Friendly monsters: The murals of Gio Pistone

Roman artist Gio Pistone is known for her eye-catching murals which are characterised by strong colour, rich imagination and geometric patterns.

Wanted in Rome put a series of questions to Pistone who was born in 1974 and is based at a collective studio in the capital's Portonaccio district. 

How, when and where did your begin painting on walls, and what is your background in art?

I started making street art aged 18, simply by attaching my drawings around Rome in 1993-1994, at a time when this was not the done thing. The first graffiti crews were on the scene, there were lots of "tags", but not a whole lot else. I began painting in abandoned factories but without taking colours with me, just using materials I found on the spot. It was a rudimentary, prehistoric muralism. My artistic formation began when I was very young in my home which was frequented by musicians and artists because my father and my mother moved in those circles. So you could say that I was born right in the middle of an arty world.

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What are your influences – visual or literary – and how do they inspire your work?

My curiousity extends a little everywhere. Art, music, science, nature, poetry, cinema, set design, astronomy; I rarely get bored. Figures who have opened my heart include Cortázar, Bas Jan Ader, Montale, Barthes, Rodari, Munari, Miró, Jean Arp, David Lynch, Fellini, Monty Python, Shakespeare.. oh and I am enchanted by birds of paradise!

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Would you say that the fantastical creatures in your paintings originate from the world of dreams or nightmares?

What I draw comes from the monsters I dreamt of as a child. I used to wake up scared and crying, so my mother, a young psychology student, encouraged me to draw, to give the monsters a face. This therapeutic game was not only miraculous, because I stopped being afraid, but it was also incredible from a creative point of view as it opened the doors of this world. At the age of five I began to draw monsters from my imagination and it's amazing that I still do this after all these years.

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Could you tell us about the journey towards your trademark style and how it has developed over the years?

My style is instinctive, I deliberately make rude and crooked marks that I never wanted to correct with schools or studies. I began drawing at the age of one and I never stopped, the only change that I see over time is the simplification of lines, in other words I am always moving more toward the abstract.

What projects have you planned in the near future, and where can people see your murals in Rome?

The near future will be very hectic, I leave for two residences in Sardinia and Abbruzzo, in one of which I will make a large sculpture, a new experience for me. Then I will participate in a mural painting festival, Nottenera a Serra de’Conti, in a medieval town in Le Marche. I will paint throughout the night, relying on the light of candles, sunlight and sunrise. Magnificent! I will return to Rome in September, almost continually on the go – I can not wait!

To learn more about Gio Pistone see her website.

Andy Devane

This article was published in the April 2017 edition of Wanted in Rome magazine.