Interview with Lorenzo Passi

The artist who blends glass and iron in an incredible embrace.

Hidden in a narrow Venetian calle the studio of Lorenzo Passi is located in the heart of the sestiere of San Marco. Walls and flooring are rough and the artworks are set on suspended structures to escape high water.  From the second entrance the reflections of the water echo, and you can scent the aroma of Venice.

The original sculptures made of glass and metal fit perfectly in this rustic and half-lit setting. The rooms are illuminated by a few typical venetian lanterns and by the bright sunlight that filters from the canal watergate.

Here Lorenzo works and forges iron before setting off in his boat to seek some peace in the lagoon and heading to the furnaces of Murano to blow glass skin onto his sculptures.

And in this warehouse there is an inventory of objects, metal pieces, wood collected on the beach, pottery, even the roots of the ancient family tree: all elements on which Lorenzo draws to create his works.

From the studio to the artist

Visiting the studio of an artist is a bit like entering his world: you look at his things, listen to his stories, so from appreciating the artworks you switch to discovering something more about the individual. A private and sensitive person, his clear eyes, his friendly and gentle soul overcome the initial shyness, similar to the glass skin of his works that comes out and spills over the metal cages. While sipping tea we had a pleasant chat and Lorenzo replied with great willingness to the questions of this short interview

- From Milan to Bologna, from Murano to a small village in Finland, finally Venice: travel, study and work experiences that have marked you. Where are your roots?

From an early age I lived a slightly nomadic life, then I felt the need to have a place to take root, I searched for (and found) Venice. But there is always a tension, an artist can’t stay still. I don’t rule out further moves and other essential experiences abroad to enrich my CV. I think for example of the States where the fabric of society is more curious about art.

- With glass it was love at first sight. Can you tell us about the first meeting and the relationship with such incredible material?

My grandfather loved glass very much and I probably got in touch with the material for the first time at his home. But the brainwave occurred at the age of twenty when I met Joan Crous, a Catalan artist with whom I worked. There I understood that the glass would be the means of representing my thought.

Later in Murano I fell in love with the workmanship, by touching the material I discovered the passion on a manual level. And the workshop experience directed my path.  

Learning the technique, I reached a new degree of interpretation, I acquired one more tool that allows me to think “in glass”. When you connect your brain to your hands you can access another creative level.

- In your artwork you use recycled materials with the idea of telling stories. How do you select the pieces that you incorporate into your glass sculptures?

I often select objects that remind me of things that today are no longer available (for example old irons, ancient utensils…) I take what they have been through, I start from this memory and give them new life. My glass breath inside the metal structure makes the object survive over time, because glass is timeless. And my artworks will survive me, maybe this is also a vanity of immortality.

- An artist is often a narcissist but equally often an introvert. How does art help you to express your emotions?

Art offers me a language which is like an open book where I can put my emotionality. The result is a strong message and a deep intimacy … surely I feel more confident in expressing myself through my artworks instead of speaking at a conference (lol)

- In the art installation “I built a canopy for dreams” you explored the theme of dreams. What is the dream of Lorenzo Passi?

I wish I could reach everybody through what I do. I try but I don’t know if I succeed… it’s a dream indeed! And moreover I would like to get there without compromising too much.

vetro soffiato, acciaio e luce
Lorenzo Passi, Roots. Credits Marignana Arte, photo Enrico Fiorese

- In your opinion, is there a common thread that unites art, craftsmanship and design?

Art, crafts and design are three categories that often intersect and coexist. But I am an artist, not a craftsman. There is already an excess of objects and I’m not interested in reproducing my pieces. For me art has a higher gear, that is the artistic flair of creating something interesting and unique.

- And to conclude can I ask you what are you working on now? Can you reveal something about your next project?

I’m working on a project inspired by the movie Videodrome by Cronenberg, one of my favourite directors. I want to create a series of big glass screens on which to project video clips. It will be like a kind of machine where we can express openly freeing us from our masks. There is a technological part that I’m studying with a friend and the idea is to make an art installation with all these screens in a dark room…but I leave you to discover the surprise!

Forgiato nel ferro, soffiato nel vetro. Credits Marignana Arte, foto Enrico Fiorese

Short Bio

  • Born in Milan in 1985 Lorenzo Passi graduated from the Art Academy in Bologna.

  • After high school he moved to Venice and worked as an apprentice for several glass factories in Murano.

  • In 2009 he won a scholarship at the Nuutajärvi Glass Village in Finland.

  • In 2011 he came back to Venice where he currently lives and works.

From 2013 he participated in numerous art contests, solo and collective exhibitions at the Triennale in Milan, at the Glass Museum in Murano but also in Beijing and Seoul.

His works are displayed in Venice at Marignana Arte gallery that for years has believed in Lorenzo’s talent, promoting his art.


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