“The circle is an element of passage, like a hole, that allows adding depth in the painting and so reaching a more illusionistic quality through it.”
Interview by: Kitty Bew
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Where did you study?
I was born in Milan where I grew up and did all my studies including the BA at the Brera Academy of Fine Art.
At that time painting was considered old fashioned, especially for my tutor who was a conceptual artist and his approach to the work was very critical, influenced mainly by philosophers or writers. We weren’t allowed to use his class as a common studio where to make the works but only as an exhibition space, like a white cube where to show and critique the works. This probably looks like a small thing but actually makes a huge difference in the way you approach art, as it seemed to me that gave more importance to the role of an artist as art critic rather than a maker of it.
During that time, I also did the Erasmus in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts where I worked a lot in their printmaking studio and made a series of prints that put me in touch with a young gallery I am still work with.
After completing my BA I went working for a decoration company but soon I started to fell a bit lost and missed painting again. That’s when I decided to apply to the Slade and come to London. The two years spent there have been so intense but it has been a great chance for me to focus only on painting in a very stimulating context. I am grateful I have done it as I got to know such talented artists, hard workers and also great humans. This sense of community is one of the most precious things the Slade gave me I guess, being in touch with high quality of work and artists pushes you to work hard and give your best.
Your painting often features abstracted shapes and patterns. Would you say that there is a symbolism at play in your work?
Yes, definitely. I think there are some elements like animals or circles that I charge of a specific meaning. The circle is an element of passage, like a hole, that allows adding depth in the painting and so reaching a more illusionistic quality through it.
Whereas the animal belongs to a fantastic imagery that recalls a certain period of art history, Gothic art, that I look at a lot to take inspiration from and where I think there was a strong use of symbols in representations. I am attracted by the mystery that this kind of art is able to convey; I believe that at that time artists were more interested into representing the invisible world and the things we can’t see instead of the tangible ones. I might have the same sense for the unknown in common with that art, and this, in a way makes me feel super close to it.
How do the processes of printmaking feed into your painting practice?
As I said earlier, when I was in Paris for my Erasmus, I have been working with printmaking a lot and developed my personal way of etching. I would say that it was more painting to have influenced my printmaking practice though. Indeed, my prints are made through a process that makes them unique pieces because I wouldn’t be able to reproduce the same piece more than once.
Maybe the thing that both my painting and my prints have in common regards the way the composition interacts with the limits of the paper or the canvas. This is something that viewers told me to experience when they look at both of my works, almost like if they could be bigger and expanding themselves off the borders, on the wall.
Tell us a bit about how you spend your day / studio routine? What is your studio like?
My studio is at Chisenhale Art Studios, I am lucky because I have a big space all for myself where I can also work on big canvases. I generally get there in the morning, I am a morning painter and I tend to respect the three meals timing as a real Italian. I like to be at home for a proper dinner or going to openings.
I would say that I am generally more productive in the morning when I first come in the studio, whereas after lunch I have a lack of energy for a while. When I don’t fell like painting, I draw or sketch new ideas for the next paintings; this helps me a lot to rationalize thoughts and figure out how to organize the elements into a composition. It’s only towards the evening that the energy to paint comes back but I never take any radical decision too late. Usually, I have to sleep before taking an important choice that would change the painting and wait the morning to see how I feel about it. If in the morning I still think is a good idea then I just go for it, I never leave such delicate decisions at evening when I am too tired.
What is the role of the viewer, in terms of your painting?
I think the viewer is essential and such a crucial point in an art career, because it can give us confirmation whether the message of our communication is arrived or not. Painting is also a matter of communication after all so it’s important to count the viewer’s reaction in what we do. Feedback, either negative or positive, have been essential to progress in my work; I don’t do a painting to leave it in my studio. Eventually, I also want people to enjoy it and that’s why it’s so important to participating in shows. It’s only there when I can capture what people think when they look at my paintings, which kind of art or experiences it evokes in their mind.
However, I also try to keep in mind that the most important viewer is myself and in first place I have to like my work, which is very hard sometimes. I am always so hard on me..
What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?
There is a small museum near where I live that holds a very nice collection of Italian art. On the top floor there are some Morandi’s paintings that, as always, are able move something in me. Whenever I get in touch with his work, I wonder how something simple as a bottle can open up a landscape in the viewer’s mind. There is such a mysterious power in those objects; I feel that his work is so much about what you don’t see in the painting rather than what it’s actually represented, it’s a lesson about the evocative role in painting.
Also, recently I found myself so much into Victor Man’s work but sadly I never had the chance to see in real! I love the obscurity in which his characters are immersed and the archaic quality that makes his paintings almost ageless.
Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?
Yes, on the 20th of March it will open a group show that I will be part of at Exposed Arts Project in London, alongside other two incredible female artists. We still have to define the whole thing but the theme will regard mythology and how this is translated differently in each of our practices. I am curious of how it’s going to look like, as it seems that regardless we all use different mediums to express ourselves, we have a common sensitivity for the obscure and mysterious side of the world. And thanks to Sasha Burkhanova, the curator, who put us together, I am sure, is going to be very exciting!
All images are courtesy of the artist
Date of publication: 21/01/19