As the entertainment industrial complex manufactures celebrities on seemingly a daily basis, cultural icons of yesteryear fade into society's collective memory. It seems that none of us are immune to the trudging, linear progression of time. But Brazilian artist Christian Pierini is on a mission to preserve and celebrate his idols, through elaborate collaged portraits that incorporate an eclectic mix of found objects.
Celebrated rock innovator Frank Zappa gets realistically rendered through a carefully placed set of musical instruments, equipment, and auxiliary cables: a calculated homage to his work as a musician. Stan Lee, often considered the most influential comic book writer in history, comes to life through hundreds of issues of Marvel comics, becoming a visual embodiment of his own repertoire.
Beyond international stars, Pierini has a predilection for his Brazilian roots, frequently portraying legends like Bossa Nova singer Elis Regina (made of vinyl discs and audio speakers), pedagogical philosopher Paulo Freire (manifested in an arrangement of didactic school books), as well as Renato Russo, the late singer of punk rock band Legião Urbana (unsurprisingly forged from musical instruments, as well).
The selections may seem arbitrary, and to a certain extent they are. "The way I choose the icons I portray has a lot to do with my own personal taste," the artist tells Creators. "But I also try to recreate a cultural memory of important icons that have faded away over time thanks to current cultural industries. In a way, my work deals directly with programmed obsolescence, in both the technical sense and the cultural sense. Different cultural industries try to push new icons, but in my opinion, they are sort of 'hyped-up' often without offering much content."
If Pierini's portraits seem familiar, don't be surprised. He previously worked for Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, best known for his own use of found objects as the raw materials for his trademark style of portraiture, often employing ephemeral items like chocolate and sugar, as opposed to Pierini's more durable materials.
This work experience ended up having a very formative effect on Pierini's practice. "After having worked as an assistant for Muniz, who uses an innumerable amount of interesting materials, I decided to use the leftover materials I had lying around to craft my own connections between material and representation," the artist says. "Since this experience, I've been collecting materials often related to music and technology and have been using them to monumentalize the icons I choose to represent."