Artist Spotlight: Alessandro Gallo

You may remember Alessandro Gallo’s work from the 2017 exhibition Tempered Beasts at NCC, one of the many exhibitions and collections featuring his work around the globe or from the 2018 NCECA Conference where he was a demonstrating artist. NCC is excited to welcome this world-renowned artist to the McKnight Ceramic Artist Residency, where he will be working to complete sculptures for an upcoming solo exhibition at Abmeyer + Wood in Seattle. While in residence, Gallo is excited to contribute to the NCC community. He says, “Northern Clay Center provides a great working environment and a dynamic community to immerse myself in, exchange energy, ideas, inspiration, and the focus necessary to complete all my projects in the best possible way."

Gallo represents the silent life of his surroundings and the stories of people inhabiting them by creating human/animal hybrids. He employs the animal head as an expressive tool, something between a mask and a caricature that exaggerates inner features. By combining it with the silent language of our body and the cultural codes of fashion, he portrays not only specific individuals, but also the larger groups and subcultures they belong to and, ultimately, the common habitat we all share. Specifically, Gallo makes note of how animals display behavioral patterns and biological features that can be extended metaphorically to humans. He explains, “Donkeys are stubborn, eagles are noble, pigs are greedy. Chameleons can rotate their eyes independently allowing them to observe in all directions with minimal movement, a perfect quality for an opportunistic hunter.”

Gallo is never shy about the inherent humor in his work: “All languages are full of idioms involving animals such as ‘sitting duck,’ ‘monkey business,’ ‘culture vulture,’ ‘rat race,’ and many more.”

Gallo was born in Genoa, Italy, and is now based in Helena, Montana. After studying law at the University of Genoa, he earned a BA at Chelsea College of Art in London. While studying painting, he began experimenting with digital photography, manipulating images to create scenes of animals in familiar city settings. By 2005, he decided to give his creatures a physical presence by sculpting them in clay. Gallo and his anthropomorphic characters have received widespread recognition, with his works being featured in the 237th Annual Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. In 2012, he received a first place grant from the Virginia A. Groot Foundation. In 2014 and 2016, he had solo exhibitions at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York