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Old to alien: Federico Vecchi

Turning boring household objects into compelling, alien works of art is Vienna-based artist Federico Vecchi’s specialty. Among all the Gallery Weekend madness, don't miss Vecchi at Art Von Frei starting May 1.

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Photo by Matthias Aschauer

Turning boring household objects into compelling, alien works of art is Vienna-based artist Federico Vecchi’s specialty.

Originally from Italy, Vecchi has been living and working in Austria for the past few years. Painting has always been his focus, but recently, working as an assistant to the Austrian artist Erwin Wurm, Vecchi has turned his talents more towards sculpture – as well as a unique, performative type of composition which mixes street art with collage. Ten years after living in Berlin, he will finally be showing his art here in a solo show at Mitte’s brand-new Art Von Frei Gallery, running through June 25.

How do you think your work has changed in the last few years?

It’s better [laughs]. It becomes better and better… No, basically, I’m a painter. But in the last year, due to my work experience, I started to make sculptures and a collage series. I go to those empty shops, you know, where posters are attached to the front. When people take the posters off, because they are illegal, you just see these little corners of paper with tape on them. I took that material and I made the collages out of it. I started to do this last year. It’s my most performative work, because I do it live on the street.

What about the sculptures in the show?

The sculptures are observations about everyday life. I took really simple shopping bags, plastic bags, and I modified them with tape and filled them with liquid plaster. And then I painted them again, in order to hide the plaster. I don’t want people to wonder what it’s about, I just want to disorientate them. I want them to think the material is coming from space, or from a really exotic place. They all have kind of zoomorphic, anthropomorphic shapes.

A plastic bag seems so unnatural, not part of the environment, but then your sculptures look very organic… Were you thinking about this contrast?

I always wanted to make sculptures, and my latest work experience allowed me to work with plaster, with wood, with other materials, with clay… I always like to work with my hands. So I was in my studio, and I just looked around for materials I could use. And I saw the recycling bins. I started to take out old shopping bags, old bottles, and I started to fill them with plaster. It was the most natural thing. It was instinctive. I like when people stand in front of my sculptures and say, “Which material is this?” I just want to let people forget about the material. I want to let them come into this colourful world, you know? It’s just about going into this world which I create.

What about your collage work – in that case, do you want people to know what’s behind the piece?

The technique is always important. Especially for the collages. If you look at the collage you think, “Yeah, okay, it’s colour composition,” but you have to understand that I’m not adding anything, I just use what I’ve found. I showed the collages to some people and they were like, “Okay, it’s good…” But when I showed them the video of me doing it, they were like, “Oh, wow! You do it there?” The video which shows the process of doing the collage is kind of part of the work itself. It’s between street art and performance.

FEDERICO VECCHI, May 1-Jun 25 | Art Von Frei, Brunnenstr. 187, Mitte, U-Bhf Rosenthaler Platz, Tue-Sat 12-19