As her illustrations feature on a series of T-shirts and accessories available to buy at the Gucci Garden in Florence, Livia Carpenzano speaks to AnOther exclusively about her fantastical art
The Gucci Garden is situated in the heart of Florence, housed in a historic palazzo in the city’s Piazza della Signoria. Since opening in 2018, the space – which encompasses a boutique, a restaurant helmed by Massimo Bottura, and a series of gallery rooms exhibiting new and archival work and ephemera from the storied Italian house entitled the Gucci Garden Galleria (an earlier iteration of which was opened in 2011 and called the Gucci Museo) – has both celebrated Gucci’s archive and invited artists to create work inspired by the house and the imagination of its creative director Alessandro Michele, with exhibitions curated by Maria Luisa Frisa.
As Pitti Uomo arrived in Florence last week, the Gucci Garden welcomed a fresh batch of products, artworks and objects to its hallowed halls. Exclusive to the Gucci Garden boutique – most of its products are only stocked in the Florence store, making the shopping experience that much more luxurious – is a series of products bearing printed illustrations by Italian artist Livia Carpenzano. Carpenzano’s captivating drawings appear on intricately patterned accessories and T-shirts that celebrate Gucci’s signature eclecticism.
Various characters take centre stage in Carpenzano’s illustrations, which she was inspired to create after reading the classic Roman text, Ovid’s The Metamorphoses. Gucci and the world of Michele seems the perfect place to house work by Carpenzano, then, as she shares the creative director’s interest in looking to different eras and universes to inform her work. “I really like Alessandro Michele’s poetics,” Carpenzano tells us. “His work isn’t limited to his own creations but instead is located in a larger world of ancient aesthetic codes, in the art and literature where he finds inspiration. I was invited to the Cruise 2020 show at the Capitoline Museums in Rome and I saw the models moving down the runway as an art exhibition. It felt like a game: dark, eccentric, large and elegant volumes, all coloured with subtle yet exaggerated taste.”
Carpenzano favours a playful approach to her art – “drawing is a game,” she says, “everything becomes a bit of a tragedy and a bit of a joke” – which is underscored by a dark, fantastical sensibility. It was Ovid’s lyricism that held her attention: “The melodic names of the characters, the cruel incidents that come to seem normal through poetic descriptions of the events, and the dry and hard, or sometimes light and inconsistent, figures.” Carpenzano focused on a selection of characters for her drawings: Daphne, the unwilling object of Apollo’s affection; Lycaon, a king who wrongfully tested the powers of Zeus and is transformed into a wolf, (in Carpenzano’s version, “a colourful canine species, an animal that looks like a bat”); Pegasus being made to dance; and part-animal, part-human figures. Hunt out the exclusive collection at the Gucci Garden now.