Interview with: Marilena Ramadori
Marilena Ramadori, aka Zizza, was born in 1965 in Montegiorgio (FM). After completing her scientific studies, she graduated in Architecture at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" and subsequently attended the postgraduate course in History of Architectural Design. In 2003 she obtained a European master's degree in History of Architecture at the "Roma Tre" University and completed the process with an internship at the Superintendence for Architectural Heritage and Landscape of Rome. She collaborated with the publishing house Orienta Edizioni as a scientific consultant and in 2011 she published as author the volume entitled Manual of the floors. In 2014 she approaches painting and at the same time also experiments with sculpture. In 2017 and 2018 she attended the painting courses held by Prof. Fabrizio dell'Arno at the RUFA (Rome University of Fine Art), which were crucial for continuing her artistic career with greater awareness and knowledge. In her works, the traits of her training emerge in fact at the center of her research is architecture.
She has participated in various national and international exhibitions of painting and sculpture, obtaining various prizes and awards. In 2020 she is among the thirty finalists of the 14th Arte Laguna Prize.
She lives and works in Velletri.
Welcome Marilena, 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?
I have always been fascinated by art and above all by drawing. More than an artist or an artwork, what inspired me when I was little was my father. His attitude towards drawing, the technical tables of his alumni he corrected, the skill of his hands over rulers and squares when the computer was still not widely used. Then there were his freehand drawings, capable of reproducing, as if by magic, any subject. In my eyes as a child, and today in those of a woman, these are the works of art that I jealously keep in my heart.
And then? How have your approach and references changed growing up?
The choice of my training path and in particular some courses at the Faculty of Architecture in Rome, where I graduated, stimulated my interests even more. It is with Drawn Architecture, with theories on the autonomy of sign and drawing in architecture that I discover and broaden my horizons. Among the interpreters Aldo Rossi, Arduino Cantafora, Massimo Scolari in Milan and Rome Franco Purini and Carlo Aymonino, were important in my student growth. Deepening the relationship between artistic language and architectural design, I discovered Mario Sironi and his Urban Landscapes. The architectural feeling shines through in each of his works: in the power and essentiality of the forms, in the choice of colors and in the use of aerial perspective. Also in Aldo Rossi's 1950's Vedute Milanesi, I find the same industrial suburbs, the same urban landscapes painted by Sironi: the use of color, the wings of the buildings symbolizing an essential architecture, devoid of frills, where the window is a hole because its function is solely and exclusively to let the light in. These are my points of reference and my inspirations.
How would you describe your practice to someone who doesn't know you? What are the recurring elements, themes and concepts you refer to?
In my works I try to narrate architecture by highlighting its expressive qualities and the essentiality of the forms. Architecture thus becomes not only construction but interpretation. Art is always architecture understood as a constructive force.
In my paintings I try to combine the charm of the purity of the lines and the clarity of the architectural forms, indebted to the immobile clarity of the metaphysical forms of De Chirico, a certain expressive freedom of the background of the canvas that continuously comes into contact with the architecture I draw and paint trying to create a play of transparencies, lights and shadows. The vertical drippings do not hide the legibility of the represented image but with this expressive freedom I try to put the buildings under a new perspective, transforming them into iconographic impressions, creating a painting between figuration and abstraction. I try to use the fluid pictorial material, the transparent color to show the different layers of the painting so that this work can be able to narrate the phases of its realization.
Usually each artist has a different modus operandi, what is yours? How did your projects start and how do they develop?
I try to see the painting as a project, the first thing I face is the useful and necessary historical research to better understand the architectural subjects on which I decide to work. The historical references, the idea that produced them and their expressive power constitute the motivation for which I try to undertake what I call a narration, a tale made of images and words that help me to contextualize the work and understand its intrinsic value. The series on the Palazzine Romane (Roman buildings), an urban phenomenon that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s as the residence of the emerging bourgeoisie, was dictated by the desire to make known a forgotten Rome: a historical period in which architects and engineers had a utopian vision and they had managed to give Rome the image of a modern city. The Palazzina, in the years of reconstruction, became the protagonist of the new urban fabric of Rome, making it overcome the concept of the nineteenth-century city: trying to put "particular" paintings of this open-air archive on my canvases was like rediscovering a forgotten "value" and proposing it in a contemporary key.
The compositional study of the work is also very important to me and above all I try to create in the canvas a personal shot of the architecture that I choose to represent. I prefer perspective views from the bottom upwards where the eye meets the drippings that descend, thus creating a play of light and shadows and a sort of "suspension" of the represented image. This perspective view that I try to represent leads me above all to remember man's need to turn his eyes to the sky to contemplate its immensity.
What function do you attribute to your works and why?
Buildings have always accompanied humanity and trying to investigate their expressive language becomes the aim of my research.
It is a kind of journey to be shared with others through a variety of stories where the building, or parts of it, are the protagonist. I try to interpret architecture by leaving room for imagination. Architectures of a recent past, sometimes suspended and timeless but ready to be questioned in order to grasp their modernity. My work could be photographic but I think painting offers something more as a means of expression thanks to color and personal interpretation.
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 started painting later in my life, but it is with painting that I felt strong emotions. What is hidden behind a brushstroke is not just a gesture but hides a state of mind that conditions color and formal choices. I would like to think of my works as a narrative capable of stimulating those who want to observe them to understand, by looking, the important transformations that have taken place in the urban fabric of our country. As Aldo Rossi wrote, "architecture is the fixed scene of human affairs, charged with the feelings of entire generations, public events, private tragedies, new and ancient facts". It is with this conviction and with the awareness that every architecture conceals symbolic and emotional meanings that I began to paint, approaching this world that had always fascinated me.