London Unfurled: Foyles Q&A with Matteo Pericoli

30 September 2011

Foyles have carried out a Q&A session with Matteo Pericoli. Read below to find out more about Matteo and his work.


Your work has been described as "monumental and gentle", which seems a wonderfully accurate summation. Could you say a little about how your style of drawing evolved? Specifically, what is it that you like about line drawing over other visual art forms, sketching or painting say?

Thank you. Well, it is not easy to explain how one's 'style' evolves. Or even how to recognize it, for that matter! Maybe it is because you don't know it is a 'style' until you look back. In fact, when I look back at these 37-foot-long sheets of paper, I see many different styles chasing one another. I see the beginning when you have to come up with a language, I see the many doubts and indecisions. I think that line drawings show you what one thinks rather than what one sees. Sketching and painting mirror other brain activities. A 'simple' line, a hard line, is, more often than not, the result of a very specific decision process. Reality is messy, and line drawings look for a narrative that can be easily understood.

Why did you choose to draw the skyline of London as opposed to somewhere else?

I was interested in finding a place with the reverse relationship between the city and its natural obstacle (water) as compared to my previous works on Manhattan, which has historically always given its back to the water. The Thames in London offered a unique viewpoint to describe the incredible energy that an apparently innocuous flowing body of water can generate on its urban surroundings. 

Which building was the most difficult to draw?

I would say the Houses of Parliament. And this wasn't only because of the intricacy of its million windows and gothic-like decorations, but because, even if I didn't know London when I began this project, I knew that very building, it already belonged to my visual baggage, and that's not a good thing if you want to learn.

Read the rest of the interview on the Foyles website