Maltese Photographer And Japanese Toy Collector Debuts Visual Art Career At Madrid Exhibition
The work of Maltese visual artist Shane Piacevoli (previously known as pop novelist Ġużè Stagno) is on display in Protection No Longer Assured – a group exhibition in Madrid.
Piacevoli currently lives in Belgium, but grew up in 1970s Malta consuming Japanese anime and tokusatsu in what he describes as “the somewhat unhealthy doses characteristic of that decade.”
Tokusatsu is Japan’s distinct brand of science fiction, most famous globally for Godzilla, king of the kaiju, a creature whose undeniable bulk, looming presence and (sometimes) fiery breath has featured in dozens of iterations across decades of cinema.
Godzilla, along with many other tokusatsu characters, has also inspired the production of countless toys. As a fan of this genre, Piacevoli grew up amassing a large Japanese toy collection. The toys in this collection inspired him to delve into visual arts.
What began as experimentation with toy photography eventually evolved into the Tokusatsu Mon Amour project on Instagram. It was this project which drew the curiosity of Colección SOLO – the private museum which is now displaying Piacevoli’s art in Madrid.
According to Piacevoli, “the scenes depicted play on the juxtaposition between the dorky character designs typical of the Showa era and the violence inflicted upon the Japanese landscape and its inhabitants by the kaiju du jour.”
Colección Solo described Protection No Longer Assured as an exhibition seeking to “revisit the sublime notion of delightful horror through a selection of 63 artworks by 30 artists, across media including sculpture, painting, sound and AI art.”
“Wit and reflection come together in this stroll along the brink, through a landscape of mushroom clouds, AI-generated artworks and post-natural creatures in which war itself has become a TikTok duet.”
In a post to social media announcing this exhibition, Piacevoli said “I am beyond ecstatic, as this marks my official debut as a visual artist.”
“Heartfelt thanks to the people behind Colección Solo, and an even bigger thanks to those people I know in real life – that’s two or three of you – who never took the piss at me taking pictures of my toys. You know who you are.”
For any who might have the good fortune to be in Madrid before the end of this year, Piacevoli has prepared a helpful guide explaining how best to engage with his work.
“The artist invites viewers to approach the works with the same playful attitude that informs them. Whatever apocalypse befalls the metropolis, it will be fixed in time for the next catastrophe: the city rebuilt, its denizens seemingly unaffected by any mental trauma. But a sense of existential unease lingers…”
Tag someone who should challenge their sense of existential unease