A peripatetic childhood exposed Oscar Piccolo to a colourful array of cultures, textures and ideas from an early age. Born in Sicily in 1995, his family moved to Ghana when he was five, then on to Turkey, to Egypt, and back to Italy. The upheaval that might have been caused by this ever-changing landscape was mitigated by the consistency of their interiors; he remembers,
“The idea of home was maintained by taking the same pieces from place to place.”
Now based in London and student from Chelsea College of Arts, Piccolo has translated his vibrant swirl of inspirations into a collection of ceramics created in collaboration with Alex Eagle. The Portrait Plates are elegantly imperfect expressions of duality – each one a two-faced profile.
“I’ve always been interested in portraits, in recreating expressions,” Piccolo says. “I am quite intrigued in the notion of relating one to another – the relation between a man and a woman, woman and woman, man and man. That’s where the duality came into practice, the idea of two people connecting as one, seeing and feeling things together.”
Within the apparent simplicity of his plates swirl the myriad threads of Piccolo’s eclectic background. The colours and roughly hewn faces nod to Africa, while the use of ceramics as sculptural objects is a Sicilian tradition. In his wider practice, which encompasses sculpture, photography, furniture and short stories, Piccolo explores concepts that fascinated his heroes – Picasso, Naum Gabo and Luis Barrigán – and tries to express them in everyday objects such as lamps and chairs.
“I don’t necessarily see my work as solemnly art,” he says. “There’s a thin line between art and design and that’s what I am trying to explore.”
There is a lot more to come from Piccolo. “I definitely need to try multiple things to stay satisfied,” he says. “I don’t think I could stick to one particular medium. My process relates to that of a child playing, trying things, moving them again, dismantling and reassembling them. I like the materiality of things but love to see how they can develop in different formats.”