Peter D' Alessandri is one of the artists participating in the exhibition 'Recurring Memories', and he answers some of our questions about his inspirations, the best part of being an artist, and more.
What’s your background? I studied fine art painting at Norwich School of Art in the late 80's. It was a nightmare. I suffered from crippling anxiety and depression at the time, and no one even noticed; not even friends and family. When I left I felt quite broken, and I somehow associated this awful time with Art and the art world. I didn’t want anything to do with it; I didn’t paint again for nearly twenty years. When I did eventually pick up my paint brushes, I found I had the same love and enthusiasm for painting that I had as a young student, before setting off for Norwich. I felt bad for having turned my back on it. I’ve been trying to make up for lost time ever since. What does art mean to you? So many things. It gives me a voice. It’s given me a way to connect with people, that I would otherwise find difficult. And hopefully I can leave something nice behind, something that moves people.
How did you start making art/Why do you make art?
I’ve always been a mark maker. As a toddler I would scribble on and deface any available surface, to my Mum’s horror. I suppose it gets taught out of you, which is a shame… But I think that the pleasure I get now from painting on a blank canvas is from that same compulsion I had as an infant. But now I don’t get told off for it.
What inspires you? What are your biggest influences?
Any artist who can maintain their artistic integrity. I love the story about how Rembrandt completely messed up his last big commission; his last chance to avoid ruin. He couldn’t just paint what the customer wanted and was expecting. No, he had to try and paint a masterpiece. It was rejected and he was declared bankrupt.
What’s the best thing about being an artist?
I spent most of my working life doing other jobs. They were all easier, less stressful and better paid than my career as an artist. But there must have been something missing, because I can’t see me going back to any of them. I don’t know what it is, but I get something out of painting that, even after considerable sacrifices, it all seems worthwhile.
What gives you the most joy?
It feels nice when I sell a painting. It’s not about the money. It’s the thought that you’ve created this thing, after lots of ups and downs, and still have niggling doubts right to the end. And then someone sees it, and likes it; likes it enough to part with some precious cash for it! That’s a good feeling.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
“Paint, paint, paint!”