Italian artist Alo has become a regular on London streets over the past two years. His abstract portraiture having become well known to followers of the street art scene and having already won him many admirers.
Now a show at the Saatchi Gallery represents a real breakthrough moment for the quiet artist who came to Britain in order to be at the heart of the urban art scene. Titled ‘Hail to the Loser’ he has created over 40 original works which will hang in the gallery. Starting on Tuesday 29th July 2014 it will last approximately two weeks, finally closing on 18th August. It represents a busy time for the artist who, after the launch, will then head straight to Berlin to paint two walls for the high profile Urban Nation event.
I first met Alo just over a year ago and that was very brief, his art had been popping up all over the place and he’d been invited to paint the front of the Bear Gallery on Great Eastern Street. At the time his English was basic and we weren’t able to have long conversation so it is a testament to the man that the second time I meet him over a year later we were able to have a good conversation. That time he was taking part in a collaboration with model maker and photographer Roys People who himself was taking part in an Inspiring City interview.
“Life is strange” he tells me when I ask about how the Saatchi opportunity came along. Coming from the Italian city of Perugia he first came to England 3 years ago and his journey has been impressive. “I moved to London to make art, I liked the street art scene. I think London is a very good place to make art nowadays…the street art scene is much bigger than Italy’s and it fascinates me.”
Alo’s style is unique and immediately identifiable but he says that he is never able to really describe his style “I need to paint people, characters of the reality I live, it’s like a research into a human being’s feelings and troubles.” He uses the same technique each time but each character still has it’s own personality. Dotted around the East End his work can be seen “I like the idea to do something for everyone” he says “something not sellable”.
His views on street art are forthright.. “I think anyone has the right to paint walls” he says, “overcoming the so called ‘experts’ who are supposed to decide who’s an artists and who’s not.” Yet at the Saatchi, it will be the ‘experts’ who will end up judging his work, it’s a big step up but it’s one that’s been given with the support of art insiders who have obviously seen something special in this quiet abstract street painter.
For the show he will have created more than 40 original works all portraying characters. A huge gallery of everyday people seen through Alo’s eyes. They will all be bright and all be colourful “I think colour is the strongest weapon to express inner feelings” he tells me. The work will be characterised by a strong colour palette and fans of his outdoor work will see a more complex approach adopted.
Alo’s influences range from German expressionism with it’s bright colour contrasts to African Art. “I grew up surrounded by books of African art and I think those unknown artists are geniuses” he tells me. His third big influence is the concept of street art itself explaining that he likes the idea of the artist taking back the spaces we live in for the purpose of creation. When Alo explains these influences I find myself understanding his art more. I can see how the combination of expressionism and african art works and when you put in on the street, how the three fuse together.
Alo was interviewed over email prior to his show Hail to the Loser will show in the Edition and Print Gallery at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea from 29th July to 18th August. His Saatchi online store can be found here
For more Inspiring City posts featuring the work of Alo try:
Hail to the Loser Gallery