A young artist, with one eye on the past and the other on the future, pioneer of the Web and in love with Caravaggio and Andy Warhol: this and much more is the world of Jenny Ungaro, born in 1986, Pop artist with a penchant for education. “I was born self-taught, without artistic studies and with some notion of graphics,” says Jenny. “I’ve been drawing at least since I was six years old; even as a child I used to reproduce Disney characters and everything around me.” This aptitude has led Jenny Ungaro on the path of Pop Art, which she has always loved, often interpreted through the double comparison between two very different characters but with something important in common. “I juxtaposed, for example, the girl with the pearl earring, from Vermeer’s famous painting, with Alice in Wonderland, because of the naivety and introspection of both. Or the Mona Lisa with Mickey Mouse: which of the two is more famous? My characteristic trait, however, is irony,” says the artist.
Years ago, Jenny Ungaro didn’t believe too much in her talent, while today she moves on many different levels and objectives. The first exhibition arrived by chance in her city of origin, Taranto. Jenny tells us: “I was afraid of exhibiting for the first time, I was afraid of the judgement, especially because I didn’t follow any specific studies. Instead, I immediately sold my first painting, a small canvas depicting Twiggy, the model and actress of the sixties”. Jenny Ungaro’s Pop style is based on colorful synthetic materials, stencils, markers, spray cans, spread on canvas and preceded by a digital processing. Jenny says: “To make myself known, I thought that the Internet and social networks were the right way; I was already on Instagram ten years ago, when almost no one else was, and I used MySpace, an old platform, as a sharing tool. At the beginning I didn’t even know how to do it, but then, in 2013, I was contacted by an association in Milan that was organizing an exhibition on the theme of the Rolling Stones. I ranked as a finalist and had the opportunity to exhibit in Brazil as well.”
Some years ago Jenny Ungaro moved from Puglia to Veneto, where her partner works. In Bassano del Grappa (Vicenza) the artist arrived after a dramatic fire that involved the house where she lived in Asiago. This traumatic event also influenced her way of making art. Jenny tells us: “After the fire, which forced me to abandon all my belongings, including my work tools, I had a change in visual perceptions. I used to paint female subjects with a somewhat melancholic stroke; since then, my paintings have been filled with color and I’ve started looking at Pop mythology again.” During the lockdown period due to the pandemic, Jenny Ungaro had to rebuild her work also materially and avoided participating in virtual exhibitions, which do not interest her, despite being a firm believer in the online universe. And the approach to the Web has worked so well for Jenny Ungaro, that she has decided to transfer her experience to other people. She now teaches courses on online marketing techniques aimed at creatives and on a particular style of painting, Fluid Art. Jenny explains: “Everything that happens in the United States has always attracted me and, in 2016, I became aware of this technique, Fluid Art, which in Italy was almost unknown. I created a course on the use of ink and resin to make paintings with this style and now I have more than 150 students.”
American Pop characters are at the base of Jenny Ungaro’s iconography; but also her Taranto origins give a touch of originality to her paintings. In the latest productions appear Amore and Pische or the head of an ancient statue, the symbolic image of the archaeological museum of Taranto. “I was born in a city of ancient Magna Graecia,” says Jenny, “and it would be nice to bring something of our mythology abroad. In Italy there are many very good foreign artists, but the emerging Italians are a bit ‘neglected. My dream in the drawer is an exhibition in the United States. I think it would go well with my style”.