We got a lot of interesting emails at Aldi Reviewer (mostly from people who want to vent about chicken patties), but every once in a while someone surprises us. That happened recently when we came into contact with an artist named Serghei Pakhomoff. Serghei, it turns out, isn’t just your garden variety artist.
He’s a pasta artist. And he uses pasta from Aldi.
Intrigued, we decided to talk to him a little about his story.
Serghei’s foray into the world of pasta art was, we learned, primarily a product of circumstance. “It was just an advertising idea for promotion of the local pasta factory in my hometown in West Ural, Russia,” he told us. “Then the plant was closed by [the) owner and I stayed with a few tens of kinds of pasta and a lot of ideas.”
He turned those ideas into an advertising business that he’s run since the late 1990s, providing commercial art (both pasta and otherwise) for various exhibitions and collections.
We assumed this kind of pasta isn’t meant to be eaten.
“Right,” he said, explaining that it’s held together with crazy glue.
In 2012, as a result of increased media exposure in Russia, he was able to secure a book contract to write Models From Macaroni.
“It was a really funny idea to make a book,” he admitted.
The book, published in 2013, is in Russian.
His work currently has him in the United States. He’s an artist in residence for the Hamtramck Disneyland Artist Residency, a program in the Detroit, Michigan, area that brings artists in to do their work in an urban setting. All artists in residence are expected to work on a special project, and Serghei’s project is a scale pasta copy of the Honolulu House, an historical landmark in Marshall, Michigan. (Marshall is located a hundred miles or so west of Detroit, just outside Battle Creek.)
It was while living in Michigan that Serghei found Aldi.
“When I arrived to Hamtramck and started to work, I had some problems with the kinds of pasta, what I needed,” he explained.
As he told us, he needs a variety of pasta shapes and sizes to do his work, and he was struggling to locate a store that had what he needed.
“For or 99% of people it is not [a] real problem,” he told us, “but when I have to make a pasta building during the short time, I think what can I do?”
You might guess what happened next.
“Then my friends moved me to Aldi supermarket,” he said, “and I’ve got what I need (some kinds of lasagna, long macaroni of the different diameters and something else for a decoration). It was just [a] solution of all my problems at that moment.”
So Reggano pasta became a big part of his work. Serghei said the Reggano has good mechanics for pasta art, and he also liked its taste qualities. When he’s not using the pasta for his work, he told us he likes his pasta “with cheese and mushrooms.”
Not surprisingly, he also shops at Aldi for many of his regular groceries, too: when we asked what, he mentioned things like cheese, seafood, sauces, and Merlot.
Serghei told us he does some non-pasta art, too. He does some compositions based on old watches, and he also likes to do “funny maps,” sketches that play with the boundaries of countries. When we asked him what advice he would give to an aspiring artist, he said, “I think everyone has to find his own right way to create something new. As [Alfred, Lord] Tennyson said: ‘To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield’!”