Interview with the artist: Ilaria Novelli

Between virtual reality and Japanise manga; between surreal tales and crime beat; between TV icons and hidden perversion. Mixing her traditional background to humanise digital techniques, the Italian artist Ilaria Novelli gives birth to eccentric female characters playing with the contradictory tendencies of our society.

Rather than suggesting an ethical behaviour, the artist combines the sources of her daily inspiration to reverse the usual stereotypes of our current society. From daily news to science fiction to the Great Masters of the past, the artist’s inspiration is in constant evolution as well as her works.

Secretive and not very talkative, Ilaria speaks through her images suggesting creative ways to go beyond the obvious appearance in the every-day life. Pushing the contradiction between what we are used to seeing and how the world is changing, the artist leaves open the question on how we perceive culture and society towards a critical analysis of our times.

Combining traditional and iconic images with contemporary techniques, Ilaria offers an example of how to think of, and play with, new tendencies and technologies without losing the human elements and symbols of our traditional background.

Waiting for her new year’s inspiration, here is an interview with Ilaria about her future projects and artistic journey.

1 – Between surrealist images and digital collage, how did you start to explore and prefer these techniques?

I have always been fascinated by technology, robotics and science fiction, disciplines and concepts consolidated and romanticized by every form of artistic expression. We tend to distrust the digital representation, it’s considered less virtuous and humanized, so I try to use it in a more artisanal way, leaving room to imperfection and to the human component. Starting with the collage, I turned it into a more immediate and intuitive technique both in the realization and in the elaboration, a combination between the handmade and a virtual immanent.

2 – For your pieces, you usually take inspiration from anime and fairy tails as well as crime beat and current events. How are these elements giving form to the diverse personalities of your characters?

Anime is my cosmogony, when I was a child I copied Japanese cartoons’ characters, a starting point to explore my personal mythology made of all the visual and cultural stimuli that surround me. In the past years, I have detached myself from the fanciful components even if I have kept the illustrative form to represent my themes. I have a very personal universe based on my experiences and imagination, I create in a sort of straightforward and private journaling style. Even the personality of the anthropomorphic figures always reflects my mood and my interests, I use current or historical events only if they are aimed at expressing them.

3 – In between childhood and adulthood, your naughty girls are combining conflicting emotion leaving the interpretation open for the viewer. How is this ‘ambiguity’ representing the identity of women in our society?

The feminine and individual soul has suffered the violent impact with the ranting, huge and unpredictable wave of the massifying contemporary culture. Beauty and eternal youth are essential dogmas as well as a collective shared knowledge. Our counsciousness is conformed and aligned as our evolutionary path.

4 – In your works, the naive pictorial style clashes with the brutality of contents, pushing the viewer toward a critique of the social and cultural dogma of our society. How do you see the potential of art in revealing the contradiction of our society for the new generation?

I believe that art is always maieutical and never didactic. The viewer must create or understand the truth or one of its versions.

5 – What are your future projects?

I’ll have two exhibitions both in the USA for the upcoming year. The first at the MF Gallery in New York, I’ll be the only Italian with two American artists: Lou Rusconi and David Scott Montgomery.

The second one is mostly an all female collective show “The Slap Show” curated by the artist Kawaii Suga, a charity event that will collect funds for homeless women.

Interview to the artist: Sine Senze

Sine Senze is Martina D’Anastasio, a young artist based in Rome. Since her childhood, she is living in between reality and an underworld populated by fairy and magic creatures. Drawing her imaginary friends to bring them to life, Martina transforms painting and drawing into the language to narrate the underworld in her mind.

Starting her studies with realistic and photorealistic painting technique at the Rome art academy, the themes of Pop Surrealism capture the artist’s imagination during a trip in the US at Dru Blair’s School of Art. Mixing these two techniques, Martina plays with elements of reality and fantasy to explore human emotions and giving form to new worlds playing with the visual elements of our contemporary society and traditional fairytales.

Combining traditional and classic icons with grotesque and surreal elements, Martina offers a personal and intimate perspective on our world with a unique lens that challenges the borders of what we consider real and logic.

Exhibiting around Italy, Europe and US, here an interview with the artist about her work and future projects.

1 – Could you tell us where your art name comes from and why did you choose it?

The name Sine Senze is a mash-up between English and Latin: it means senseless, without sense.

2 – In your works you combine photorealistic paint with Pop Surrealism themes.  How did you arrive to prefer this combination of media?

I’ve been always fascinated by the photorealistic technique. You can reproduce something that looks real on a “flat” surface and if you think about it it’s more abstract than abstract art. It’s an illusion, it isn’t real. It took me many years to learn this technique. I had to work really hard, especially on colour value. But you know, as many artists I’m never satisfied, and just “repaint” reality bored me at some point. I needed more. Since I was a kid I’ve always been playing pretending to be someone else like a fairy, a witch, a magic animal. I’ve always had an alter world in my mind, full of weird creatures and imaginary friends and the way to bring them to life was to draw them. I draw since I remember, since I was a little kid. It is my way to communicate: I paint, I draw to tell you a story. I learned to paint and then I combined this skill with my inner imaginary world and that’s how my “Pop Surreal” journey began. In my painting I’m telling you a story.

3 – How travelling and meeting international artists have had an influence on your artistic journey?

I’ve met so many important artists. Some of them inspired me so much but some of them disappointed me as “real people”. I’m sure I might look delusional to some of them as well. I always think that it’s better not to know your hero: when someone is your  “Art Hero” stays in your heart as a flawless soul and that’s how it should be. I know, It might sound depressive! 

4 – Especially after your trip in the US at Dru Blair’s School of Art and the immersion in Pop Surrealism themes, your works often play with uncanny and beauty. How does this tension represent the combination of reality and fantasy in your work?

Travelling around the United States was a dream. I learned so much, I saw so much. It is a place where the beauty and the ugliness of this world live together, like the yin and the yang. Reality has both the faces and I wanted to express this in my art. Fantasy is the other face of reality, sorrow is the other face of joy. I wanted this tension to be expressed in my art, I want my inner world to meet the reality and built a connection between the real world and the dreams world. That’s why photorealism wasn’t enough for me.

5 – Can you tell us about your current projects?

Now I’m moving forward on my “Broken Mirrors” projects and I’m also working on “blurred” portraits series. I can’t wait to show you more! In those paint the central question is the Io (self), our identity, our bound between this world and the other one, how we are fragile and so incredibly strong at the same time. 

 

CAMPING PANORAMA

For the 2018 – 2019 season, Nero Gallery opens with ‘Camping Panorama’. The solo exhibition presents recent and old unpublished drawings by the Italian illustrator Virginia Mori, in Rome until the 10th of November.

Camping Panorama is a campsite on the Adriatic coast near Pesaro, where the Italian artist Virginia Mori used to spend her time as a child. One of the most popular destinations for summer holidays, camping is like a bubble where families create memories and stories protagonist of the future Christmas dinner.

Dream of every child, the camping is also that weird place where during the night animals feel enormous and the darkness makes mysterious noises. For the opening of Nero Gallery’s season, the Italian illustrator brings up her childish memories to transport the viewer back in time. Mainly working with pencil, ink and ballpoint pen on paper, Virginia explores the other side of this childish dream with her typical black humour.

 

Combining recent and old unpublished works, Camping Panorama looks at the duality of this surrealistic world where memories and illusion meet, while innocent games mix with the fascination of the darkness and the familiar intimacy transforms into an attraction for the unknown. Playing with the duality of familiar and uncanny, the artist stimulates a mixture of emotions inviting the viewer to discover the details of this surreal panorama.

Here is an interview with the artist to find out about her solo exhibition and her artistic journey between illustration and animation.

  1. You mainly work with ink, ballpoint pen and pencil on paper. How did you develop this style through your artistic research?

It has been a very natural choice, I use to draw with ballpen and pencils since I was at school. Slowly, slowly I realise how much how much hints are possible with such essential tools, and I kept using them. Actually, afterwards, my research moved the focus on the ideas rather than technique.

  1. Alongside illustration, you also work with short film animation and videos. How these different ways of drawing are inspiring each other?

They are two similar worlds related to drawing on the appearance, however, based on a completely opposite mental attitude. In the illustration, you are working on one immobile image in which you have to include everything, mainly thinking about the space; while in the animation, you are working on the movement and rhythm, so thinking more about the timing. To me, they are very different mental approaches even if based on the same thing: drawing.

  1. In your practice, you are often reversing the familiar in uncanniness with your typical black humour. What would you like to communicate to the visitor by playing with the horrific elements of our reality?

I do not have any expectation on the spectator. I don’t really wish to stimulate anything in the specific; actually, I like that everyone can give an interpretation based on the personal story – some people have completely opposite reaction looking at the same draw.

  1. How do you relate to this duality between familiar and uncanny in your every-day life?

Well, it is not that easy…

  1. Camping Panorama collects a series of drawings inspired by your older works and childhood. How was to illustrate your memories as an adult and as an artist?

It is part of a journey started years ago. A lot of my pieces are ‘childhood relicts’ (cit. Svankmajer) – mostly of my obsession are coming from there. Sooner or later they will come to an end and I will probably start to draw something else.

  1. There is any particular memory that inspired the works behind this exhibition?

When I was camping, I was always too small to climb on the threes, while all the other kids could make it.

  1. To enter in the metaphoric and oneiric world of Camping Panorama, which tips would you suggest to the visitors?

I recommend to not only go in and look at the drawings on the wall, but also to browse in the books with old drawings that they will find in the gallery. Because, somehow, all together are creating a unique discourse.

 

I had no choice, I should have made it. *

Until the 14th of October, Manuel Cossu’s solo exhibition RIGA DRITTO is at Parione9 Gallery in Rome . Curated by Rossana Calbi, the show collects over 30 works of the artist for a complete overview of his life and career.

Manuel Cossu is a combination of personalities and artistic expression. He is the drummer of The Manges, one of the most popular Italian punk-rock bands. Alongside his performances on stage, his passion for drawing and visual art grows to combine these two worlds. Graphic designer for several album covers, Manuel collaborates with the Peawees, King Mastino, Senzabenza, and the Ramones.

The Ramones are also his main inspiration to the solo exhibition RIGA DRITTO. Collecting over thirty artworks on paper, canvas and wood, the exhibition illustrates his obsession with cartoons, his past friendships and his life journey. From the Skaletta Rock Club of La Spezia where Manuel used to hide to write music, the artist illustrates with essential and rough elements his life change through the years.

The name RIGA DRITTO, in Italian ‘stay right’, is dedicated to one of his friends. Just before getting out from jail, his friend got the tattoo on one of the knees, as a good auspicious for a new beginning. Manuel uses this expression to face our daily fear and anxiety, transforming his imagination in direct and harsh images.

Sending a message to anyone, the brutal honesty of his pieces is an encouragement to not give up. Through his artworks, the simple warning RIGA DRITTO transforms in a powerful advice from someone who has been there before; someone who didn’t have any other choice than make it.

After 10 years of exhibition and concert around the world, Manuel is now in Rome – at least until the 14th of October. Waiting for his upcoming projects, we asked him about his music and artistic career.

1 – Drummer of The Manges and artist. How would you describe your artistic journey to who is coming to see your works?

Everything started with the Ramones, to go to Mickey Spillane and to arrive to James Ellroy. JAMES ELLROY is the last stop; of these three essential points, my artistic journey is the synthesis of all of them. I am drawing receipts that are aiming to narrate this kind of atmosphere.

2 – How your work as a musician is influencing your artistic process and vice versa?

I try to play dry; to draw dry. I try to reduce everything to the minimum to get the maximal result. These two worlds are influencing each other. With the minimum, I don’t mean something easy; it is like taking out the skin and going around with your bones.

3 – RIGA DRITTO is your first solo exhibition in Rome with more than thirty works on paper, canvas and wood. How is transforming your story in drawings and canvas that people can personally interpret?

It is not my story; it is my immagination. I hope that it can passionate and offer a different perspective to who is interpreting; just that.

4 – ‘I had no choice. I should have made it’. Can you tell us a difficult but also fundamental moment of your artistic journey?

WHEN I REALISED THAT I WOULDN’T EVER BE THE ‘INTEGRATED’ ONE.

Eastern palace for pleasure

On Wednesday, at the Nero Gallery in Rome, ended  “Eastern palace for pleasure’. For this solo exhibition, the curators Daphnée Thibaud and Giulia Capogna collected the works of Tony Cheung, Chinese artist who plays with pop illustration and ceramic on the contradiction of his culture.

Over the centuries, Chinese influences captured our imagination with fascinating manufacturing of silk and ceramic, and the variety of traditions and languages still evolving and transforming within the society. The connection with this immense land increased with the economic crisis in Europe, when the role of China as superpower became every day more evident in our economy. However, what we know about this vast and variegated land is only a small angle of the whole picture.

Since 2008, Beijing government has been filtering and detecting any information or channel of communication that could create doubts or discussion on the political moves of the government. YouTube, Google, Whatsapp or Social Media, which in the Western world are basically necessary to be part of the society, are totally forbidden in almost the all country. Beyond what we can see on the surface, the internal differences create contradiction not only for the political party, but also for the identity of the citizen.

 

 

Tony Cheung, from Canton, based his works on this social contradiction with a combination of Japanese manga, old Chinese painting, ceramic and the political posters of the Mao period. Tony began his artistic career with “Sensitive Words”, a project to investigate the evolution of the meaning of words under censorship, and the limits of expression on Internet and channel of communications. The artist’s illustrations highlight the contradiction in the society, analysing how ancient tradition and globalization are affecting the individual expression.

With a sarcastic vein, the artist plays on the commonplace connected with his culture, like school uniform or transformation of sexuality, illustrating how old and global tendencies are forming new shapes in Chinese society. Using traditional medium as illustration and ceramic, the artist proposes unexpected, dirty content without filter or easy moral.

The interesting aspect of the artist’s project is the lack of intention of leading the visitor to a fixed interpretation. In opposition with the philosophy of censorship and obvious categorisations, the artist leaves the observer free to give is own interpretation, without any label, but using the eyes of the artist to develop a personal understanding. This is a brilliant example of integration between two different cultures, where the opportunity for a “meeting” is left to the work of art, and how they move our sensibility or interest, rather than to a ready-made product that promotes the same, easy, meaning for everyone.

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