Pistoletto presents ESA with the mirror painting “Portrait of Paolo Nespoli – Astronaut, Mission VITA 2017”
Science and space in relationship with art: on 28th March, Michelangelo Pistoletto’s work, a mirror painting portraying ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, was unveiled and presented at the ESA-ESRIN Centre in Frascati.

From space to Earth to the mirror: the journey of astronaut Paolo Nespoli, who was in orbit for 139 days on board of the ISS (International Space Station) for the mission VITA, has received another acknowledgement, this time of the artistic kind. After being a guest of Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinale and of Fabio Fazio in the TV programme “Che tempo che fa”, Nespoli has had the honour of being the protagonist of Michelangelo Pistoletto’s latest work. On Wednesday 28th March, the artist from Biella presented the ESA-ESRIN Centre in Frascati with the mirror painting “Portrait of Paolo Nespoli – Astronaut, Mission VITA 2017”. The unique work, a reflective painting depicting a life-size image of the astronaut, represents one of the declinations of the collaboration between Nespoli and Pistoletto. The partnership started from the symbol of the mission mentioned above: the Third Paradise was in fact selected by ASI and ESA as the central element of the logo for the space mission VITA, thanks to the collaboration with RAM radioartemobile, platform for contemporary art, and, of course, Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto. It was a historical moment: for the first time an artistic symbol had been used as the logo for a space mission. As part of this cooperation, Pistoletto has also realized the image for an installation tracing the Third Paradise in the garden of the ASI Centre made of solar panels, so as to be visible from satellite.

But back to the moment of the “official” presentation: last Wednesday, Pistoletto’s mirror painting was unveiled, with Nespoli and the artist himself attending. A meeting which once again created a link between art and science. In reference to the logo for the mission VITA, the artist from Biella said: “Nespoli made the Third Paradise his own and took it with him to the ISS. The mission was a great opportunity to take steps forward towards the responsible social transformation the symbol, through its meanings, wishes for. The logo for the initiative is a work of collaboration in progress, hopefully leading to the development of a new and virtuous social conscience. It is extraordinary for me to have had the opportunity to leave a mark, not only in the mission VITA and in the garden of the ASI Centre, but also with my new mirror painting, where Nespoli, our hero in space, will be eternalised through art.”


Nespoli, clearly quite emotional, replied: “It is a great honour to be the subject of this work. In reference to the words of Pistoletto, and contrary to what people think, I wanted to stress that astronauts are not super hero scientists, as the missions are the outcome of the work of a whole team made of many people committed to doing incredible things. We astronauts are lucky enough to work in space, but we are in the hands of these professionals. From now on, not only my colleagues but anybody working in this centre will be able to reflect themselves in Pistoletto’s installation.”