSSON
15.06.-21.06.2020:   MICHAELA MEISE
22.06.-28.06.2020:   HANNAH RYGGEN
29.06.-05.07.2020:   NINA BEIER
06.07.-12.07.2020:   MARIUS ENGH
13.07.-19.07.2020:   FREDRIK VÆRSLEV
 

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1. Your use of the white paint really pops out for me, do you have any thought about that (color)? How do you relate to it, do you have any idea why?

This question brings me back to being a student without money in Oslo. I could rarely afford paint but in school it was possible to grind your own titanium white without any cost. This resulted in a lot of white paint in my studio, I think it has just carried on as a habit. The last year or so I have been using a lot more bright and clear colors because now I can afford what I want.

2. 8 or 24?

I started to look at NBA games in 2000 when I was 10. Kobe Bryant wore nr. 8 and his Lakers played in the finals against the Pacers. I recorded all of those games on VHS and it had a big impact on me as a kid, so I have to go with 8. When he changed to 24 I had many other interests in life, and they overlapped my basketball interest. I’m back to it now though.

3. What is your process like? Do you have a specific plan when you start a new painting?

I almost never have a specific plan before I start to paint, however I might set a few rules for myself before a project that involves many paintings. An example could be that all of them start out with a specific color, or that they will have a split in the middle. I also draw and take pictures of a lot of potential motifs that end up in a sort of image bank.

4. Some of the patterns that you make use of in your paintings I find to be nostalgic both in terms of shape and colour. Then you end up breaking it up with moderns objects and actions painted in your particular way. Is time something you play with and examine in your works?

While I am physically painting I am not really thinking about time as a subject matter. I am more concerned about how I construct my paintings. Often it is with motifs and objects belonging to different times and places. So in the end when a work is done it can contain images from a memory of the past or something I just saw the other day. I am aware that time plays a role in my work, but it is more when a work is finished that I think about it.

5. A remarkable number of your paintings contain hands. They are like small sculptures – whether they are carefully leafing through a book, gift wrapping a heart or dropping a lemon. What is it about hands that you find fascinating? What makes them interesting from a painterly point of view?

I am not interested in making portraits of specific people. Hands is one way of adding human precense to the paintings. They can also guide how you perceive a painting. Sometimes I feel as if they are my own hands, other times they are more like background actors. I like that you see them as little sculptures!

6. There are some figurines and objects that keep on recurring in your paintings; horses, dogs, lemons, hands, watermelons, to mention but a few. What makes an object interesting enough for you to make use of it in your works? How do you arrange for the objects to fit within your universe?

It’s hard to pin down the process of it, but I have to feel something or have a connection to every motif I paint, it has to come from somewhere (memory, experience, logo, story etc). The way it happens in the studio is pretty much by trying different ”visual hangups” out. It is never totally random.

7. How do you foresee your artistic project continuing to develop?

There is no clear answer to this. I am in the studio every day, painting or just sitting around reading, drawing etc. Trying things out and experimenting is a big part of the process, and moments when something unexpected happens is when I feel that my work can potentially move forward. In between projects I try to go traveling for some days. That is an important habit for me, and keeps me from getting stuck in any particular method of working. However, there is no grand plan in how I want my paintings to look or be in the future; I believe that my pure interest in making work will result in pushing my project forward.

8. What artists insipre you?

There are so many, I can’t name all of them, and even if I tried I would still forget important ones. But a lot of artist friends from Oslo and Stockholm inspire me, and places I visit gives me a lot of inspiration as well. I bought a book about Walter Swennen when I was in Vienna recently, and that book was inspiring!

9. Zlatan or Totti?

My father and especially one of my brothers really loved seeing Italy play in the World Cup, they would stand up shouting infront of the TV, so if I would have been asked this question in 2004 when Zlatan made his famous ”trick shot goal” vs. Italy this would have been a controversial question to ask. Now, having experience of living in Malmö, having siblings living there, more or less all my childhood friends, and not being afraid of what my brother and father would say, I say Zlatan.

10. How did your mother influenced you as an artist ten years ago and how does she continue to do so today?

My mother was interested in painting when she was young and took a course in Malmö as a teenager. She has a very peculiar way of telling improvised stories, it can almost get a little scary at times with all her very specific details and anecdotes. When I applied for art schools she was supporting me, my father on the other hand (who supports me now) wanted me to consider becoming a plumber instead. Without my mother I would have been doing something completely different. She still calls me sometimes with ideas for paintings.

12. Why painting? Why is the medium important to you?

To answer this question would be like explaining why I have a social life, and why people are important to me. Is it because they make me laugh, or because I need love? Is it because I can relax with my friends, or because they challenge me? Or maybe because they make me forget about my anxiety? There are so many reasons and they are not that important to articulate; I like my social life.

13. Are you nostalgic?

I am not trying to idealize the past, but it does slip in to my work. I think the paintings are more about the now. Whether I use images from the past or the present, the narrative is always broken, they get mixed up.


 

Special thanks to Eivind Furnesvik, Erling Kagge, Pål Mitlid, Audun Sandem, Katinka Traaseth, Anna Zacharoff for their questions.

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Mikael Lo Presti
Still life/Postcards
2020

Oil, wood glue and pigment on canvas / Aluminum stretcher
200 x 125 x 2.5 cm / 78 3⁄4 x 49 1⁄4 x 1 in
Unique / SOMLP/P 2020-007

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