Interview with: Giulia Pellegrini
Giulia Pellegrini (1990), after studying Pharmacology, received a Bachelor’s degree in Paintings and Visual Arts and a Master's degree in Visual Arts and Curatorial Studies, both at the Naba in Milan. At the art residency Dolomiti Contemporanee she started her research about the traces left by the pigments hidden in her ice sculptures. Since 2017 she works on the “breath of the tree” and she elaborated a personal technique to make it visible. From this series, Scrivere con la luce (Writing with light) was selected for JCE International Biennale of Contemporary Art and it’s now traveling around Europe (Denmark, France, Latvia, Spain, Portugal, and Italy); during the art residency Radici, she focused on a polyphony of plant’s breaths found in the Centro di Palmetta’s garden. She is currently developing a dismountable and transportable structure that will host her art pieces grouped by specific topics.
Welcome Giulia, I would like to start this interview from the beginning, do you remember which artist or which artwork moved something inside you when you were a child?
Good morning, it is a real pleasure for me to respond.
I started drawing when I was two and given my age, I had no references. I loved drawing animals, plants and I was attracted by the anatomical illustration that I met in the encyclopedias because they allowed me to discover and understand more about the human being. Nonetheless, I remember how much a particular painting fascinated me: The Three Ages of Woman by Gustave Klimt. I was attracted to the old woman's body because she was able to tell a story.
Today, I think that painting was more important than I thought for my poetry.
And then? how have your approach and references changed growing up? How much has school education affected your art?
Art, until I was twenty, was just the most beautiful pastime. I had attended scientific high school and when I was twenty I was in Pavia studying to become a pharmacist. Although I loved chemistry, physiology, anatomy, I felt an emptiness inside of me. Therefore, I decided to enroll in the New Academy of Fine Arts (NABA) in Milan and transform the knowledge acquired in the scientific field into something new. Starting from that moment of greater awareness about my person and about what I would do from that moment on, I began to take an interest (being fascinated) in some artists
such as Giuseppe Penone, Maria Lai, and Tacita Dean, who still remain my mentors today.
How would you describe your practice to someone who doesn't know you? what are the recurring elements, themes, concepts you refer to?
My interest is in the complex dialogue that exists between the human body and nature, the transformations affecting these two biological entities that are linked to a temporal cyclicity. In my works, Human being and Nature lose their identity to correspond and to include each other.
Usually each artist has a different modus operandi, what is yours? how did your projects start and how do they develop?
Often it all begins with a good book: reading is not only fuel for my mind and soul, but it becomes a chisel that can shape my ideas. The latter takes shape through the choice of the most suitable material. I prefer to use natural materials often able to transform, as in the case of ice. Another element present in my works is the thread: I believe in the power of this element for its ability to tell stories, to challenge the heaviness of matter and the laws of gravity.
What function do you attribute to your works and why?
I firmly believe that the work must be a combination of rationality - it must be born out of necessity - and feeling. I intend to be able to tell a story, to generate thoughts. The synthesis of thought is very important, as is the process that generated it. Often the process becomes itself the subject of the work, as in the case of “What a rock
We are at the end of this short interview, would you like to add something about your research and your art that has not emerged previously?
I would like to tell you about a project I have been working on for a year. I designed a modular and transportable container “the Structure” to tell different interpretations of a series of topics recurring throughout my artistic production. It is a cube, a free and open space in which the support and the works dialogue, creating different compositions each time. I imagined this container as a metaphor for the human body: it measures 230x230 cm, as my height with outstretched arms. Each material is linked to a part of the body, suggesting specific feelings: the strength and oxidation properties of the iron knots evoke the body articulations; the stability of the larch wood frame recalls the human skeleton. The color and velvety surface of the birch wood represent a person’s skin. The uniqueness of the structure is to be nurtured by the art pieces which it is hosting: it becomes a home, an intimate place, able to accommodate a
few spectators at a time. Besides showing my artworks, I am interested in inviting other artists to join this space and start a meaningful dialogue.