Not Random Art - Page 88

Hello Elena and welcome to NotRandomArt. The current issue is revolving around the problem of identity. Is there any particular way you would describe your identity as an artist but also as a human being in dynamically changing, unstable times? In particular, does your cultural substratum/identity form your aesthetics?

I was born in 1976, and of course belonging to the last “analogical” generation influences my cultural identity, just as much as being born in the centre of Rome, in the heart of the old-world and Mediterranean culture: I can tell about that space, in the time of my youth, as foundation for my artistic, cultural and social identity. So maybe my aesthetic sounds strongly influenced by growing up living inside the art history, with a complete integration of ancient art with the daily life, and so many people from different cultures and social status mixing together in a city that, from ancient times, used to absorb any kind of differences to create a new unique identity.

In these unstable times very big changes happened. When I started my career, at the end of the millennium, two basic tools of the visual artist, communication and technology, changed completely. Moreover the financial and political world changed, changing the role of culture, and the role of the artist in the society.

By that time my artistic education (Liceo Artistico and Fine Arts Academy) and my aesthetics were already completed. Cultivating the passion for that kind of art-making I have been taught for, I went on feeling and thinking about art in the same way. I deepened my knowledge and skills with notorious contemporary artists (Nato Frascà, Nunzio Di Stefano, Roberto Almagno) and great artistic craftsmen working for art excellences, and my identity developed much in that sense. This kind of approach nowadays may sound like a reactionary provocation, but I consider all my traditional art experiences a big luck: this way of conceiving art allows me to produce artworks that take form organically. The sense, the meaning, the technical and aesthetic development of the artwork are growing up all together, inseparable one from the other. Artwork has to be a unicum, and can't be created or understood only from one of these points of view.

With the senescence of the concept of modernity, when I return to my idea of art-making I do not suffer for the loss of meaning of art and the role of the artist, problems so strongly connected to the society in this hard times.

I'm not interested to follow ancient art styles, it's to be “standing on the shoulders of giants”, not to follow their footsteps.

As Salvador Dalì smartly suggested, I “do not bother about being modern. Unfortunately it is the one thing that, whatever you do, you cannot avoid.”

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Could you talk a little about experiences that has influence the way you currently relate yourself to your artworks?

Besides from what just said, an important part of my aesthetic references and cultural background is strongly related to underground comics from the '70 and '80, both European and Latin-American. When I was a small child my elder brothers passed to me their comic books. The artists were Andrea Pazienza, Dino Battaglia, Fernando Fernandez, Breccia, Font...I had these in my hands before being able to understand the stories, so I concentrated a lot on the visual part of it. Among all those artists I can still remember how the first comic books of Magnus (Roberto Raviola) astounded and strongly influenced me for the sense of grotesque inherent in his robust and trenchant sign and his concept of black and white. I still was at primary school but I thought that I wanted to do this job: to captivate in the same way with drawings.

Also the power of wild sign and the empty spaces-empty times of some manga cartoons of the end of the '60, that arrived in Italy only a decade later, moved me. Later on I understood what was substantial for me in that kind of art expression (and that conditioned me) were the possibility to extend the time of the experience, the creation of a relation with the reader thanks to the story, the crossing of mediums and languages (drawing/illustration, literature, the format of the book), and that it can be so popular and across-the-board.

Another youth experience that I still can remember was in Greece, where I got stunned by the golden mask of Agamennone and the Orestea tragedy at the theatre of Epidaurus. Again, although the comprehension was impossible for me, the experience has been so strong that I can recognize its influence in some of my artworks (deformed masks, figurative metal embossings, the fascination for the narrative times, etc).

When I grew up and started to study art I have been influenced by Surrealism (Ernst, Dalì, Matta), and mostly by De Chirico's Metafisica. I loved his strong images, evoking histories, simplicity mixed with complexity, atmospheres of mystery with hidden solutions at a fingertip... I considered his personality part of the artwork: such a deep culture with ironical understatement.

An account that's not easy to get, “histories” with a meaningful still hidden sense, to be discovered with the effort of all the possible meanings (senses, mind and intellect): these immersive experiences of art that I lived when still so young conditioned my way of considering art valiant and are the roots of my art influences, the ones that I can recognize in my artworks.

I do not think that most recent aesthetic experiences can have such a strong influence on my artworks as these first ones, I rather think that what can influence me now are most of all the materials and techniques, together with the sense of identity as a woman.

Some people, both men and women with artistic knowledge, commented that my artworks seem to be made by a man, for the strong and clear style, the different techniques, the “universal” and “not feminine” subjects. At the beginning this surprised me, as I grew up thinking to be equal to men in rights and duties and equal or different from anyone else in sensitivity and capability. The assumption that in the last decades of XX century was a common idea in the society, now it is not, with the role of the genders strongly polarized in a couple of non-equal dull gender roles.

So in present times I can consider such analysis of my artworks as a compliment, although it shows how people are generally considering women artists. Best said, as people consider women.

What in your opinion defines a work of art? And moreover, what could be the features that mark the contemporariness of an artwork?

II must admit I find this question incredibly hard! What defines a work of art??? I keep coming back to “originality” and “passion”. I think if someone has created something from scratch with his own hands, with passion, with heart and soul, whatever and wherever that spiritedness and desire stems from, no matter how beautiful or how ugly, you could call it art.

As for the contemporariness of an artwork, I don’t necessary believe there is a specific feature which defines the work modern. All art at one point in time was “contemporary” in comparison to what came before it.

Is there any particular way you would describe your identity as an artist but also as a human being in dynamically changing, unstable times? In particular, does your cultural substratum/identity form your aesthetics?

Definitely being female in this day and age influences my aesthetics. I guess you could say I am a feminist artist, not the bra burning, sign wielding type, but I certainly believe in equality for women, particularly in art. I empathise with women involved in the art world of history past and am awed by their courage and how far female artists have fought to shine through… but it still isn’t over yet. Through my art I believe I am conveying a woman's sense of self. Her individualism, her beauty, sensuality and mystery, her sexuality, strength and heart.

Your art seems to be a quest for “balance between abstract and realism, manipulating lines and colours to create a kaleidoscopic feel while remain a meticulous sense of order using acrylic and mixed media.” What is the role of technique in your practice? In particular are there any constraints or rules that you follow when creating?

The very beginnings of inspiration for a new painting is to look for a pose. I will often troll through images of Avant Garde fashion photography, ballet, dance, naked portraiture and/or body-scapes to find just the right one. Once I have the pose that strikes me (YES!) I take it from there, drawing up a rough sketch adding patterns and geometrical shapes which contrast the lines of the main silhouette.

From there I sketch my plan on to a blank canvas (always making changes and additions to the new layout). Once I am happy with that I start to add colour. My fine lines are all executed without masking; using a small brush, even hand, and steadfast concentration. Then I apply layer upon layer of colour until I achieve beautiful unyielding saturation and impeccable print-like quality.

How do you see the relationship between emotional and intellectual perception of your work? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience?

The emotional and intellectual relationship of my work always begin as two very seperate things. At first glance, my art may seem frivolously aesthetic .The colours are vibrant, and deliciously arresting. But then you look a little closer, even through the simplicity of the block colour and basic lines of geometry and pattern, there is always a story within… and that is when the emotional and intellectual perception of my art merge and the true beauty is discovered.

olted by the Thought of Known Places… Sweeney Astray” by Joan Jonas was one of the first performance installations that really made a huge impact on me. I was living in Paris during this time, in the early 90s, with a lot of influences from different cultures. It became the starting point of my own work. Joan Jonas practice has explored ways of seeing, the rhythms of ritual, and the authority of objects and gestures. Jonas continues to find new layers of meanings in themes and questions of gender and identity that have fueled her art for over thirty years. She is a great inspiration still today.

It is impossible to avoid the topic of body consciousness, embodied emotions and the image of body and personal identity that we see in your practice. What is the function of the identity appearing in your artworks – is it a canvas used to present your ideas or rather the subject of the art? What inspired you to use this as a theme in your practice?

I have been developing my visual imagery since I began studying art and film - from conceptual thinking, composition, using light and colour in different ways, through all the different techniques I've utilised over the years in my work and in my collaborations with stage artists such as dancers, musicians and actors. My approach is always developing through exploring these things. Visual imagery in essence is your way of experiencing what you see and transforming it. This is my world that I want to share and express through my art. The body consciousness, embodied emotions and the image of body and personal identity is part of this visual imagery, the emotional essence in my practice. Always present and always developing in different themes and projects.

Marina Abramovic stated: You see, what is my purpose of performance artist is to stage certain difficulties and stage the fear the primordial fear of pain, of dying, all of

which we have in our lives, and then stage them in front of audience and go through them and tell the audience, 'I'm your mirror; if I can do this in my life, you can do it in yours.'Can you relate anyhow to these words?

de-identify myself, by losing my roots, my culture, I would be very happy. Unfortunately the human being does'nt choose the place where he is born. He grows up in a society that automatically identifies, through education, culture, family... More than ever I think it's more important to go on a way of self-knowledge with the aim to meet “the other”.. This other without which we can not exist. It's the same for the artist. It is more important for me to be focused on my practice than to try to define it according to esthetic criteria of identification. It's probably the reason i like to remember the painter Matisse who said or wrote that an artist must never be prisoner of himself, prisoner of a style, prisoner of a reputation.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Could you talk a little about experiences that has influence the way you currently relate yourself to your artworks?

All my way is influenced by encounterings.

It began by the meeting with my professor of literature at school. More than giving French or Literature classes, she brought us to discover texts, movies, plays, visual artworks and to think about on what we saw or read.. Thanks to her that I met Pierre Vincke, a theatredirector who was worjink in the tradition of Grotowski ... Both of them have led me to go to theater school. In this school I had meetings. Meetings with artists but also and especially human beings that made me discover. I always need o discover rather than to master a practice. It's probably the reason my encounter with Monica Klingler and Boris Nieslony was decisive for me and led me on the path of Performance Art which is a form still difficult to define. Each performance artist has a different definition of what it is...

Could you identify a specific artwork that has influenced your artistic practice or has impacted the way you think about race and ethnic identity in visual culture?

No I don't have a specific artwork that has influenced my artistic practise but many.

I'm influenced by some philsophers as well as poets or musicians or dancers or visual artists but also by some places or landscapes or atmospheres ... For some years, I was used for example to go to India where I was used to follow some traditionnal muscians or to learn bharatanatyam and practice vipassana meditation... Of course this experience has impacted my art work.... This brought me to think and work differently... My experience in India brought me to discover traditionnal strong art and paradoxally to the way of Performance Art. But there I see one common point: to make no separation between art and life and to be here and now, without projection on the future.

It's difficult for me to speak about race and ethnic identity. But I can say that today we miss more and more this notion of “to be here and now” which is more present in some cultures ... By practising Performance Art, it's my way to be connected to this way of thinking. And even in this field actually it's more and more difficult. The society and the art world brings us more and more to plan in advance, to define our work, more than to do. Just to do. To do what we deeply need.

And of course, my encountering with Black Market International and later the notion of Open Source or Open session via PAErsche have also a big impact on my work. When we go on that, each of us perform by sharing time and space but without trying to convince each other on some common way. This is for me a wonderfull way how we can meet each other, regardless of our origin, our race or our “identity”...

Many of your works carry an autobiographical message. Since you transform your experiences into your artwork, we are curious, what is the role of memory in your artistic productions? We are particularly interested if you try to achieve a faithful translation of your previous experiences or if you rather use memory as starting point to create.

My memory is clearly a starting point to create. I don't have any autobiographical message. I use my personnal experience ( what I feel , what I see, what I learn, what I ear...) to work. It's a motor or a material. I'm not able to paint, so I can't do something with red or white or yellow or black colors. All I have is life, a body alive. And I need to do something with that...

My sensation about life sometimes is too intense then I need to transform this intensity in some action. Some artistic action... If people can take something from this action this is great... but I don't want to give them “a specific message” or to control the translation of my experience.