Born in Turin in 1927, Alessandri started making lino-cut prints at the age of thirteen, and within two years began oil painting. After World War II, he studied life-drawing with Giovanni Guarlotti, and opened his first studio, the Soffitta Macabra (Macabre Attic).
By the mid-1950s, Alessandri had founded a periodical entitled La Candela (The Candle) and added the etching technique to his prodigious repertoire. In 1964, he launched the Surfanta art movement, which was accompanied by an eponymous arts magazine that served to showcase the movement’s surreal esotericism and fantastical imagery. Based on his experiences in the Soffitta Macabra, followed by La Candela, and finally the Surfanta movement, Alessandri propagated a fantastical, visionary artistic genre in 1960s Turin – a universe full of allegory and metaphor, contradictions and absurdities, interpreted with a crackling, satirical energy. In the early 1970s, Lorenzo Alessandri relocated to Giaveno, where he began creating colourfully decorative silk-screen prints, and continued to work prolifically until his death there in 2000.
Concetta Leto, the artist’s official biographer, notes that “Parallels have been drawn between his art and that of Bosch, Bruegel, the Flemish painters, and the Romantic and Surrealist movements; although some similarities cannot be ignored, the originality of Alessandri’s art, which makes him one of the greatest Italian artists of the 20th century, cannot be denied.”
Alessandri held dozens of solo exhibitions and participated in more than 300 group exhibitions in Italy and abroad. His graphic art can be seen at the GAM (Gallery of Modern Art) in Turin, the Royal Cabinet of Prints in Brussels, the Museo della Xilografia Italiana (Museum of Italian Engravings) in Carpi, and in the Yale University Library. Thanks to the generous donation of numerous works by Alessandri’s widow, Dina Foppa (who was also his assistant, and presently executor of his estate), there are well-developed plans to open a new museum dedicated to his oeuvre in Giaveno.
Alleyne started his professional life in the visual arts as a lithographic technician before moving into design as layout artist, finished artist, illustrator, art director and ultimately creative director. The precision and attention to detail required for these roles is still clearly evident in his work, and are exercised in unrepentant defiance of the craft sensibility so often associated with the fine and decorative arts.
He trained in part under Rob O’Connor at his renowned Stylo Rouge studio, which specialised in design for the music industry. This complemented Alleyne’s personal involvement in that world, as by that time he had formed several groups and later recorded for labels such as the revered él Records. Alleyne experienced the digital revolution as a revelation, releasing him from what he describes as “the monotony of hyper-realism.” Finding the possibilities of 3D computer imaging particularly appealing, he specialised in the field for some years, working in the video games industry, product design and prototyping, and architectural visualisation.
He cites as his earliest influences Michael English, Powell & Pressburger, Heartfield, David Lean, Vargas, Bellmer, The Beatles, Saul Bass, Dadaism, MJQ, Alan Aldridge, Surrealism, Glam Rock – and the profound immersion in counter-culture common to “a particular stripe of rebellious, 1970s teenager.”
For the most part, Alleyne’s commercial design work has revolved around the worlds of fashion and rock and roll. As he explains, these overlapping orbits have frequently enabled him to "shoehorn a little artistry into what might otherwise have been mere process.” His recent work for print takes his experience with form, colour and precision and combines these elements into compelling and appealing visual contemplations.
Following a brief stint at Italia Conti’s Academy of Theatre Arts, Sarah studied Fine Art at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London’s Notting Hill in the early 1980s, where she found herself at the heart of the last great wave of British youth tribes – centred around Portobello, the West End and Kensington.
Passing on her way to and from the Byam Shaw, Gregory was drawn to Kensington Market, and the alternative style Mecca quickly became her spiritual home. “It’s where I met everyone and where everyone wanted to be,” she says. It was also the perfect playground for bright young things with a taste for vintage kitsch, tragic heroines (on and off the screen), twisted fairy tales and cheesecake – themes that recur in her work to this day.
Besides her own adventures as a musician (fronting Repetition, Allez Allez and chart act Kino), her superb portraits of other musical artists such as Nico and Caron Wheeler led to commissions for record sleeves and an enduring, parallel career as make-up artist to the stars.
Steadfastly refusing to remain static, Sarah has recently extended her repertoire and studied the art of tattooing, becoming a notable practitioner, with high-profile clients such as Boy George and “terrorist” drag queen Christeene Vale very much wearing her heart on their sleeves . . .
“I suppose the garish graphics, the lighting, and above all the amazing sound of the video-game machines I encountered in the arcades as a kid had the same impact jukeboxes must have had on my parents’ generation,” says Alkan Hassan. Even when still in primary school, he would hang around the arcades on his way home every day. “I didn’t have money to play the machines, but I’d watch the older kids play for hours. There was a sense of danger and of the forbidden,” he says. “The older kids swore, smoked and played the Manga-style fighting games popular at the time. It was a powerful, entirely immersive experience – and I guess it was my introduction to the arts.”
Alkan was born in south London to Cypriot parents. The Hassans were a hard-working, traditionally-minded family whose business revolved around the rag trade. “The culture was distinctively ‘London Turkish’ – and any sign of artistic leaning was met with disinterest,” he laughs.
Barely out of his teens, following a stint as a games tester in the burgeoning console games industry, Alkan escaped to the south coast, where he took up a job as a game designer (then, as now, an entirely technical, non-artistic role). “But my time as a tester had reassured me of how important the visual aspects of the medium were to me,” he reflects, “and had given me the urge to create my own imagery.”
The answer came as a reaction to the rise of a phenomenon parallel to console gaming – that of social media. “All of a sudden, due to the advancement of camera technology in mobile phones, there was a ready supply of emerging online images that had a coarse, unflattering, I don't know – digital? – appearance. At the same time, scans of traditional photographic prints started to appear on the same websites. The aesthetic contrast was like day and night. I really wanted to know what made the scans of analogue images so much more satisfying than their digital counterparts. Ironically, it was the analytical, critical aspects of my ‘day job’ that enabled me mentally to reverse-engineer the pictures and determine what – for me, at least – constituted a pleasing image.”
Robert Taylor Agasucci
An experienced graphic designer of exceptional talent, Agasucci died shortly after being diagnosed with cancer at the age of only 54 - just as he was embarking on the next, trans-formative stage of his career in the arts.
Robert was born in 1960 and grew up in Stone, Staffordshire. His vivid imagination and artistic abilities were evident from early on, and he later honed his skills with a BA (Hons) Degree in Visual Communications - specialising in Graphic Design and Illustration at Wolverhampton Polytechnic. His main artistic influences included Symbolism, Surrealism and Outsider Art. During this period, his passions for music and cinema were also ignited - and his enduring passion for film is evidenced elsewhere in this site by the meticulously executed re-imaginings of movie posters created for the informal, ad hoc film clubs he and his closest associates held at various venues, particularly in his later years.
Moving from Wolverhampton to London in the early 1980s, he worked as an art director, designer, visualiser and illustrator - both as a freelancer and in-house at several major companies. For more than three decades, Robert designed for numerous and wildly diverse clients - yet his work was unified and distinguished by his perfectionism and fine grasp of new technologies, which he followed assiduously. Known for his keen intelligence, Robert was also a prolific reader - particularly of ancient history, evolution, mythology, magick and mysticism - leading him to establish his own publishing company - Imaginary Books - in 2011.
During his last days he voiced his one regret; that fate had not granted him the opportunity to become a "fully-fledged fine artist", and that he had only participated in one group exhibition, earlier in 2015. Nevertheless, and somewhat poignantly, at the 2016 memorial exhibition of his works held at The Horse Hospital, Bloomsbury - every exhibit sold. Agasucci’s later works - some reproduced here in the posthumous print editions authorised by his estate - bear witness to his visionary imagination, his love of 'the dark' and the transformative nature of his art.