“Don’t worry,” – someone once told me – “the best is over.” It frightened me a little at first, but it must also have done me good, because after taking a degree in engineering and spending a few years in the marvelous world of technical things, Alessandro and I decided time was running short and that the moment had come to open our gallery. 2009 was the year of decisions, 2010 the year of the opening. An apartment on the first floor of a 1930s building, with intriguing views under the portici, was our first gallery, which in the span of a few years hosted 22 exhibitions. 2016 was the year of the move, still in the MAMbo zone, but although we relocated just 200 meters away, many things changed.
Much larger exhibition spaces, a staff that rapidly grew to the present roster of 8 people, and a program that has developed over time. While at the outset we focused above all on artists already active in the 1960s and 1970s who had developed a solid personal language but were still not widely known, later we also inserted many artists from more recent generations, always with particular regard for Italian talents, which constitute about 50% of our program.
“Exhibitions are a window onto the future, all it takes is a gallerist who can help you see it.”
Alessandro Pasotti and Fabrizio Padovani. Courtesy P420, Bologna. Photo: Carlo Favero
In conversation with Fabrizio Padovani, P420
Is there a way of being a gallerist in Italy that differs from other countries? Is there a specifically Italian approach to your work? What characterises the Italian art scene?
Being Italian never goes unnoticed, and, if we are talking about art, being Italian is at once both added value and a responsibility. Our tradition, taste and creativity are the fruit of centuries of culture and impossible to replicate anywhere else. Italians are born, not made.
What are your predictions for the future of the art world in your field? What is the biggest challenge that you will have to face?
Making predictions is the best way to get everything wrong from the get-go. I would instead start by considering that art is the most necessary in the category of useless things and throughout history we have never been able to do without it. There will always be demand for art. What we need to build is a sincere, solid market and an Italian art world that is more efficient and even more attentive to what makes us stand out.
What is the value for contemporary society of art on display in galleries? What is the role of the gallerist in Italy today?
It is natural to think that contemporary art has cultural value, but it is just as true – and maybe we think about this less – that the work of art galleries is of enormous value. Artists are always ahead of the masses in expanding the boundaries of our knowledge. Exhibitions are a window onto the future, all it takes is a gallerist who can help you see it.
What is your background?
At P420, Alessandro Pasotti and I both have a technical background, we are both engineers. I know, nobody is perfect. We told ourselves that it would be better that way. That it would let us have a totally independent point of view, unconditioned by habits, training, classifications. And that is exactly how it played out.
The name of your gallery is not eponymous. Tell us about how you chose it.
Before opening the gallery in 2010, we were mulling over the name with Maurizio Marinelli, a friend and communications expert. It took days and, in the end, we chose Pantone 420: a light grey colour that is tied to the art world in various ways. P is also the initial of our surnames. Years later, I learned that 420 is slang for smoking, and we do not smoke. But I thought it was cool and we kept it anyway.