Born in Milan in 1980, Teo Pirisi aka Moneyless has been doing research and investigation for years on different aspects of shapes and geometrical spaces as a visual artist. After graduating at Carrara Fine Arts Academy (multimedia course), Teo attended a postgraduate course in Communication Design at Isia (Florence). At the same time he developed an individual artistic career that brought his artworks into public spaces as well as abandoned spots. Teo is a graphic designer and a freelance illustrator as well; for a while now, he’s been doing several collective and personal exhibitions in Italy and around the world.
I connected with Teo via facebook and he accepted to answer few questions I had for him, and below is how it went down.
Hey Teo how is it going? For people that don’t know you or your work, could you give them a little bit of background?
hi folks all good from Italy! I’m Born in Milan in 1980. My name is Teo Pirisi aka Moneyless. I studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara and then attended a masters in design of communication in Florence. I’ve been painting in the streets since 1994.
For years I’ve been doing research and investigation on different aspects of shapes and geometrical spaces as a visual artist. I’ve started with graffiti when I was 14 until 22, then I’ve decided to get free of the letters and look for my personal artistic journey.
My theme is abstract, sometimes more geometric and static and other times more dynamic and instinctive. What it’s important for me is to let the audience think freely, I never want to convey a certain message in my works, but I try to make the audience curious about any possible meaning or interpretation.
My early abstract works date back to 2004. At that time I had a geometric style, very linear. I painted solid wire frames with multiple visions. From these kinds of drawings I arrived to the installations (2006) with wool that were the 3D version of my drawings. I’ve worked with installations for years.
The other phase started as an evolution of my previous works, when I’ve started painting circumferences (2012) and made them move on axes in order to create a certain dynamism. The same dynamism I had found in the installations but not in painting before. From this to what I do now I explored a phase of destruction of the circumference (2014) and a phase of zoom (2015) (something like a zoom into the old works). Now I’m working in iron sculptures, formed by parts of circumference.
Do you recall your first memories on your interests in art?
It all started on my bedroom wall. When I was three years old, my parents allowed me to draw on my bedroom wall as a compromise, because if I drew on the wall, I would leave the rest of the apartment alone. And since then I have no recollection without a marker or a brush in my hand.
A lot of street artists started as graffiti writers, then developed their styles and became street artists/muralists. How was it for you starting up and what took you to the streets?
At the beginning of my artistic journey, when I was a writer, the hip hop culture has a huge affect on me. So my first street intervention was deeply influence by hip hop. But as I grew up, I realized I couldn’t confine myself within a single subculture, so I changed my views on the world.
Is Moneyless your nickname? If yes, is there a meaning behind that nickname?
I’ve always tried to create art without great expense (hence the name Moneyless). I always looked for my working tools among industrial and scrap materials. I love working with my hands and getting them dirty. I’m not that kind of artist with soft and smooth hands, you know!?
So, for example, I’ve used wool yarn and fishing line for my installations, and then I’ve started making special tools for drawing on wall such as massive compasses or rulers. My creative process is spontaneous and always related to what I live and see in the natural world. These aspects are always at the centre of my need of painting. I try to bring into the painting my idea of a natural element which has struck me before.
Some artists claim that street art and graffiti fall under the umbrella of illegal work, while murals are more commissioned, therefor legal and understood as painting. Do you agree with these distinctions or not? And why?
Of course graffiti is illegal. It is made for that. I think that every era of our history had people that made art in the street. If you think about churches in the past, or public sculpture and architecture back in the days, for me this is already street art! So from the beginnings of the history till now it was street art, and from the 70s till now, it was graffiti. And that’s my point of view.
Do you consider yourself a muralist/street artist? And why did you choose the streets to express yourself?
I’m an artist and I chose the street because it is free!
While some claim the physical danger of working outdoors makes women reluctant to participate, do you think women are changing the status quo of street art which is kind of still a boys’ club?
Because we live in a world where people teach our children the wrong things: girls wear pink and teach how to dress up and apply a good make up! We have to understand the difference between pussies and women. I have a lot of women friends that rock more than a lot of men I know. Women and men are the same thing, ignorance make the difference!
Is there something you wished you did and now regret you never did it?
yes punch the face to the fucking people who took my art, and never paid!
The internet innately separates the creator from the audience. What are your thoughts on social media, and how it helps or hurts artists today?
The internet is a strange thing! It’s good for us to spread the message at the beginning, but now it is a snake because people can steal the research of everybody.
Outside of the creating realm, away from screens, what activities occupy your time? Is it difficult to find a balance between “work” and “play”?
Oh yes! Many things: the reggae music culture, and the reality of the sound systems in particular. This was surely what influenced my work the most, and helped me become the artist I am now.
I love to play with the old cars and motorbikes. I love animals, spend time in a nature, and build cabins .
It is not difficult at all to have a balance between work and my passions, because at the end of the day, work and passion can work good together.
What’s something about you that would surprise our readers?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Garvey
What can we look forward to seeing from you next? What collaborations, shows or projects do you have planned?
I’m working on new stuff. I’m preparing for my next show in LA this summer, with Soze gallery, and I also started making sculptures with iron. As for the rest, painting walls all around, which is my favorite!
Thank you Teo for your time, we wish you the best of luck and hope our paths cross in the future.