Getting Real With Paint
Born to Italian parents, Mr. Marcello Petisci grew up in Belgium and currently lives in Brussles where he paints incredibly realistic, even hyper-realistic, art often with iconographic images of cars that he places in all possible states and situations. Before beginning to paint he examines the variables of the types of objects to be painted and paired with the car, the form of the main subject, and the overall composition of the piece. Each element in the painting is considered and then chosen for the space it occupies in relation to the other elements already in place. His art has a photographic, yet somehow, peaceful, surreal quality to it that is almost dreamlike.
Marcello was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his schedule to give us some insight into his work.
Q: What projects are you currently working on?
A: A series of cars immersed in swimming pools. For this series I am actively researching a different form, undulating movements, fluidity. I love how the water spontaneously curves ’round the bodywork of the cars.
Q: Was it hard to start your career as a painter?
A: It was more difficult to get the break that launched my career as a painter because I had a solid technical training. I had been an illustrator for several advertising agencies.
Q: What is your favorite subject?
A: Today I am increasingly interested in urban landscapes. At the moment I really love vast street scenes, even without cars. I used to paint still lifes and one day I added a miniature car to the tableau, which triggered everything that followed. I started to paint cars in all sorts of situations, some even quite odd. My approach to painting is rather playful but sometimes I like it to look more serious.
Q: How did your passion for painting and vintage cars begin?
A: As a child I was mesmerized by the snake on the Alfa Romeo logo. I used to go into the garage to look at it, as my father had an Alfa Romeo. I produced lots of sketches of the snake and also the car. When I was 10 years old all the sketches were sold for a charitable cause organised by the Italian Consulate or Embassy, I can’t remember which. Painting came much later. When I discovered hyperrealism I knew I wanted to do something like that.
Q: How did you develop your painting technique?
A: In the ’80s, airbrushing was a popular technique for advertising illustrations. When I gave up my career as an illustrator, I picked up the airbrush again to paint on canvas. Then, experimenting with all the available painting options, I began to use a brush and nowadays it is increasingly my tool of choice.
Q: Do you own or aspire to own a vintage car (and which one(s))?
A: It costs nothing to dream but a considerable amount to own a vintage car when you covet a rare model. So I’ll just have to dream I have a Lamborghini Miura in my garage. Maybe one day I’ll buy the more affordable 1968 Duetto.
Q: Do you have an all-time favorite car?
A: Mr. Enzo Ferrari said that the E-Type was the most beautiful car in the world, but was it his favourite? When you love cars it’s difficult to pick out a particular one as your favorite.
Q: So what is your favorite road?
A: When I was invited by the Automotive Fine Art Society to exhibit at Pebble Beach, I took the opportunity to drive to Palm Springs. I loved stopping over at the Horizon Hotel and driving ’round the city streets in search of the most beautiful 1950s houses. At that particular time, I would have loved to have been at the wheel of a Shelby Cobra but, fortunately, having my wife as travel companion made up for not driving this magnificent car.
Q: As an artist, when you look at a car what do you see?
A: If I don’t see what I want to see, I don’t look at it. I view cars with great nostalgia. A car’s line and shape speaks volumes about the period in which it was built. For me the ideal image is the night shot of Steve McQueen in his Jaguar XKSS taken in the early ’60s on Sunset Boulevard. It captures the mood of the era.
Q: Where do you like or would you like to see your art displayed most?
A: Alongside Edward Hopper’s “Gas Station” at the MoMA. This painting really does pull at my heartstrings. If I ever manage to paint like that, I can put down my brush and move onto something else.
Q: What is your favorite era of motorsport?
A: The ’20s and ’30s when anyone, who had the money of course, could buy a Bugatti T35, take part in all sorts of crazy competitions and rub shoulders with Nuvolari.
Q: Is there a classic that you’d like to redesign for production today?
A: The Duetto, but it’s already been done. I can’t wait to see the result on the roads when it comes out.
To see more of Marcello’s work, click here.