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Giusto Pilan is an Italian artist, based in Venice, whose paintings, engravings and sculptures echo ancestral memories of mankind…

Giusto Pilan - Trionfo Della Morte

Giusto Pilan – Trionfo Della Morte

Mixed media on paper, 2017 (300 x 150cm)

What was your experience of studying at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia?

It was a very beautiful and stimulating experience, which allowed me to deepen the conceptual themes of contemporary art and above all to be able to compare myself through painting with other young artists.


The Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, founded in 1750.

You’ve described your art as ‘principally addressed to the recovery of a lost memory which finds its origins in the birth of mankind and the first rock’. When did these ideas first interest you?

It is something recondite in me that I have always felt and perceived irrationally first, then more and more conceptually until I understood that it was the only possible way. The example I like to cite is the writing of the philosopher Walter Benjamin’s “Thesis on the philosophy of history” which comments on the painting ‘Angelus Novus‘ by Paul Klee: this is the angel of history with his eyes turned to the memory of the past and the its wings open which it cannot close, as if dragged by a stormy and unstoppable wind towards the future. This image sums up my idea of ​​art.

Paul Klee - Angelus Novus

Angelus Novus, 1920 monoprint by Paul Klee.

What does prehistoric art & cave painting mean to you?

It is the primordial sign that interests me. The archetype of form. The sign stripped of decorative or formal tinsel.

Giusto Pilan - Angelo

Giusto Pilan – Angelo

2018, Mixed media on canvas (170 x 143cm).

Which artists have most influenced you?

Surely Jean Fautrier through informal painting, Jean Dubuffet and Art Brut, Antoni Tàpies with his graphic code and “walls” and Mario Sironi an Italian painter perhaps little known abroad who lived and worked under the Fascist regime for twenty years.

Inside the studio of Jean Dubuffet

Jean Dubuffet in his studio, 1967. Photograph by Luc Joubert.

Your archetypal depictions of horses, fawns and skulls could almost exist at any point in history. Do you strive to make work that appears timeless?

Even if I use a language that I consider contemporary, I am interested in creating a work that cannot be ascribed in a given historical period.

Giusto Pilan - Skull Africa


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Giusto Pilan – Skull

Oil, monotype on paper, 2017 (193 x 198cm)

Your painting technique utilises marble powder, wax and pigments before using a blowtorch to penetrate the materials. How did you develop this approach to painting?

Oil painting no longer satisfied me, I needed materiality, Fautrier and Tapies opened the way for me as did the ancient Romans with their encaustic painting technique where they heated wax mixed with pigments onto the wall (see the Villa dei Misteri of Pompeii).

Villa of The Mysteries - Pompeii

Villa of The Mysteries – Pompeii. Villa dei Misteri, ancient Roman villa on the outskirts of Pompeii. Photograph by Raffaele Pagani.

Your paper works are created by pressing iron profiles on paper, can you talk some more about this process?

It stems from the desire to leave a trace, an imprint as rarefied as possible using the chalcographic press. Iron plates and industrial materials are shaped in ways that engrave and retain the ink, creating monotypes.

Giusto Pilan - Senzo Ditolo

Giusto Pilan – Senzo Ditolo 3 & 4

Mixed media on paper and tar, 2012 & 2016 (140 x 36cm & 162 x 74cm)

If you could own any artwork in the world, what would it be?

St. John The Baptist by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Leonardo Da Vinci - St. John The Baptist

Leonardo Da Vinci – St. John The Baptist

1513–1516, Oil on walnut wood, 69× 57 cm. In the Louvre, Paris.

Giusto Pilan - Corvi A Passeggio

Giusto Pilan – Corvi A Passeggio

Mixed media on paper, 2019 (250 x 200cm)

Giusto Pilan - Sagome e Impronte


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Giusto Pilan – Skull, Africa

Mixed media on paper, 2017 (240 x 200cm)

Giusto Pilan - Corpus

Giusto Pilan – Corpus

2019 installation. Sculpture with tar and pigment (196 x 51 x 11cm). Mixed media on paper (250 x 100cm)

Giusto Pilan - Mani

Giusto Pilan – Mani

Mixed media and iron, 120 x 25cm (2012) and mixed media on paper, 140 x 50cm (2016).

Giusto Pilan - Devant le zinc

Giusto Pilan – Devant Le Zinc

Mixed media on paper, 92 x 71cm (2017).

Giusto Pilan - Exhibition

Giusto Pilan – Exhibition View

From the 2019 exhibition “Sagome e Impronte” (Silhouettes and Footprints).

Giusto Pilan - Animal

Giusto Pilan – Animal

Wax and oil on canvas (90 x 62cm).

Giusto Pilan - Fawn

Giusto Pilan – Fawn

Mixed media on iron, 2016.

Grazie Giusto for generously answering my questions in English and giving us further insight into your work and practice.

See more of Giusto’s work at, buy his work at Saatchi Art and follow his work on Instagram and Facebook and Youtube.

If you enjoyed this then check out our other Artist Interviews, Artists To Watch & Artist Spotlights.