Paola Pivi’s artistic practice is diverse and enigmatic. Her oeuvre appears to have been formed through multiple creative minds. Art with a view at The Bass presents new work by the artist, as well as Pivi’s anthropomorphic, feather-covered polar bears; canvases of cascading pearls; video showing fish in flight on a passenger jet; and a 65-foot inflatable ladder. Each piece poses questions and is defined by its openness to interpretation, through the appropriation of cultural symbols.
In 1997, as a student, Paola Pivi placed a truck on its side as part of the exhibition Fuori Uso (Pescara, Italy). Two years later, she installed an upside-down G-91 fighter jet in the Venice Biennale’s Arsenale, helping Italy win the coveted Golden Lion award for best national pavilion. In subsequent years, she has invited horses to the Eiffel Tower and a leopard to roam amongst cappuccino cups—documenting the experience through photography.
Such ambitious and spectacular acts have come to define her art. These gestures are about freedom. They deliver unexpected visuals, which surprisingly also appear to be familiar. Nomadic by nature, Paola Pivi has lived in many unexpected places in the world, including the remote island of Alicudi in southern Italy, India, and Anchorage, Alaska. Pivi first exhibited at Viafarini in Milan in 1995, the same year she enrolled in the Brera Academy of Art in Milan.
In 2012, the artist was commissioned to create two original public artworks in New York City: “How I roll”, a project by Public Art Fund, a Piper Seneca airplane lifted on its wingtips and constantly rotating forward, installed near Central Park at Doris C. Freedman Plaza, and Untitled (zebras), a striking image of zebras on a snow-covered mountaintop on the 25-by-75-foot High Line Billboard at West 18th Street. Like all of her photographs, this image is a live-action still, presented without digital intervention. Another of her photographs, Untitled (donkey), shows a lonely donkey on a boat floating in the Mediterranean Sea. Pivi is included in the permanent collections of The Guggenheim Museum and the Centre Pompidou.