Review | Guglielmo Alfarone at Ping-Pong Covent Garden

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Guglielmo Alfarone for “Art Comes Alive at Ping-Pong Dim Sum”

“What happens tonight is a surprise for me as much as it is you… I don’t really know what is going to happen.”

On the basement floor of Ping-Pong Dim Sum restaurant in Covent Garden, a smiling but nervous young Italian man stands in front of a floor-to-ceiling white sheet. His audience readily plied with plenty of wine and a delightful selection of Ping Pong’s finest Dim Sum (of which their festive additions of Beef Wellington Puff, Turkey and Cider Dumplings and Hazlenut Mochi were personal favourites of our group), Guglielmo Alfarone took to the stage.

Armed with nothing but his blank sheet, a few spray bottles of water and some black ink, Guglielmo Alfarone took on a new confidence. However, as he began spraying dark bursts into the corner of the piece, for a brief moment we wondered if perhaps he had decided on something more simple and abstract than the work we had seen in his catalogue. After a few minutes more of watching his meticulous (and yet seemingly random) greyscale spray splash against the wall, I began to think my eyes were playing tricks. Was that the shape of an ear, a few strands of hair?

Slowly, it became unquestionable that a brooding and serious woman was hidden amongst the ink. Features came to life with every spray of Guglielmo’s bottle, and just as you thought he’d over-sprayed the piece, he would rescue her image with a watered-down spray here, a dab there, some extra detailing. The finished piece? A beautiful, monochrome face, with almost accusing eyes, staring out from the wall.

“I feel like a magician”, he told us afterwards. Clear wax hidden on the sheet is his secret, but until he begins to spray, he’s never sure what will come out: “I might have made a mistake drawing, or the wax might begin to melt under the stage lights”. A nerve-wracking thought, given that he regularly performs in front of large audiences.

Guglielmo’s performances have been watched across the world and featured in several galleries; testament to his undeniable confidence in his work, talent and ability to shape art before our very eyes in under 10 minutes.

Ping-Pong Dim Sum’s inaugural “Art Comes to Life at Ping-Pong” was an irrefutable success – delicious food paired with surprising and exciting performance art. Guglielmo’s audience gratefully took away a signed print, and one can only hope that it becomes a regular event both with himself and other performance artists .

You can view Guglielmo Alfarone’s work and find details of his exhibitions and performances here.

A special thank you to Ping-Pong Covent Garden.  

By Emma Quick