J.S: Main door. Intercom. I have already been here, but I can’t remember which floor to go. Classic me! I walk up the stairs checking every floor in the inner courtyard. I look for you while trying to conceal my silly slip of memory. First floor, second floor, I linger... you are almost hidden behind the door, but there you are. You wanted to see if I could do it by myself. We laugh, I ask you for a coffee, “maybe even a cigarette, may I?”
You live here alone: your home is also your studio, twin lives taking up different rooms. Everything seems quite tidy. How much self-discipline does it take to live and work in the same place?
A.M: I always like to observe my guests: at first, I am hidden by the magnolia in the courtyard, then by the front door. It is a bit like an act of research between new or old entities that are about to meet. The smile of those who find the way into the labyrinth, I take it as a gift.
Just behind that magnolia, I created my corner of the world, a place that protects me and that I can feel “mine” as rarely happens to me. Everyone is impressed by the tidiness: I need it in order to bring together my two lives as a dweller and as a painter; otherwise, I get lost in the chaos that already lives inside me. Will it be good for me?
As you might have noticed, the cigarettes inside the ashtray do not follow logic.
«I like to have a thousand identities and a thousand points of view just to embrace a poetics that seeks new paradoxes.
I don’t want just to (re)create recognizable scenes, I want to create absurd situations, contrasting with each other, that maybe, in their totality, may be interpreted as icons. But trust me: most of the time they are just simulacra.» ...
J.S: Your expressive language draws from your life experience. You are a witness both of the historical era in which we live in and of its means of communication, but at the same time, all of your works are so iconic that we could take every single element apart and retrace its history backwards, giving new meanings also to its past.
For instance, in “Jpeg” you start from images taken from social networks: scenes from the life of strangers that you take, vivisect, and isolate in symbols that you then use to give life to new messages.
Looking at your works, especially the most recent, the word “uncanny” comes to mind. Uncertainties, fears, and unpleasant messages are often the result of a sum of fluctuating elements, apparently frivolous and sometimes corresponding to fleeting trends.
How much do psychology and philosophy influence your work?
A.M: Playing with art is vital. It is a daily game: I play it in the studio, with my face, at vernissages and through social networks. You have to have fun, using new elements, mixing them and then contrasting them, expressing my infinite contradictions. I keep on searching, and I try to have an ironic approach to everything I go through. I always try to give a rhythm to my research. I don’t want to get bored.
I observe everything with a critical eye, linking my ideas with sociological and philosophical theories that might fit our contemporary world. I don’t want to give birth to a thought that perfectly coincides with our time, or that adapts to its requests. I never feel at home in my present. The elements of reflection of the human being, objectively, are often the same: philosophical theories may repeat themselves, but they must adapt to the time in which we want to find ourselves. This is the only way to bring new developments to the research that I committed myself to in recent years.
That said, the need not to take myself too seriously remains crucial, even when I work with images and words of fire.
J.S: Is there much of your personal experience in your works?
A.M: There is no rule in what I put into my work.
Sometimes I use my voice, sometimes I’m a video game-addicted Japanese girl passionate, a Bronx skater, a Greek statue. At times, I can even be a dragonfly that rests on an electric green aviator jacket, deluded into thinking it is grass. I identify myself with these personas, I incarnate them, and I abandon them.
I like to have a thousand identities and a thousand points of view just to embrace a poetics that seeks new paradoxes. I don’t want just to (re)create recognizable scenes, I want to create absurd situations, contrasting with each other, that maybe, in their totality, may be interpreted as icons. But trust me: most of the time they are just simulacra.
«Sometimes I use my voice, sometimes I’m a video game-addicted Japanese girl passionate, a Bronx skater, a Greek statue. At times, I can even be a dragonfly that rests on an electric green aviator jacket, deluded into thinking it is grass. I identify myself with these personas, I incarnate them, and I abandon them.»
«We are all entrepreneurs, and society does not allow us to make any mistakes under any circumstances. We must always be brilliant, victorious, and never defeated. I have often been wrong, I have frequently crashed, but I have always been able to start again after having introjected everything there was to learn.»
J.S: While you were talking to me, another word came to mind: subtraction.
Another thing you do is representing a scene in its entirety and then subtract everything from it, stripping the subject to the bone. The bone is the punctum, the crucial element, the only one that can communicate the message.
When did you start working this way? Does it have to do with your first painting?
A.M: Even though I have always been fascinated by figures, the punctum you rightly talk about is the part that excites me the most. It is the only way to get right to the story and then to the pulp. The element you take away with you.
I showed you my first painting, maybe one of the most intimate things I have in this 50sqm. I welcomed you into my space, and it seemed right to me to show you what is hidden behind my walls. I was 7/8 years old when I decided to portray my school cook. That painting remained for several years in the dust of my studio in Rome. One day, my grandfather saw this childish canvas and decided to cover it with a layer of white stucco. Wounded, I asked him why he did it. He told me, “Well, now you can use it to make new paintings”. It was an extremely violent action, but this subtraction allowed me to imagine new situations starting from that nothing, from that erased past. This is perhaps the most important work for the .jpeg series. Maybe one day I will use it.
«One day, my grandfather saw this childish canvas and decided to cover it with a layer of white stucco. Wounded, I asked him why he did it. He told me, “Well, now you can use it to make new paintings”.»
J.S: What painting techniques do you use? Do you think that this choice is also part of the broader thought that brings your paintings to completion?
A.M: As you know, I’m not really interested in technique. I do not feel fatigue when I paint, and my hand goes on and on without any brakes. I use acrylic because the drying times are extremely fast and, when I paint, I have no patience. I prefer to take more time to observe the work in progress while lying on my sofa. In addition, I also choose acrylic to challenge the gradients that cover the figurative surface. I don’t have the physical time to retouch anything. If the nuances do not come as I want, I have to throw it away. I don’t want to retouch something that already had its life.
J.S: Transience, frailty, and failure: usually the contemporary man escapes those feelings to feel worthy of an increasingly demanding society, while you tackle them as a quality of creative activity. Is error often the starting point for a great intuition?
And what is the role of color in the whole?
A.M: Lately, I have been talking about this topic with the curators of the project “Da Franco - Senza Appuntamento”. We made a fanzine with a theoretical essay by Laura Amann where we started right from this concept. We are all entrepreneurs, and society does not allow us to make any mistakes under any circumstances. We must always be brilliant, victorious, and never defeated. I have often been wrong, I have frequently crashed, but I have always been able to start again after having introjected everything there was to learn.
For the fanzine, I submitted four pages that fragmented a pop-flavored writing: “ADAPT OR DIE.”: a fragmentation, then a synthesis generated by the full stop at the end of the sentence. The bright color naturally embraced these words, softening their violence. Even fishes camouflage themselves with the surrounding environment to get to their prey more easily. Like them, I camouflage scenes with those bright colors that society – always frightened of failure – likes so much.
J.S: What plans do you have for the future? I know that you will be part of a group show, as well as a solo show.
A.M: In this phase, I put my brushes on hold to delve into all the books I had in the library. I am working on various projects both in Italy and abroad. In autumn, I will take part in a series of group shows, in a solo show at Dimora Artica, and I will be working on a new project in Belgium. Let’s say that I am going all out for the sake of art.