Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Elisa Carutti on painting in an interview with Art Historian Ruth Polleit Riechert
Elisa Carutti was born in Milan in 1991. She owns a BA Degree in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, Milan (2014), and a MFA from Slade School of Fine Arts, UCL, London (2018). Her work has been exhibited in UK, Italy, France and Greece. She received several awards (e.g. ERASMUS Bursary at Ecole Nationale Superieure de Beaux Arts in Paris in 2013) and took part in residencies abroad. Her works were published internationally in the Spring Issue 2018 of the Art Maze Mag, London.
When did you start working as an artist and why?
I was born in a family where there is lot of sensitivity for the arts in general; many of my family members worked and still do in the creative world from the architecture to the product design and fashion. My aunt used to work for the main theatre of Milan called Piccolo Teatro and she would encourage me a lot to pursue an artistic career. Her mother studied at the Academy of Brera back in the 40’s but she never fully realised to be a professional artist as she dedicated her life to be wife and mother. Although, she taught me how to draw still lives from natural compositions and those time spent whilst drawing in silence are still fresh in my mind like her beautiful drawings of chestnuts. I loved drawing and copying from nature most of all, I found it very relaxing and it happened I wasn’t so bad at it, so it was natural for me to follow what I liked to do.
What impact did your first art school have? What did you make leave your home country Italy and come to London? In what way did Slade influence your work or not?
My first art school was the Fine Arts Academy of Brera in my hometown Milan. I still think of my years during the BA as a very tough time for my career; I didn’t know what I liked anymore, I was very insecure of showing my work to people and at that time in Milan there was still a bit of conceptualism in the way we approached art. I felt I wasn’t part of that but at the same time I didn’t know where else I could belong. That’s why after I did the Erasmus in Paris I decided to spend more time abroad to see what was going on outside my city. So after graduating from my BA at Brera I applied for a Master in London at the Slade and here I am. The Slade offered me the time to focus on what I wanted to do most of anything else: painting. And I could do this while being surrounded by great friends and artists, exchanging opinions with them and growing artistically together. It was everyday very stimulating living that context and would encourage everybody to think very seriously about our art practice.
Who and what is inspiring you (apart from art schools - Milan, Paris, London - and teachers)?
Well, for some reason I am very attracted by things that we can’t prove whether they really exist or not like the faith in God or for example the celestial phenomenon. Maybe, because like art for me, they function as an escape from the everyday reality and they give me a message of hope.
I am attracted a lot by astronomical images that I see on the newspaper and I always have them in mind when I am working on my paintings. Quiet recently I placed the human figure in the sky without representing it entirely. It’s always a fragment of a face, a single arm or a hand, as I want to paint like things happen in a dream without a logic link, pieces of different scenarios happening all at the same time without a chronological order. In this way I can say that I am influenced by the digital: the impossibility of focusing the attention on just one image because one second later I am attracted by a new one that I want to paint.
Which materials do you work with and which techniques do you prefer?
Right now I am working just with painting and oil colors but in the past I experienced with many different mediums. I love the simplicity of painting, you don’t need too much to make a painting, just canvas, colors and brushes but you can make such great things out of these simple ingredients. Also, I like to play with the tradition and history of this medium, I believe that art’s history is a question of references among the authors that crossing the times, can bring together a middle age work with a contemporary one, for instance. And it’s very interesting to look at art in this way because it means that the human, although it changed the form, it didn’t change the substance of what needs and ultimately can help to understand better the present time and maybe wonder about the future. I am attracted by works that have a character of universality in what they want to say, nevertheless trends because they are able to always say something new to the viewer. That’s why is the time the hardest judge for an artist!
What do you want to say with your art?
As I mentioned earlier, it’s just recently that I introduced the human figure in my work and I am very interested in how I can carry on with this series of painting. Most of all, I would like to push further the futuristic element; I imagine my paintings to be images from the future, what’s left after an apocalypse has taken place. There is a destruction element due to the fragmentation of the human figure that I would like to explore deeper in my research. It’s also evident in the way I work too; fragmented figures are the result of a destructive act during the making of a painting. The biggest achievement for me would be to touch the viewer feelings whilst looking at my painting. Recently, I have seen a show of Antonello da Messina’s paintings and I felt so much mystery in his portraits apart being so beautiful.. For an hour I was immersed in a completely different world, I wouldn’t mind to stimulate that in a viewer of my paintings!
Interview: Ruth Polleit Riechert Photos: Katarzyna Perlak (Header)
Installation Views by Exposed Arts Projects
Read the interview in German on kunstbar.de
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RPR ART // Dr. Ruth Polleit Riechert // Email: email@example.com // Phone: +49 (0)6174-955694