Meet the new illy Art Collection for Expo Milano 2015

Milan, 11th June 2014 – Land, creativity, food and art: these seemingly disparate concepts are now intertwined in a new series of coffee cups created by illy to interpret the theme of Expo Milano 2015, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. The authors of the story told by the new illy sustainArt Collection for Expo Milano 2015 are four young artists from four coffee-producing countries: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ethiopia and Honduras. The four artists were selected by the curators of illy sustainArt, a project started by illy in 2007 to expand its approach to sustainable growth to the international art community and offer creative talents from emerging countries opportunities to be seen. At the heart of the project is the website, which acts as a showcase for the world of contemporary art, a point of reference and a place where artists and curators can meet, exchange cultural ideas and have the opportunity to display and promote their work.

The four artists behind the new illy Art Collection have harnessed the power of their art to create four works in a unique limited edition series that interprets the central theme of Expo Milano 2015:

Open space for thoughts, like a psychological landscape.

“The artistic research for this cup was based on the concept of an ideas workshop, and balancing a series of materials, methods and ideas rather than the production of individual components. This is a starting point for experiencing space within the home and social behaviour, trying to generate dialogue about and references to new places, and exploring the relationship between topography, archaeology and architecture.”
Esteban Piedra León is an artist, professor and curator. Born in Costa Rica in 1978, he has a degree in painting from the Universidad de Costa Rica, where he has been a professor in the painting department since 2003. He has had five solo shows and taken part in more than twenty group exhibitions in various countries around the world.

From the “zero” degree of the volcano a potential force for movement and prosperity is generated.

“The cup is a kind of allegory of the rich lands in Guatemala, the ash and stone that pour out of the countries many volcanoes. These volcanoes fertilise and enrich the soil where the coffee plants grow, giving the coffee its distinctive flavour.”
Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa was born in Guatemala City in 1978, and now divides his time between Vancouver and Guatemala City. He has exhibited and performed in numerous art galleries and for public organisations. He has a degree in photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Emily Carr University in Vancouver.

ELIAS SIMÉ (Ethiopia)
To feed someone means taking care of them physically and emotionally. Energy is the power needed to produce something.

“The work on the coffee cup is a collage of goats and motherboards. The goats are realistically painted using acrylics and watercolours. The saucer is a collage of motherboards with a large coffee bean in the middle which is also painted in acrylics and watercolours.”
Elias Simé was born in Cherkos (Ethiopia) in 1968 and graduated from Addis Ababa University’s School of Fine Art and Design with a degree in graphic design. Simé finds inspiration for his works in the streets of the Ethiopian capital and has strong bonds with the communities he documents, and especially with the neighbourhood children who bring him objects gathered from the street. His work focuses mainly on collages, needlework and three-dimensional sculpture. Simé lives and works in Addis Ababa.

The evolution of life compared with the ripening of coffee berries.

“I’ve applied my passion for Pantone to the cup starting with the stages of colour that coffee berries go through as they ripen. This is combined with the idea of a graphic concept of energy for life expressed by the concentric rings.”
Adàn Vallecillo was born in Danlí (Honduras) in 1977. After studying at the National School of Fine Arts in Tegucigalpa (1995) he attended the School of Visual Arts in San Juan and graduated from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras with a degree in sociology. His career includes dozens of solo and group exhibitions and workshops in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and the United States of America.

illy Art Collections
A quest for perfection and a passion for beautiful and skilfully crafted things inspired illy to magnify the sensorial pleasure of coffee by using art to also involve the eyes and the mind. This and an idea from Francesco Illy provided the genesis in 1992 for the illy Art Collections, the famous artist cups that transformed an everyday object into a blank canvas on which more than seventy internationally renowned and respected artists have plied their craft: from Michelangelo Pistoletto, Marina Abramović, Anish Kapoor, Daniel Buren, Robert Rauschenberg and Jeff Koons to Jan Fabre, James Rosenquist, Jannis Kounellis, Julian Shnabel, Louise Bourgeois and William Kentridge. Young artists are also involved in the project, such as Norma Jeane and Shizuka Yokomizo, for whom working with illy was a major opportunity for visibility and growth on the international art scene.

Based in Trieste, Italy, illycaffè produces and markets a unique blend of espresso coffee and is the leading quality coffee brand. Over 6 million cups of illy espresso coffee are enjoyed every day. illy is sold in over 140 countries around the world and is available in more than 100,000 of the best restaurants and coffee bars. espressamente illy, the chain of franchised Italian-style coffee bars, is now present in more than 30 countries and comprises 230 outlets. With the aim of spreading the coffee culture, illy has founded the Università del Caffè, the centre of excellence offering theoretical and practical training on every aspect of coffee for coffee growers, coffee shop staff and enthusiasts. As the official partner of Expo Milano 2015 illycaffè is responsible for creating and managing all coffee-related content, exhibitions and events in the Coffee Cluster’s communal area. On a global level illycaffè employs about 1,050 people and produced a consolidated turnover of €374 million in 2013.

illy buys green coffee directly from the growers of the highest quality Arabica through partnerships based on the mutual creation of value. The Trieste-based company fosters long-term collaborations with the world’s best coffee growers – in Brazil, Central America, India and Africa – providing know-how and technology and offering above-market prices.

For more information, please contact:
illycaffè, Anna Adriani/Christine Pascolo, Tel. 040/389.0111 – Fax 040/389.0490
illy Press Office – Connexia
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