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The eternal struggle between good and evil has captivated artists for centuries. From Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale of duality in, “The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde” to Hieronymus Bosch’s surreal visions of heaven and hell in, “The Garden Of Earthly Delights” the theme of good versus evil has been a constant source of inspiration and contemplation. Auguste Rodin’s, “The Gates of Hell” depicts the eternal damnation of the damned, while contemporary artists like Ai Weiwei and Banksy use art to challenge social and political issues whilst delving into the complexity and fragility of the human experience. This enduring theme continues to captivate and intrigue, leaving us to question the very nature of our own morality.

Like many artists before him, Italian artist Franco Crugnola, also known as Peter Hide 311065 has explored duality in art. Through his mixed media works, Hide challenges society’s relationship with the economy, often carrying a political message. His art contributes to the long-standing practice of using art as a way to delve into the complexities of human experience and the ethical quandaries we encounter.

The Muse Of Duality

Born in the early 80s, Crugnola’s passion for art was sparked by the rise of street art and American pop culture. After completing his primary art studies, he travelled to the United States to learn from the masters of pop and street art.

Upon returning to Italy, Crugnola began his career as an independent street artist. It was during this time that he noticed a shift in the art world, with art becoming increasingly tied to its economic value rather than its cultural worth. In response, Crugnola adopted the name Peter Hide 311065 as an oxymoron between the eternal good child, Peter Pan, and the brutal Mr Hyde.

“As in the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson where the unequal struggle that opposes good and evil between Jekyll and Hyde, brings into play themes of great suggestion, metamorphosis and the double, the mirror and the double, until it touches the most secret chords and unacknowledged of the human soul, so in my works I try to recreate this opposite; money, in all its meanings, lends itself as a metaphor.”

“To Love Money Over Everything” | Mixed media and dollars on canvas with painted plexiglass cover | © Peter Hide 311065

Hide primarily uses mixed techniques in his art, often incorporating collages of real or replica banknotes. His most recognizable works include “Reliquari” precious boxes filled with banknotes in place of religious relics, and “Monochrom” large monochromatic surfaces featuring diminished banknotes.

Other notable works include “Denial” where banknotes are burned as a negation of capitalist value, and the “Skulls & Flowers” series, featuring skulls and flowers drawn on flat backgrounds of money. Hide’s “Border Line” series features superimposed wads of money and barbed wire, symbolizing the capitalist systems defenses, while his “Safe” series showcases real safes or shaped canvases overflowing with money.

Currency As A Message

Peter Hide 311065 is a prominent figure in the art world known for his politically charged mixed media works. His “Blood Money” series, for example, features fields of bloody money as a commentary on the true motivations behind wars. Since 1996, he has participated in numerous exhibitions and artistic events, including the First Malta Biennale where he won the second prize. He has exhibited in various galleries and museums in Italy and abroad, including the Infantellina Gallery in Berlin (2011), La Triennale di Milano (2014), the MA*GA Art Museum in Gallarate (2016), the Magazzini del Sale in Venice, the Museo Civico F. Bodini in Gemonio (2019), the Contemporary Art Museum of Villa Croce in Genoa, the European Commission headquarters in Bratislava and Vienna, the Palazzo Regione Lombardia in Milan, the first collective exhibition dedicated to “Money Art” in Brighton (UK) and ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe in Germany.
In 2017, he also participated in the Tibet Pavilion during the 57th Venice Art Biennale.

“Blood Money” | Mixed media banknotes and machine gun shells on canvas | © Peter Hide 311065

Hide’s exhibitions often feature sculptures and installations using money as a central theme, such as the “Bath Of Money” rooms and “Fresh Money” installations, which challenge society’s relationship with the economy. The public response to his work has been overwhelmingly positive, with his pieces being acquired privately and by cultural institutions.

To complement his artistic career, he has published several artist books over the years with well-known publishing houses and participated in the IV Artist Book Biennale in Naples in 2017. He is also involved in Fiber art, creating artistic carpets and often using weaves and textile materials to emphasize his message.

Art As A Mirror Of Society’s Struggles

To Hide, money art is a form of social rebellion, a way of expressing dissatisfaction with the capitalist system and challenging common economic and social dogmas. “Money art is a sort of social rebellion, a way of saying that the capitalist system no longer works, a way of emphasising your own extraneousness to the prevailing and common economic and social dogmas with a little lightness, irony and reflection…”

“Denial” | Mixed media and burning on canvas (2015) | © Peter Hide 311065

According to Peter Hide 311065, the use of currency in his art serves as a representation of the “danger of overwhelming of the ephemeral that contemporary society expresses.” He believes that in today’s society, where everything is valued based on its monetary worth, there is a risk of cultural decay and the degradation that comes with a lack of wealth.

Through his art, Hide aims to inspire reflection on the role of money in our lives and the things we “struggle, live, and sometimes die for.” His mixed media works serve as a commentary on the complex relationship between good and evil and the ethical dilemmas we face in a capitalist society.

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