Interview: NEVERCREW

Pablo Togni was born on 29th september 1979 in Bellinzona, Switzerland. Christian Rebecchi was born on 20th december 1980 in Lugano, Switzerland. Both attended the Art School in Lugano (Liceo Artistico C.S.I.A.) and afterwards the Painting course of Professor Nicola Salvatore at the Brera’s Art Academy in Milan (Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera), graduating in 2005. 

Since 1996 they work together and give life to artistic duo NEVERCREW, beginning to approach to street art (which at that time was still seen only under the name of “graffiti”) primarily with an approach through painting and other expression forms such as sculpture, illustration, photography and video, beginning immediately to paint all over the south of Switzerland. In these early years they participate in the exhibition about swiss graffiti “Dalla strada” at the Museum of Modern Art in Bellinzona (CH), they paint into the “Pretoriali” prisons in Bellinzona (CH), are selected as “young drawers of Ticino” for the comics event “Innovafumetto” in Lugano (CH), and exhibit between Milan and Como (Italy) during the course of the Academy of Fine Arts.

Since 2004 they further concentrate on painting and, while continuing to work with spray, they try to combine the experience and the spirit of murals, street art and graphics with the expressive research done in academia. For a few years they work for various companies (such as Costa Cruise, the swiss-italian radio and television RSI SRG- SSR, Kuoni-Shoestring,…) and city departments.
Since 2008 they extend again the range of their artistic creations returning to work in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional. Their main artworks of these years are the “Octopus” painting at the Skatepark of Lugano (CH), the live painting at the Volvo Art Session in Zürich (CH) and the Art Direction of the movie “Tutti Giù” directed by Niccolò Castelli (ImagoFilm Lugano, CH).
Still as independent artists, since 2010 they begin a new personal research where they decide to devote more and more time: a more specific language on a conceptual level, but not necessarily from the technical and visual point of view, which takes the form mainly in their “sections” and “living structures”. With a series of these works, in 2012 they participate at ArtYou Urban Art Basel (CH) ), and in the same year they realize the big “Magenta” wall painting in Lugano (CH).
In 2013 they win the “Artists of the year 2012” award of the Bally Cultural Foundation, they’re selected in the “Stroke Curated” section at the Stroke Urban Art Fair in Munich (DE), they realize the interactive installation “Tin Can Phone Project” in Lugano (born from the previous “Funnel Project”, 2012) and one of their images is chosen to be printed in a limited series as official gift for the main guests of the international Festival del Film Locarno (CH).
In the same year they’re invited in two solo exhibitions in Lugano (CH): the first one at the “Limonaia” of Villa Saroli (Museo d’Arte Lugano), where they present the installation “Part of the Process”, and the second one at Ego Gallery, where they present unpublished different works and installations, result of their recent path.
In 2014 NEVERCREW realize the artworks inside the new Facebook’s spaces in Milano (I) and Dublin (IRE) and partecipate in many international projects and art festivals.

I was able to send some questions to NEVERCREW, and this is what they had to say:

NEVERCREW in CairoCould you tell us a little about yourself, where you guys are from, how did you guys meet, and how did you get started in the urban art scene?
We’re NEVERCREW (Christian Rebecchi & Pablo Togni), a street art duo from the southern region of Switzerland (Ticino). We met at the art school in Lugano (CH), when we were 15 years old, and we started painting together one year later, in 1996. In the 90’s hip-hop was very important in the scene of our region, and so was graffiti. We used to work together on mix-tape graphics and on comics, and so we decided to extend this collaboration to the walls.

At the beginning we were young students but we had the opportunity to paint a lot. At that time our attitude used to be a little bit different from the usual graffiti writers “code” and style, but there was not yet the term “street art / urban art” to associate with.
After the art academy in Milan (I), where we graduated in 2005, we decided to focus exclusively on our creations and nothing else.
Astronaut - Facebook Dublin 2014 How did you come up with the name? Does it mean anything?
It is an old name, we use it since 1997. We don’t like to explain it too much, for us now it’s more like a sound or a shape. Like a first name given by a parent before knowing their newborn characteristics.  But it also has interesting conceptual derivations…

Are you a full time artist or do you do this as a creative outlet?
We’re full time artists. For us, personally, this is the only way to do what we do, which requires a lot of time, concentration, organization and flexibility.

Compelling Machine, HamburgHow would you describe your style?
From the visual point of view we use mix figurative painting, stencils and graphical elements. We like to create systems made by many parts and generate interactions between them and the space around them.

One of the main characteristics of our work is probably our “machines” or “living-structures” that we use to compose specifically from a constantly-growing parts archive and from which conceptually starts the rest of the work.
When we recently went in Cairo (Egypt) we were jokingly described as “engineers-artists” but, if possible, we would love to quote a web and printed Italian magazine about street art called “Gorgo”, from an article about our painting for the Urban Art Festival in Winterthur (CH). We think that it’s more interesting when someone else describes you, and we like what they wrote:
“The work of Nevercrew lives of four hands, two entities, two thoughts and unique approaches that when mixed between them generate a precise and multifaceted mark. (…) the work of the duo moves through a constant balance between fantasy and mechanics, a similarity that produces a reverb effect that creates a unique empathy in the viewer, an escape from reality produced by the reality itself as a real solution and answer to the daily.”
Imitation of Life. Belgrade 2014How much does your art affect or influence your everyday life and are there any role models or artists who inspired you?
What we do now is our life and that means that we use the most part of our time working and thinking on what we do. We don’t have working hours or holidays (except when we decide to take them) and this is the main way our art affects our everyday life.

Secondly, our specific kind of art generates a lot of new and different interactions, both here in our region and abroad, and make us deal with may persons, cultures and situations.
Difficult to choose a specific model that inspired us. We personally don’t remember if there was a particular inspiration when we started in the 90’s (but of course there were a lot of local and international artists that we used to admire) and now there are a lot different persons, situation or artworks from which to learn or take enthusiasm.

Astronaut 01 - Facebook Dublin 2014Has your style developed throughout the years?
Yes sure. In a way it was a normal evolution due to our experiences and changes, in another way we have a constant discussion about what we do and how we do it. There was for sure a search for the best way (for us) to communicate and represent our reflections, and there’s still an ongoing process.

Who are your favorite street artists? And why?
We probably don’t have just a few favorite street artists, but we have a lot of artists that we appreciate for their attitude, their concepts, their skills or their messages.

We usually like when we see that there’s a search for something, a path. We like original and unusual ideas, the ability to create beautiful and poetical “images”, smart interactions with the places or who can communicate something in a strong or interesting way.

What are your thoughts on the way the internet is influencing the artworld?
Internet is a big mean and a powerful way to connect with people and places. It has for sure changed a lot of things and the arts are probably one of the most evident.

It created the opportunity to share artistic products to a big audience, bigger than your classmates, parents, citizens, musical venue or gallery visitors. This for sure generated a new kind of urge in people and an easier way to interact and compare between all, and at the same time it led to a extremely big amount of products, sometimes too much to be appreciated as they should and sometimes probably confusing.
On another side internet made easier the communication and the connections, creating new international bridges and the possibility to extend the range of everything.
Especially in street art, internet seems to be one of the most important media, and in a way it has a strange logic: it could be seen as an extension of the connection with people that’s already part of an art that’s made in public places.
In the end we can say that internet made everything more attainable and popular, sometimes changing the previous balance between highbrow culture/art and what people like more instinctively, maybe confusing the “results”, and at the same times making both things closer to everyone.
A drop of pink in Isar's Waters 2013Do you travel to do street art or do you do street art when you travel?
We usually travel to do street art. When we travel for visiting places or for relax it generally means that we’re taking a break. Also if sometimes we forget it and we don’t do that, breaks and activities are important to add new thoughts and to take a little bit of distance to see things from the outside.

Of course it is really important for us the place where we go, so also when we travel for painting, we try to have a few days before or after for visiting. Traveling for painting it’s an intense experience, you live the place in a different way and everything it’s like recorded in our minds and in our works.

Have you painted in the USA? If so, how was your experience like?
Not yet, but we’re planning to come there in spring or summer 2015 (depending by the projects). We visited a few times the USA and we’re sure that the experience will be really nice and stimulating.

Magenta 2012Is there a message in your art?
More than one. What we create would like to be something in the middle between us and the viewers. We’re developing our personal language, artwork after artwork, to communicate and interact in our personal way and our reflections are mainly about systems (and so society, politics and relationships). It could be view as a double vision of things (or an analysis): from outside, from the distance – to see the global shape, and from inside, where the different parts become important. We call them “sections” and we use them to show and create connections, and so thoughts and discussions.

What have been your most challenging and rewarding piece of work thus far?
Each work we did in the last years was challenging in a way, sometimes for technical reasons or for the search of the best interaction. For example, when we realized the artworks for the new Facebook spaces in Milan (I) and Dublin (IRE) in January and may 2014, we had a long period of preparation. They asked us for our work, for a personal intervention, and it was really interesting to find the right way to “communicate” and deal with such the entity that’s Facebook.

When in 2012 we realized “Magenta” in Lugano (CH) it was a 240 square meters surface with a complex project, so the challenge was more on organizing the work in the best way and schedule the time.
Other rewarding works for us, for many reasons, were also the installations we did in 2013 for Villa Saroli and Ego Gallery in Lugano (CH), named “Part of the process” 1 & 2, and the mural painting “Interpretive Machine n°1” realized in Winterthur (CH) in September 2014.
Compelling Machine n2, Cairo 2014What do you do when you are not creating art? What are your hobbies?
We love many things, also if recently we didn’t have so much time to follow them.

We have interests in common and other that are personal, but here they’re mixed: we love visual arts (of course), cinema, politics, vintage objects and to build things. We like to play guitar and photography and we have a passion for beer tasting, collecting designer toys, design and architecture.

What’s next for you? What shows or projects do you have planned?
At the moment we are working in our region. We mainly have to prepare canvases and installations for two solo exhibitions at the beginning of 2015. The first one will be in January in Basel (CH) at Artstübli, and the second one will be in February at the Square23 gallery in Torino (I). At the same time we are organizing a mural painting in Varese (I) for the “Urban Canvas” project, a painting in Berlin (DE) for Urban Nation and we’re planning a few other trips for spring/summer (but not yet confirmed).

Work in Progress - Winterthur 2014Any words of advice for aspiring new artists?
We could say: don’t rush, and don’t be afraid of “missing the train”. Often just by walking you can arrive at the same point or at least you will see more things.

Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to stop and think about what you’re doing, and what you’re doing is the most important thing so maybe it’s useful to do it with passion and concentration.

Thank you guys for your time and I hope that you are able to make it to Boston and paint next year, until then keep up the awesome work.

(Christian Rebecchi & Pablo Togni)

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