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Lisa Petrucci Interview

Publicado: 11/06/2007

Lissa Petrucci When was your interest in painting born?

Ever since I was a kid I've made art. My father is a commercial artist, so I'm sure that had something to do with it. I went to art school and started to paint while I was attending there.

You studied in several Art Schools. Do you believe that a proper trainning is necessary for the artist?

Absolutely not. I have a BA with a major in Art History and minor in Studio Art. But my formal education has so little to do with the art that I now make, but I'm glad that I went to school and had the whole collage experience. Majoring in Art History gave me a strong foundation to draw from. It really helps to look at alot of art, past and present. Most of what I learned about painting was from observing other artists I admired, as well as practice and experimentation, and being inspired by things that I enjoy looking at.

AmpliarLater on, you worked in galleries in New York, Boston and Maine before establishing in Seattle. How was that experience of introducing yourself in the world of art galleries?

Working as a gallerist showed me how the art gallery system operates. I got to see a lot of art, good and bad, over the years and learned the best way to promote oneself as an artist. The experience opened my eyes to how galleries perceive artists and how trends, movements and personal politics really do dictate what gets shown.

Let's focus on your work. I'd like you to briefly comment your influences on different levels. Let's start with the esthethics of pop and kistch cultures.

As artists, we each take our personal life experience and interests to our work. I am a child of the seventies and have a nostalgia for things I grew up around.So I collect alot of vintage dolls, comics and toys that now show up in my art. From years of going to thrift stores and flea markets I've amassed a huge collection of big eyed art, collectibles and tchachkes. Also vintage men's magazines, pin-up art, sexploitation films, and horror movies. In the early 1990s I started to make art that combined these things, and fortunately became acquainted with other artists like Robert Willimas, Anthony Ausgang, Todd Schorr and Isabel Samaras (to name a few) who were also producing nostalgic pop-influenced art. This was long before this type of art became known as "lowbrow."


On the other hand, your work is full of pin-up girls, sexy icons such as Vampira and winks to exploitation and sexploitation, such as Russ Meyer's "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!", whose protagonists, in fact, you have already painted.

Well I initially re-discovered vintage exploitation films around the same time I began collecting pin up art and girlie magazines. I've always been interested in horror and exploitation films and was definitely a child of the drive-in generation. My mother and her boyfriend would stick me in the back seat while they went to see movies like "Night of the Living Dead," "The Undertaker and His Pals," "The Corpse Ginders," and various other films that were totally inappropriate for a child to see. I've always used female models in my art, but was especially drawn to B-movie starlets and vintage pin-up girls which began appearing in my paintings in the late 1980s. So over the years, I have done a few paintings based on some of my favorite movies like Faster Pussycat Kill Kill, Straight-Jacket, and Spider Baby. I also love John Waters early movies and try to capture that colorful exuberance in my art.


We must also remark the presence of toys, cartoons and comics.

Many of the little gal characters in my paintings are loosely based on Liddle Kiddles dolls from the 1960s. I had these as a child, they were, and still are, my favorites. They were an important part of my childhood. I'm also inspired by Blythe, Furga's, Flatsy, Mod era Barbie, Dawn, and many other obscure dolls from the 1960s & 70s. I read comics as a child, mostly Wonder Woman, Josie & the Pussycats, Archie, and still continue to collect old copies of those. My favorite cartoon was Kimba the White Lion. The Lion King was actually based on it. Alot of the cute critters that I paint have Kimba-like qualities; big eyes and small bodies. I also watched all of the Sid & Marty Krofft shows like H.R. Pufnstuf,Lidsville and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Justice League of America, and Wacky Races. As a child I liked cartoons that featured female characters like Wonder Woman and Penelope Pitstop.

All that fits in the esthetic of rock bands such as The Cramps, Screaming Lord Sutch, B-52’s or The Birthday Party, one of the first bands of Nick Cave. What is the role that rockabilly or garage have in your work?

I think vintage pop culture overlaps and informs each other. It seems like if people are into one thing, they're often into the other.


I was surprised by the religious iconography of a work like "Naughty Nudie of Guadalupe".

I was asked to do a religiously inspired painting for an exhibition, so that's what I came up with. I am definitely interested in sacrilege and pushing people's buttons, but I was mostly interested in the tacky kitsch reference of presenting the Madonna as a pin-up.

In the webzine SeattleDreamHouses I saw your nice house, and I could check your passion for an specific type of collecting. I'd like to ask you about your great collection of dolls from the 60's and 70's.

I have a gigantic vintage doll collection in my office studio that is a constant source of inspiration and joy. I had many of these types of dolls as a girl, but didn't keep any of them. I collected the dolls as an adult, finding them at thrift stores, flea markets and ebay. Over the years I've met other gals my age who collect dolls too, so it's a fun hobby to share with others.

Which arts from nowadays do you like (cinema, television, music, literature, comic, etc)?

AmpliarI watch a lot of movies and television while working in my studio. I'm actuáis embarassed by what I will actually watch, but enjoy tv shows like 24, Lost, TheOffice, Ugly Betty. I also watch a lot of old dvds and television shows from the 1950s like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Perry Mason. I guess I have eclectic taste. I also listen to my cd collection which is a mixed bag of old and new rockabilly and garage mostly.

The biography in your web page says that your work celebrates femininity and sexuality. What can you say regarding this?

When I began making these paintings, there weren't very many avenues for women artists who were doing pin-ups or sexually charged art, especially in the "lowbrow" art movement. In the early days it was most definitely a boy's club, except for a few exceptions like Olivia. But alot has changed in the past 15 years though, due to a younger generation becoming aware of and embracing nostalgic popular culture - like the neo-burlesque and rockabilly scenes. And everybody knows who Bettie Page is now. This wasn't the case 10 years ago. As far as celebrating sexuality and femininity, that came from my wanting to present an alternative to the female-as-an-object-driven perspective of many male artists towards pin-up, and to bring a positive woman's point of view to the subject.


What kind of materials do you use at the time of painting?

I paint with liquid acrylic paint on wood plaques. Most of the wood plaques are vintage and originally had images decoupaged on them. I remove the images, sand them smooth and do my paintings. The wood palques seemed to be a good format for what I wanted to evoke and also reference to Americana, kitsch, and tradicional arts & crafts. The paintings are then varnished with a shiny epoxy called Envirotex, which makes them very jewel-like.

For the last few years, through important magazines such as "Juxtapoz", the terms Pop Surrealism and Lowbrow Art are being defined to refer to a group of North American independent artists with several elements in common. What do youthink regarding that term? Do you feel that you are a part of those movements?

As much as I don't like to label myself, I am most definitely a pop artist. Basically, lowbrow art is inspired by popular culture, especially retro trends in mid-century America, and there are now many galleries and publications promoting this sort of work. The term "Pop Surrealism" is more of an umbrella term. Perhaps by combining my subjects with decorative motifs and contradictory subjects (sexy pin-ups/ cute & childish imagery) that wouldn't ordinarily co-exist in the same space in reality, they could be considered surrealistic.


Which are the differences, in your opinion, between the traditional pop and nowadays pop art?

Traditional pop art was more cynical and objective, contemporary pop art is celebratory and personal.

Apart from painting, you are also the owner, together with your husband, of Something Weird Video. What can we find there?

Something Weird Video is a nostalgic mail order video company. We release obscure old exploitation films on dvd and license film for broadcast television. Our specialty is vintage sexploitation films like burlesque, nudie cuties, sexy shockers and other oddball subjects. Our website is

If you had to make illustrations for a tale or popular story, which one would you chose?

It would be fun to illustrate a Pippi Longstocking book!

This is all for today. If you would you like to add something, feel free to do so.

I am actually taking a break from painting this year to focus on Something Weird Video and other projects. I have a series of vinyl figures coming out with Dark Horse Deluxe this summer, and am working on a book proposal of my art. I'll be back painting and doing exhibitions in 2008, and am pleased to announce that I'll be doing a two-person show with Junko Mizuno at Mondo Bizzarro Gallery in Rome in November 2008.

Thank you very much Lisa, it has been an enormous pleasure.

You're most welcome!

Spanish version

Lorrwen en 18/08/2007

sois los mejores, séptimo vicio rules!

mnkdohue en 17/08/2007

séptimo vicio me la pone dura

Hasaan en 17/07/2007

séptimo vicio es lo mejor

Hasaan en 15/07/2007

estupenda entrevista

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