Italian artist duo Sten Lex
have developed an exceptional stencil-based
technique that allows them to create stunning, optical artworks, that can be
enlarged to cover the side of a building. Sten and Lex first met at the end of
medical studies in Rome, while taking a radiology course together. They were
profoundly inspired by the material potential of x-ray film, and it was during
class that they first began to cut out the skeletal forms, a process which
foreshadowed their current practice. On the occasion of Edward Cutler Gallery’s
,” featuring a new Sten Lex
acquisition, we had the pleasure of catching up with the artists.
Sten and Lex’s artistic careers began in 2001, when they produced
their first stencils to create street art in Rome, which mainly took the form
of portraits. Their current practice uses a process they call “Stencil Poster,”
which developed out of an exhibition of anonymous portraits in 2010. To create
works through this method, the artists adhere poster paper onto a wood panel,
cut shapes out of the paper to create a stencil, paint over the entire panel,
and then peel off the stencil to reveal the finished work. The artists note
that this technique enables them to create works of grand dimensions, fit for
Once known as Sten & Lex, the pair changed their name to Sten
Lex because they consider
themselves a single artist; in their words, “Sten Lex, like first name and
surname.” They explain, “the path as a duo is very
complex and can be undertaken only by balances, compromises and sacrifices.”
Thus, each of their works is
collaborative in nature, as over time each partner has become skilled in
certain aspects of their process.
The artists note: “The process was initially
merely [essential] to the production of the work, over time it has become part
of the work.” Inspired by the used stencil matrices, which cannot be repurposed,
Sten Lex began to incorporate these forms into the final work, often displaying
them alongside, or peeling them off only partially, leaving them hanging in
strips. This final touch adds aesthetic intrigue, yet also gives the viewer a
look into their unique process.
What’s next for Sten Lex?
The artists share that they recently have completed their first
abstract stencils in 2013, and they will soon return to Shanghai with the Institute of
Italian Culture for a project that is currently in progress.
We offer a selection of Sten Lex’s videos featuring the artists
and their process in action.
Show” is on view at Edward
Cutler Gallery, Milan, Jan. 14th–Feb. 20th, 2014.