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Robert Pettena

Born in Penbury (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-traveller probing the wonders and inconsistencies of the world, seizing conflicting aspects of reality in a manner both poetic and a 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 a potential and an 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, 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 centre 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.

Solo Exhibition: 2021 Robert Pettena, “Tivoli Gardens”, Aknoon Art Gallery, Isfahan, Iran; 2020 Robert Pettena, “Un-Mappable Zones”, Aknoon Art Gallery, Isfahan, Iran. 2019 “No Compulsion”, curated by Mike Watson, Galleria Rankka, Helsinki, Finland. “So Close So Far” by Robert Pettena, curated by Suburbia Contempary Art,  Artsy.net 2017 “Hunting the Baron”, Suburbia Contemporary; “Wine Underpants”, Cantieri Aperti, Massa; 2016 “L’Enigma di Nobel”, curated by Valentina Gensini, Le Murate Progetti Arte Contemporanea, Firenze; “Robert Pettena: Noble Explosion”, SACI Gallery, Firenze; 2014 “Robert Pettena Noble Explosion”, curated by Marco Pierini, Galleria Civica, Modena; 2012 “Nobel Explosion & anti-hail rockets”, curated by Marina Sorbello, Uqbar Project Space, Berlin; “Jungle Bar”, text by Gabi Scardi, Sponda, Galleria d’Arte Contemporanea – Fabio Tiboni, Bologna; 2011 “Il Teatro dell’opera”, Robert Pettena, curated by Sergio Risaliti, Teatro Studio, Scandicci; “Zabriskie Point Reloaded”, curated by Emily Barsi, Rhizomatic Project Space, Amsterdam, NL; “Rites and Rythms”, curated by Emily Barsi, Galleria Studio Gennai, Pisa; “Sound of Noise”, Happening: 35 drummers in via Martelli, Firenze; 2010 “Noble Explosion”, curated by Emily Barsi & P.E Antognoli Viti, Lucca; “Underground” curated by Matteo Chini, Studio Gum, Carrara; 2009 “Robert Pettena”, curated by Michyo Myake, Waseda University, Tokyo (JP); “Alla conquista dell’inutile”, curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi, Museo Marino Marini, Firenze; 2008 “Second Escape”, curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi, Palazzo Banci Buonamici, Prefettura, Teatro Metastasio, Palazzo Vaj, Dryphoto arte contemporanea, Prato; 2007 “Under Observation” #3, curated by Angelo Bianco, Fondazione SoutHeritage per l’arte contemporanea, Matera; 2006 “Under Observation #2”, curated by Angelo Bianco, Fondazione SoutHeritage per l’arte contemporanea, Matera; 2005 “Passages”, curated by Sergio Risaliti, Quarter. Centro produzione arte, Firenze; 2003 “L’impero colpisce ancora”, curated by Lorenzo Bruni, Fondazione Lanfranco Baldi, Pelago; 2002 “Cronaca”, curated by Arabella Natalini and Sergio Risaliti, Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze; “Pentagon Play”, curated by Mike McGee, Main Art Gallery, Cal State University,Fullerton, CA (USA); 2000 “Once Again in Your Bones”, Limonaia di Villa Vogel, Firenze; “What is he Building in There?”, Visioni & Visioni, curated by Giancarlo Cauteruccio and Colomba d’ Appolito, Parterre, Firenze; “And Dance Around in Your Bones”, curated by Daniele Perra, Galleria Interno & Dum Dum, Bologna; “Osmos”, curated by Marco Bazzini, Ex Oratorio della Croce, Pistoia; 1999 “Crepitulum”, curated by Arabella Natalini, Galleria La Corte Arte Contemporanea, Firenze; “Robert Pettena”, curated by Beatrice Lomurno, Galleria STAProject, Firenze.

Group Exhibition: 2021 “Urban Environment and Imaginary Spaces”, curated by Francesco Ozzola, Barcelona; “Maratona di visione”, curated by Alberto Ceresoli, Bergamo; “Polka puttana”, curated Matteo Coluccia and Gabriele Tosi, at Firenze, Abetone, Roma, Bologna, Mondello; 2020 “Surrondings”, curated by Suburbia Contemporary Art, at Satellite Project Space, Firenze; “Super cavalli”, by Super Summer Extra Pomeriggio, curated by Stefano Giuri, at TOAST Project Space, Firenze; 2019 “Michelangelo Consani”, Museo d’Inverno, Siena; “Voodoo Child” (Eternal Return), curated by Mike Watson, Kulttuuritalo Valve, Oulu, Finland; “A4”, curated by Sergio Risaliti, Benci House, Firenze; 2018 “Grotesque Games”, We Have Nearly Lost Control, curated by Mike Watson, Macro Asilo, Roma; “TAI – Tuscan” Art Industry 2018, curated by Chiara Bettazzi, Prato; “The Door”, Politics of Dissonance, curated by Mike Watson, collateral events Manifesta12, Palermo; 2017 “Antiuniversity Now”, Art Class War,  curated by Mike Watson, The White Building, London; “La Fine del Mondo”, curated by Paolo Toffolutti, Meštrović Pavilion, Prsten Gallery, Zagreb; “De Academia”, curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi, Accademia di Belle Arti, Firenze; 2016 “Art Class War”, curated by Mike Watson, Fondazione Pastificio Cerere, Roma; “Dryer”, curated by Gabriele Tosi, LocaleDue, Art Verona 2016, Verona; “Camera Chiara”, Uffizi live, Galleria degli Uffizi, Firenze; “The Naked Age”, La galleria d’arte contemporanea GAGLIARDI e DOMKE, Torino; “NoPlace 3” – 49° Premio Suzzara, Galleria del Premio Suzzara, Suzzara; “MINIPIMER”, LOCALEDUE, curated by Gabriele Tosi, Bologna; “In-Memori”. Artisti e memoria industriale, curated by Carles Marco, Montevarchi Arte, Maggio del Contemporaneo 2016, Montevarchi; 2015 “Jump into the UnKnown”, Future Rhythms, curated by Mike Watson, SaLE Docks, side events 56a Biennale Internazionale d’Arte di Venezia; “Florenz Contemporary”, curated by Angelika Stepken Embassy of Italy, Berlin; “The Eternal Internet Brother/Sisterhood”, curated by Angelo Plessas, Castello Malaspina, Fosdinovo; “Io vedo, io guardo”, Novella Guerra, curated by Annalisa Cattani, Artforms e Studio MDT, Prato; “Indigestum”, curated by Mariangela Calisti, Palazzo Bottigella Gandini, Pavia Fine is Art, Center Chrome, Firenze; “The Wall” (archives) #10, curated by Pietro Gaglianò, ASSAB ONE, Milano; “Refresh”, curated by di Gabriele Tosi, Localedue, Bologna; “Passaggi”, Casa Masaccio, San Giovanni Valdarno, Arezzo; 2014 “Io vedo, io guardo”, curated by Annalisa Cattani, Novella Guerra, Imola; “Project Room” – Scultura, curated by Francesca Cattoi, Federica Forti e Eleonora Acerbi, CAMEC, La Spezia; “INSIDE_OUT”, curated by Mariangela Calisti, Palazzo Bottigella Gandini, Pavia; “Doppio Passo” Incontri di Arte e Letteratura, curated by Maria Ida Gaeta, Casa delle Letterature, Roma; 2013 “Incontri ad Eèa”, curated by Federica Forti, Alessandro Buganza ed Ezster Csillag, Frontone, Ponza; “Past Forward”, curated by Alessandro Romanini, Fondazione Centro Arti Visive, Pietrasanta; “Joan of Art”: Towards a Free Education, curated by Mike Watson, MACRO, Roma; “Acqua, Arte Contemporanea”, curated by Carles Marco, Vivaio Cioncolini, Montevarchi; “Antologia di un progetto”, Galleria Biagiotti Progetto Arte, Firenze; “The Wall (archives) 8”, curated by Pietro Gaglianò, B.go Loreto/SP e CRAC Centro Ricerca Arte Contemporanea, Cremona; “ENERGIA (E=MC2)”, curated by Cristina Olivieri, Fuel Art Gallery, Livorno; “ConTesto, non contesto”, curated by di M. F. Pepi, Parco di Montelisi, Crespina, Pisa; “Works on paper”, curated by Sibilla Ferrara, Bigodinofont & Makingthinkshappen, Berlin; 2012 “The Stones are My Ideas of Imagination”, curated by di Mike Watson, Museo Civico del Marmo, Carrara; “Madeinfilandia”, Valdarno Pergine, Loc. La Filanda, (AR); “Minimun One Day exhibition”, curated by Dry Photo, via delle Segherie 33, Prato; “Recenti acquisizioni”, Casa Giovanni Mannozzi, San Giovanni Valdarno, (AR);
“M M M M M M M”, curated by Angelo Bianco, Castello del Malconsiglio, Miglionico, (MT); “Anno del Drago”, curated by Vittoria Ciulini, Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato; “Cartabianca Firenze”, curated by Silvia Cini, Museo Villa Croce, Genova; “Italianitudine”, Spac, Villa di Toppo Florio, Butrio (UD); “Terribilità e vaghezza”, curated by Lucia Giardino, Villa Bertelli, Forte dei Marmi; “Voglio soltanto essere amato”, curated by Gabi Scardi e Ruth Cats, EX3, Firenze; “Ricomincio da te, la partita finisce e il gioco ricomincia”, curated by Paolo Toffolutti, Teatro nuovo Giovanni da Udine, Udine; 2011
“Voglio soltanto essere amato”, curated by Gabi Scardi e Ruth Cats, MAGA, Gallarate; “Time to be green”, curated by Federica Bianconi, nerocuboproject, MART, Rovereto; “In Libertà – Libri d’artista”, curated by Studio Gennai, Pisa; “Moving”, curated by Vittoria Ciolini, DryPhoto Arte Contemporanea, Prato; “99,999999999999 %”, curated by Namsal Siedlecki, GUM, Carrara; “Beyond the Line, Shameless, Private Flat #7”, curated by Alessandro Gallicchio, Alessandra Acocella e Elena Magini, Firenz; “Dov’è la città? Where is the city?”, curated by Lorenzo Bruni, Studio SUN, Firenze; “The Wall (archives) #3”, project by Pietro Gaglianò, NOSADELLA, Bologna; “The Wall (archives) #2”, project by Pietro Gaglianò, RELOAD, ROMA.

Workshop: 2016 Industrial Archeology Lost and Found, Dipartimento di Comunicazione e Didattica dell’Arte, Accademia di Belle Arti Palermo; 2012 Speaking to walls, Live Sessions, ROBERT PETTENA MEETS WITH LOCAL QUARRYMEN, curated by Mike Watson, Museo del marmo, Carrara; 2006 Qui si vola, curated by Matteo Chini, Rizziconi; Arezzo Wave. Territori di Confine. Contaminazione tra arti visive e suono nel contemporaneo. Facoltà di lettere e filosofia di Arezzo, curated by Matilde Martinetti and Francesco Marmorini, Arezzo; Officine dell’Umbria 2006, curated by Maurizio Coccia and Mara Predicatori, Ex mattatoio, Trevi; 2004 Decibel meet, Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milano; Studio Talks, curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi, Via della Chiesa, Firenze; 2000
SACI International Studio Gallery Art Centers, Firenze.

Conference 2021 Talk “Botanica Temporanea, from planning to participation. The garden as a community practice”, Manifattura Tabacchi, Firenze; 2020 La meraviglia TALKS/ Robert Pettena, Manifattura Tabacchi, Firenze; 2015 Forum dell’arte contemporanea italiana, Prato; 2008 Sopralluoghi, curated by Valentina Gensini, Accademia di Belle Arti, Firenze; 2007 RelazionArti. L’arte e le nuove dimensioni relazionali, Accademia di Belle Arti, Roma. Mercanti di Spezie; La zona d’ombra, Accademia di Belle Arti, Firenze; 2004
La zona D’ombra  “Different ways to be creative and new channels of information”  Robert Pettena: Mercanti di Spezie, Accademia di Belle Arti of Florence; 2004  Lectures on Video, given at  the Accademia di Belle Arti, Brera, Milano.

Artist residence: 2017 Wine underpants, curated by Daria Filardo, Cantieri Aperti, organized by Semi Cattivi, Borgo del Ponte di Massa; 2015 The Eternal Internet Brother/Sisterhood, curated by Angelo Plessas, Castello Malaspina, Fosdinovo; 2013 Incontri a Eèa, Frontone Village, Ponza; 2011 Artist in residence,  Rhizomatic , Amsterdam, NL; 2002 California University, Orange County, Usa.

Grotesque Games curated by Mike Watson, Macro Asilo, Roma.2018
Grotesque Games - We Have Nearly Lost Control, curated by Mike Watson, Macro Asilo, Roma. 2018