On Sunday (22 October) in Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia, a naked man boldly approached Michelangelo's David, and turned his back to it. He widened his arms and tucked his genitals between his legs. His masterpiece was complete; his audience titillated.

Spanish artist and performer Adrián Pino Olivera is no stranger to controversy. In fact, this is hardly his first nude performance. He's even posed nude in front of Tate Britain's Ophelia.

"Yes, I did have problems," he tells IBTimesUK.

"The police reported me for getting naked in public, and it was the third one I got in Italy: first one for my nude in front of Venus Birth at the Uffizi Gallery on March 2014, second one after entering the Fontana di Trevi on March this year, and the last one after the action of Michelangelo's David."

Whilst many would argue that Olivera is simply a criminal exhibitionist, he would argue that there's a firm adoration of art, form and culture that underpins his performances.

"Every action consists in taking my clothes off, putting my genitals between my legs (the penis represents the masculine world I hate) and the act of adoring the artwork, sometimes (just like with Michelangelo's David) making a statement. It's the way I express my faith and communicate another possible world where Woman reigns and nude bodies are no longer punished or lived with shame, but celebrated as something powerful."

"I truly believe in Venus, the Pagan Goddess of Love, Passion and Beauty. In honour of her, I'm doing a project right now called PROYECTO V. It's a series of artistic nudes in the most important European museums, in front of pieces of art connected with Venus – for me – and this Feminine sacred force."

Y el David se hizo Venus. bajó a la madretierra. La V reina en la Galleria della Accademia (Florencia)

A post shared by Adrián Pino Olivera (@adrianpinoolivera) on

Not everyone agrees however. After his stunt this Sunday, security rushed to cover him up and escort him out of the popular tourist attraction. Italian police were further asked to charge him with obscenity since minors were present in the building.

He says: "you know, I don't care about those issues because I know I'm not a criminal, just someone who believes in beauty and express it in a passionate way. There's nothing wrong with what I do, I don't hurt anyone, I don't destroy the piece of art and I make a statement more important than laws: human body and human feelings have to be dignified. In order to achieve this, we need a matriarchal society."

The Barcelonian has long had a penchant for performing too. From acting at school to joining a drama club in college and performing Hamlet, Olivera said they brought a "freedom and creativity".

These experiences led him to forming the creative group, nakadaska, which worked with other young performers and created public events. After four years however, things naturally ended as Olivera decided to take a new direction - one that would dramatically alter his life.


"[After nakadaska] I flew to Florence, I put myself in front of "The Birth of Venus" and took my clothes off in order to rebirth. That was the beginning of that story and my passion for nudity and feminine element as ways for freedom and self-evolution."

Adrián Pino Olivera as we know him now was born. But where did this love of Venus stem from?

"I remember when I was a child and I was obsessed with that girl in my classroom. It was like watching an angel; her blue eyes, her pale skin... I was literally captivated by her beauty. I watched her for hours until she said: please could you stop?".

"Nowadays I can understand G was the first masterpiece I watched, there was this aura around her that made her be something really far from reality. Years later I fell in love with Botticelli's Venus I know it was because of the influence of G. From that first glimpse at beauty sparked my obsession for femininity, classical aesthetic and celestial creatures. G was literally my first Venus."

What's next? Is it too brazen to ask?

"I can just say it is centred in the image of the First Goddess, that kind of powerful divinities from the matriarchal societies of ancient times. The ones I truly believe have to be adored again, instead of religions based on sin and pain."

Who knows which gallery is next?