Interview: Lorella Paleni

Born in Italy, lives and works between Paris and New York. She graduated from Columbia University MFA program in 2015 and Academy of Fine Arts of Venice, Italy in 2010. Amongst her solo exhibitions are: “OTHƎRWISƎ”, Magic Beans Gallery, Berlin (2016); “Out Loud”, Kunstfabrik HB55, Berlin (2013). A selection of recent grants and fellowships include: Le CouveNt, Artist Residency Grant Program, Auzits, France (2016); TOMS Visual Arts Scholarship, Columbia University (2014); Robert Gamblin painting grant (2014); Italian Cultural Institute Residency Grant, Vilnius, Lituania (2013).

IMG_0540 C copy.jpg


My current practice gravitates around my interest in nature, the animal world, and an ecological thinking of our relationship to the world. I am particularly interested in those areas of blurriness - where dichotomy and duality, used by mankind to define and uplift itself, falls apart, and where our life overlaps with that of animals and the other. I’m interested in investigation on the wild and tamed, witches, marginalized figures of our culture, and the political resistance of relationships that cross the socially accepted dogmas of society. Through painting I am not trying to defining them, pinning them down, but rather to investigate their multiplicities, eluding categorization, to bring their existence there where they are not supposed to be, are not welcome. 

I create images that grow organically during the painting’s creation and that transform through a process of overlapping, erasing, adding, and scraping. The painting becomes a body, a place of transit, a battlefield, a living other, an event, trace of an accident; but also testimony of its own happening. 

Painting itself becomes, in its making, a language without a defined grammar and a space of possibility for the unplanned and unexpected to happen, an open space that welcomes the intruder and the foreign, the untamed, the non-human.


Tell us about your artistic journey. When did you first develop an interest in painting and how has it evolved over the years?
I have always been drawn to drawing but it’s only in my late teens that I really picked up painting and my 19ths that I fully invested in it. Starting art school was the turning point that made me decide to dedicate completely to painting. During the years my approach to painting and art, in general, has changed a lot, not only in the practical process of the creation but also in the way I think about it.  

Riverside, oil on canvas, 150x200cm.jpg

What is a typical day like for you?
I would lie if I were to say I have a typical day.
What would you say your paintings are about?
I would say they are about relationships, our relationship to the natural world, animals, and other people. I think they are also about language and its limits, but in a more subtle way.

Sleepless, oil on canvas, 60x60cm.jpg

We love the vibrant color and movement in your work. What emotions and experiences inspire your paintings?

Empathy is definitely an important act of feeling in my work.
Do you have a structured work schedule?

I don’t really have a structured work schedule; usually once I start working I do it until very late at night and takes up all my day. Sometimes if I know in advance I can’t devote the whole day to painting I rather do other things and free the next day to do only that. It can be a little different when I am working on an animation.

The absence of the Witch does not invalidate the Spell, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 101x115cm.jpg

Name a few achievements you are proud of in your career so far. 

For me it was a huge achievement to get my master degree in USA. That was something I had never really think I would do until I was actually doing it. But the biggest achievement was to find a strong community of artists, and friends, with which to share good and bad days, but above all people that challenge me and push me to be a better artist and person.

The Gift, 100x85 cm.jpg

What are you working on right now?
Currently preparing a solo exhibition in New York, at E.Tay gallery, titled “Dwellers” with opening October 18th. You are all invited.