Interview with Elisa Bertaglia by Veronica Mazzucco. Translated into english.
1- What does it mean for you to produce an artwork?
A projection to the future, grounded on the past. Realizing an artwork for me essentially means to conduct an artistic research remaining coherent to my own poetics and to the axiom that what I am going to do is nothing more or less than the antechamber of what will come later. Anyway, my main purpose is not to exhibition of the artwork, but the artworks itself. I do not usually work just over only one artwork, but I start some of them simultaneously. I start a new body of works when I have new suggestions from reading books, or the knowledge of a new artist, or viewing a movie, or, first of all, from a critical approach to my work. My reflection starts from the “mistakes”, considering what is wrong and what does not work well or is missing in my previous artworks. For me the mistakes are always humus for new ideas, they are the most prolific part of the work. If I want to improve and say something new, mistakes suggest the path.
2- When you realize an artwork, do you imagine it for an observer? If yes, which kind of
relationship do you try to create with him?
Usually, I never imagine my artwork for a specific observer, I dread that this could bring me to create something obliging, inauthentic, far from my path. This does not mean that I do not want to create a relationship with the observer. Generally, I demand a lot from the person that is in front of my paintings: an act of reflection, investigation and participation to what he/she is seeing. A symbolic language, as mine is, builds the image from a non-illustrative symbology, of which the spectator does not have the interpretative and reading codes. Enigmatic elements give to my images a feeling of mystery that allows the rise of the interest and the involvement of the observer so that he takes part in the mystery and the open meaning of the painting.
3- Your artworks make me think to a slow and reflective reality, in which we can escape
from the quickened rhythm that characterizes our everyday life, to get again the time denied to us. That time in which images and words can be read in detail, avoiding them to be vanished in a while, pushed up by other words and images. That room of thinking, that has a lot in common with the dream. I am thinking to a work by Giuseppe Penone, “Rovesciare i propri occhi” (“To Reverse One’s Eyes”), that is an internal self-portrait, where the face is just a way to project the spectator towards the interior, towards what is invisible, in a play of reflections and overturning.
Does this dimension belong to you?
Time, or better the frozen time, in my work is a basic element; and so it becomes infinity. It is not a snap shot, but a circular time, that abstracts the atmosphere of my paintings from reality, and that push them in the world of dreams and philosophical speculation about identity. Since many years my research is focused on the investigation of the identity and of the rituals of metamorphosis that characterize it. Through an oneiric and symbolic language I first of all analyze the ritual of the passage, the obliged but natural changing that happens during the growth up; my main topic is the passage between childhood and adulthood. The rituals that keep the rhythm of our society today are changed, or do not exist anymore: we are orphans of a ceremony of passage that can introduce us in the adult age. Torn up from the innocence of childhood, we are pushed in between the wild beasts of the adult world, without having the instruments to face them. Through this analysis, I recollect the status of a new social-mythology, that best identifies the contemporary society.
The representation of the landscape takes place through geometric elements, acid-colored informal fields, elements borrowed from reality to be rearranged in non-perspective, unnatural and impossible compositions. The capsizing of the layers, the suspension of the gravity, the obsessive dualism of the elements, the overturning between up and down, and the recurring of all elements in every composition, make the time as a circular continuous element. The comparison with Penone’s artwork is perfect: in my research the reality we are part of is totally denied, the glance is towards the introspection and the self-analysis. Autobiographical elements are hidden inside the artworks, and any interest for something concrete or actual is denied.
The glance towards spirituality, introspection and identity, is the main theme of my artistic research. The characters that I represent do not live in a dream, but rather in a metaphysical lyric reality, that needs to be interpreted trough the language of the poems and the science.