Q&A with French-Greek artist Sissy Piana - tribute to artists who have accompanied and inspired her throughout her life

"Classical music such as Mozart, Schubert, Bach and so on, is so technical and savant. I love it. But Rock and Blues are the two kinds that make a real difference in my everyday life. There are many other things I am worried about for the future. Art Will always bring emotions in this world."

Sissy Piana: Freedom, Art & Rock n' Roll

Born in Greece in the city of Giorgio de Chirico (Volos), Sissy Piana learned drawing in Vasilis Keramidas atelier, then went to study in the Beaux Arts School of Marseille in France at the age of 17. Naturalized French, she traveled and presented art exhibitions in France, Greece and Germany before working as a sculptor and painter at the decor Atelier the Petit Chantier for ten years, actively participating in the construction of sets for various theaters, opera houses and event venues. Since 1993 she is the exclusive sculptor for Manex, France-Display New York and one of the most prestigious and historical busts and mannequins manufacturers, the Company Stockman. She realizes prototypes, mannequins, busts, heads, torsos and accessories for the major brands of ready-to-wear and haute couture and for cultural and fashion institutions (Busts adjusted for costume exhibition from the Louvre Museum, couture busts with Emmanuel Bossuet to the Bon Marché, Chanel runway autumn-winter 2016-2017, etc.)

Photo: Sissy Piana and Rolling Stones, Artwork © by Sissy Piana

Since late 2015, Sissy Piana invites us into her private world and is striving to create unique pieces. Realistic busts in human size of musicians, actors and writers who have accompanied and inspired her throughout her life. In just one year, she presents an entire collection of inhabited faces, with sensitive and accurate expressions. During each execution Sissy coexists and communicates with her subject to emerge from matter all of her admiration and familiar feelings for each of these personalities. Through this work she establishes a human network, sharing her passion with fans, relatives of persons she pays tribute to, and some of these personalities in person. In the beginning of 2016 the Stones Fan Museum in Lüchow, Germany commissioned a series of busts of the Rolling Stones, and the municipality of Choisel, France commissioned a bust of Michel Tournier after his death which saddened his admirers. From realization in clay or plasticine to resin or plaster draw, through casting, Sissy performs alone every piece of her collection. Each draw, then finalized is unique.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Rock n’ Roll Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I Love music so much, may it be rock, blues, Opera and so on. But unfortunately, I’m not a musician! Believe me I’ve tried! So, the only way I found to make this music mine is sculpture. By creating a sculpture, I am giving my interpretation, as a tribute to the artists who have the talent to express so many shared feelings and ideals with their music. It works the same with poets, filmmakers…

What were the reasons that you started the artistic researches?  How started the thought of realistic busts?

I always felt the need to draw, paint, do things with my hands, since I was a child. I think realism might be the consequence of many years working as a mannequin sculptor (for shops, Haute Couture,…)

Realistic sculpture literally fascinates me. I even remember being overwhelmed by my first doll as a kid, which I got quite late in my childhood. Later on, as an adult, I was sculpting these other dolls, the mannequins. I immediately felt as if I was creating a toy, and I still do!

"What I actually learned with visual arts or music, is that it has always brought me close to people who share a common ground with me, a similar vision of the world." (Photo: Sissy Piana & Patti Smith, 2019)

What has been the relationship: music and visual arts in your life? How does music affect your mood & inspiration?

My relation to visual arts and music is clearly therapeutic. Especially music. It has become something necessary for me to live and handle my emotions. It’s the most direct Language which has an effect on me from the inside. It makes me forget that I’m tired, sad, helps me put things into perspective without any intellectual effort. Visual arts, literature, poetry and movies can require such an effort.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of ART?

Classical music such as Mozart, Schubert, Bach and so on, is so technical and savant. I love it. But Rock and Blues are the two kinds that make a real difference in my everyday life. There are many other things I am worried about for the future. Art Will always bring emotions in this world.

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What moment changed your life the most?

I had some Beautiful encounters with artists I admire, and each time I was amazed like a Child going to Disney for the first time… I feel very lucky I got to meet exceptional people like Keith Richards, Patti Smith, Mikis Theodorakis, honoured I could be in contact with the writer Michel Tournier, with Jet Black from the Stranglers through his wife and lately with Brigitte Bardot and Grace Jones… But the person I am really grateful I met would be Joe Dallesandro who I admire since I was a teenager. I got to spend holidays with him and his wife, and I discovered a wise, positive and generous human being on top of all the talents he has.

There’s a time when my life started to change, and that’s when I had my first job as a sculptor for Opera sets. I found myself in a universe I had dreamed about for a long time, surrounded by great artists, immersed in the most spectacular music. I felt so proud and important with the simple fact my work was associated to this world.

"My relation to visual arts and music is clearly therapeutic. Especially music. It has become something necessary for me to live and handle my emotions. It’s the most direct Language which has an effect on me from the inside. It makes me forget that I’m tired, sad, helps me put things into perspective without any intellectual effort. Visual arts, literature, poetry and movies can require such an effort." (Photo: Sissy Piana & Joe Dallesandro with Sissy's sculpture, 2017 Los Angeles California)

If you could change one thing in the musical/art world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

I wouldn’t change anything in Visual arts or music. Both represent freedom to me.

What do you learn about yourself from the ART? What touched (emotionally) you from the local music circuits?

What I actually learned with visual arts or music, is that it has always brought me close to people who share a common ground with me, a similar vision of the world. I was really lucky I had some extraordinary rock bands in my surrounding when I was young, living in my small hometown in Greece. They were passionated, and definitely made my musical education!

Where would you really want to go with a time machine? What memorabilia (records, artworks) would you put in?

It all depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes, I would want to go back to Ancient Greece in order to hear the music that they play and dance to. Other times, I would want to go back to the time of Mozart and be present at one of his concerts. Sometimes, I’d rather be in the 60’s when Rock music was in its heyday. It all depends on the moment I’m in…

How you would spend a day and what would you like to ask Jim Morrison?

First, the Music of the Doors and specially the voice of Jim Morrison touched me straight away, I can’t explain it, but it’s almost as if it hit a nerve, or a deep wound in me. I didn’t speak Nor comprehend English that well but I could understand, or I would rather say that I could feel the very essence of it. I would tell Jim that he became sort of a guide; like my very own broken/fallen angel or a demigod who knew my fears and uncertainties; things that are brought about by my sensibilities, my moments of solitude and fear of death and longing to live to the fullest, which is quite paradoxical since he was leading me to darker paths. Though he made me feel better… I always have chills when I listen to him. Of course the four members of the Doors are geniuses. But for me the Doors really are about Jim’s spirit. After his death, the Doors - the band - died. I would tell Jim Morrison thank you, I love you.

Sissy Piana - Home

(Photo: Sissy Piana & Maria Callas, Artwork © by Sissy Piana)

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