Born in Pembury (UK) in 1970, Robert Pettena spent a large part of his youth and adolescence between Brixton (London) and San Giovenale (Reggello, Italy). In 1990 he moved to Florence, where he attended the Accademia di Belle Arti.
Robert Pettena is an artist-cum-traveler probing the wonders and inconsistencies of the world, seizing conflicting aspects of reality in a manner both poetic and provocative. Alongside photography, video-art, and installations, his work includes performances and site-specific projects involving other players besides himself, often hailing from the artistic underground in which Pettena has identified potential and energy that he transfers and channels into a variety of situations, sparking a short-circuit in his audience’s senses. His art can be both massive and “destructive”, like his excavation inside the Gum studio in Carrara, or minimal, like his insertion of a record player into the desolate panorama of the artificial lake of Santa Barbara, entitled Alla Conquista dell’ inutile [Conquering the Pointless].
He has taken part in numerous collective exhibitions both in Italy and abroad, including: Watou Poëziezomer 2001 Een lege plek om te blijven, curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi and Ann Demeester, Watou (Belgium) 2001; Palazzo delle Libertà, curated by Lorenzo Fusi and Marco Pierini, Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena, 2003; Fuori uso, curated by Luca Beatrice, Pescara 2004; The Food Show: The Hungry Eye, curated by Robert G. Edelman and Gina Fiore, Chelsea Art Museum, New York (USA) 2006; Pan Screening, Art Radio Live, WPS1. ORG Broadcasts, Biennale di Venezia, Venice 2007; Rites de Passage, curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi, Schunck, Glaspaleis, Heerlen, Netherlands 2009, and Jump into the UnKnown, Future Rhythms curated by Mike Watson, a side event of the 56th Biennale Internazionale d’Arte of Venice 2015, and Florenz Contemporary, curated by Angelika Stepken Embassy of Italy, Berlin 2015. A sweeping anthological exhibition of his work was held in several different sites in the historic center of Prato in 2008: Second Escape, curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi. His most recent personal exhibitions in 2014 include: Robert Pettena Noble Explosion, curated by Marco Pierini, Galleria Civica of Modena; and in 2016: L’Enigma di Nobel curated by Valentina Gensini, PAC, Florence. 2017 Hunting the Baron Suburbia Contemporary.