Big Apple experience.
The evanescent and oneiric world of Elisa Bertaglia in between -in the middle of mythology,
personal suggestions and the thrilling New York City.
curated by Elena Giampietri
I am interviewing Elisa Bertaglia while she is in New York City for a period of study and research.She has applied and has been selected for a three months Artist Studio Residency at the Eileen S.Kaminsky Family Foundation (ESKFF), at MANA Contemporary, in Jersey City. It will start in April2016. Four of her paintings have took part in the Summer Exhibition at the ESKFF.
Your artistic world is made of enigmatic creatures, they are similar to sprites and fairies of a
fabled world and to childish echoes; they live in a liquid, heavenly and undefined dimension,
rather than in a carnal one. Where does all of this come from?
Movies and books are such constant inspiration sources, for example, Greek and Latin Classics,
and recently also contemporary Literature, are very important for my artistic research. I adore
Bertolucci, Fellini, and the French director Patrice Leconte. A big part of my imaginary feeds
himself with elements coming from a collective memory, full of history and mythology, and also
from a private memory, which the most important events in my life belong to.
Your drawing is thorough, elegant and made of symbolic elements. Almost like the drawing
of Attican ceramic... The myth, dimension of transition from childhood into the adult age, is
a cultural heritage. Do the herons, the snakes, the wolves and the dogs, that come up
besides the figures of a pre-teenager world, embody more the will of escape, the fears or
Animals, silent presences that go with the little girls in my paintings in their process through
imaginary landscapes, symbolize the most instinctive part of our personality. They are, in some
ways, an alter ego. The wolves recall the figure of the mother-wolf that keeps in her mouth her
puppies, protecting them.
In Bluebirds (2015) beautiful gradations of green and deep blue, that reminds the ocean,
emerge. Not by chance, graceful feminine figures have the swim cap over their head: they
escape, curl up and, curious, and look at the world, without the superb behavior of
synchronized swim champions. When do you choose the palette and go forward the neutral
colors of the pencil on the paper?
The dive symbolizes the metamorphosis, the journey towards the unknown. I really wanted to
analyze more the element of the water: life-generator fluid. The diaphanous and lyric color of some
artworks are harmonized with the richer palette of the newest paintings. This is also the result of the
dialogue with other artists, art curators and gallerists, all people that I deeply appreciate.
For Bindwood Project, realized between January and April 2015 at Banca Sistema in Milan,
you chose the ivy: which is your idea of nature and which kind of vision of nature would
you like to transmit?
This project was born reflecting on the theme of the double, which is strongly present in my artistic
research: nature is both good and bad, spiritual and earthly, sweet and violent, magic and
scientific. The ivy is a parasitic plant, beautiful but fragile at the same time, in need of a constant
Other than your artistic research, do you think your art can also be considered as a décor?
The artists do not like this connection, but you -also considering the set-up of your
exhibitions (your installations)- often play with the disposition of small paintings in light
The research brought me to develop my works in different ways, either in installations of little
paintings or in big dimensions paintings. I like to show my works in the most neutral way as
possible. I think that there is a strong difference, but not in terms of quality (importance), between
art and décor, but it is a thought that I can not explain in a few words... many are the reasons at the
basis of the choices of a gallerist or a buyer.
Your figures are always in profile, they never look directly at the viewer and the eye, if
indicated, is very little. Did you know that the Attican potters depicted fully frontal figures
only of drunks, diyngs or foolish, basically only people who were far from the world of
The part of our body that leads us to a declared recognizability is the face. My figures do not
represent a specific girl, but girls in an age when the identity is still uncertain. The profile or the hint
of a gaze are the first clues (symptoms) of the need of determine a self-consciousness.
If I say “Pre-Raphaelites painting”, do you see some analogies?
It is a very ambitious comparison... I look very much at the Pre-Raphaelites painting and for me
they are a very important imaginative and narrative sources. The dreamlike atmospheres are close
to Millais’ and Waterhouse’s paintings.
The last indiscreet question. Your partner, Gabriele Grones, is also a painter and you
exhibited with him in several group exhibitions. Is he also involved in this project?
Gabriele and I are here in New York together: in May he had a solo exhibition at the Bernarducci
Meisel Gallery, and he has been selected for this artist residency program as well. We live together
for more than 10 years and the things that could divide us, in the end, they still unite us even more.
In New York, other than working, how do you spend your time?
We have seen the most important art fairs, like Frieze or Nada. Then the MoMA, the Met, but also
many galleries, looking for interesting things. My brother, who lives here, is a musician and we
have recently been at a concert of his band, The Motor Tom. The days never end without a bagel
or tasting something from the American tradition!