an interview for the brazilian R.Nott Magazine
many thanks to Vinicius F. Barth for his interest in my work and his kindness!
here below, the interview in english
R.Nott Magazine Issue #11 – 11.2014
Interrogatório com Simona Dimitri por Vinicius F. Barth
“Temos que colocar os nossos olhos na mesma linha
dos olhos do outro. Para olhar um pequeno inseto, não
posso fazê-lo senão colocando a minha cara no chão,
mas pode ser também interessante ficar no chão para
ver uma vaca. Aprender a ser uma coisa pequena.”
- how, where, when and why
The story begins at school, I think, I liked to draw, so I attended the Artistic School and then an Illustration School in Milano. But I have to tell you that when I was at school I never felt myself free to express something mine on the paper.
I don't know why and I was not conscious of that, until I have found myself outside the school walls, and I began to move my first steps in the world. I felt myself completely different, and I started to searching for my way, experiencing different techniques and ways of expression, with a lot of happy attempts and (more) bad results!
I took part in some International competitions and sometimes my artworks were selected for the final exhibitions, and in the meantime I worked for advertising and I had my first little collaborations with publishers, by myself in the beginning, and then with an agency. In that period I absolutely wanted to be an illustrator for children books and in the end I did it, more or less, but now this is not anymore my favourite occupation. Maybe because again I feel not free, doing this. I need to express myself in my drawings and the sole way that I found for doing it is working as a painter and sell my original artworks. This is what I love, and only in those pieces of paper or cardboard you can find what really I am and feel.
- Why do you do what you do?
And so doing, I think I have already answered to your second question, I do what I do because I like it! Because I feel the need to tell something but not through words. It happens that the words are misunderstood, it's seems absurd, but it isn't, because we have some mechanism that bring us to judge things as right or wrong, and sometimes we do so with all our prejudice that makes ourselves unable to catch the message. It is as some words are stopped from a sort of "defensive barrier" at the gate of our mind, even before to be listened, with no possibilities then for us to be touched by them. With images it is really different. I can put in my pencil and colours every tiny nuances of my thoughts, in a so imperceptible way, without so strong and edgy shapes as words sometimes have. And so the message have a chance more to be perceived. A nonverbal message can pass through the barriers of our schemes and directly arrive to the perception of the mind, gently, in a conscious or also unconscious way.
- What do you usually hear about your work?
Not too much, I have to say. Some year ago I had an atelier in Italy, it was a place where people could come and visit me while I was at work. It was a very nice experience because I have had a good contact with people and I remember I liked to ask them what they see in a drawing, and what a certain painting brings them to think. It was very interesting for me, and sometimes it was even something extraordinary to discover a completely different view about my own drawings. While I remember an occasion in which my paintings were completely misunderstood. It was some years ago, a blog published a post about my works, they were presented in a very kind and poetic way, but the audience did not appreciate them, and they were commented as a too sugary and shallow way of doing art. Maybe it was not the right place for me.. I thought that they simply didn't understood my thought. Now I haven't changed very much my opinion about that case, but in the meantime my drawing and painting are changed a lot and now I understand better that in the past my artworks were not so clear in their (too hidden!) messages and, maybe, more easily misunderstood. My drawing is changed and also what I want to say is changed, of course all of us are in a constant transformation after all... I hope anyway that my thought could flow more smoothly now and in the future.
- Who are your characters? Where did they come from?
.. such a difficult question!!! Among my characters there are a lot of different animals and among them another strange creature, a kind of winged human being, those wings that bring him back in another kind of relationship with the other beings. In few words, what I would like to represent, especially in this last years, is nothing more then the reality of our nature of living beings, what is not very easily visible to our quick and not so attentive glimpse. We living beings, melted one another, vegetal and animal beings, made by the same material, the same life. To feel this connection means completely changing our point of view. In my drawings I try to make visible what is invisible to the eyes, but it's perceivable from our other senses. And so, in this mood, all the relationships with the world are different, the relationships with other creatures are different, there are no human beings that observe the rest of the Nature from a distant and higher point of view. There are just different living beings connected from the same living sap. I try to say so with a different relation of proportions among the creatures, for example the human being is often a tiny creature compared with other animals, he is in a sort of balance with others, and it seems able to use a kind of mute - or anyway different - language to "speak" with others, as others do. We can't have a real dialogue if we stand on a footstool, I think. We have to put our eyes on the same line of the eyes of the other. To look at a tiny insect, I can't help but put my face on the ground, but it could be also useful staying on the ground and look at a cow, learn to be a little thing.
- What is your process, from creating to publishing?
What I do for publishers it's a completely different thing, as I hinted before, in my case I just do with colours what other people very carefully wrote and designed. They have their needs, and it is more then comprehensible, and I only work to make real their projects. For all the other kind of artworks it's not a matter of a process aimed to publishing, because it is not their purpose, in most of the cases.
About these others, the journey from the mind to the final artworks could be as well very easy or very complex, sometimes I did a lot of sketches, sometimes I go straight on my watercolour paper, or cardboard. Sometimes old and forgotten sketches come back to live just when it is their right moment. Very important for me, is to feel exactly what I have in mind to do, because if I feel it then I will have more possibility to convey the feeling on the paper, and maybe the drawing will conserve this vitality.
- You do work with lots of different materials. Tell us about your preferences (and about the red color, which seems to have an important meaning to you).
The material is a matter of the moment, it's a kind of instinctive choice. In that very moment I think that what I have in mind is more suitable for being expressed in this or this other way. There are more or less three kind of materials that I love to use, and they are watercolours, a mixed media made with pen, cardboard and the colour white, and then the acrylic colours on cardboard or heavier panel. You ask me about the red colour... Sometimes red colour is simply a way to bring attention on a particular thing among the others. Sometime it's just a matter of chromatic equilibrium. Sometimes red colour is the pulsing life, the vital push. Sometimes it is a connecting medium among different subjects, something like a same thin wire. It's not so easy to say, sometimes I am not so conscious about my choices, and it happens to discover later something that, when I did it, was not very clear to myself! Anyway, there are colours for which I have some particular feeling - red is one of them - and then there's the white, the non-colour, for which I feel a very deep fascination.
- How do literature, music, arts and comics relate to your work?
Books, art, and other form of communication that I - as all of us - incessantly absorb from every pore of the skin have of course their influence. Most of the time, in my opinion, it happens in an unconscious way, as something that clings at our brain cells, also without our will. While I remember that sometimes I wanted to translate a piece of music into images, but in those cases the link between them probably was just a idea of mine. Some other times there has been a sentence or a very little piece of a certain book that instantly produced a image in my mind, such a wonderful view, something very strong and vivid, but it has been always very hard in such cases to reproduce that glimpse of mind on the paper, because that glimpse was at the same time very clear and very undefined.
- Tell us a about your work with writing and watercolor. What`s the feeling of painting texts and transforming them into visual compositions?
I feel a very strong attraction for lettering. I love the shapes of letters, I love also the handwriting, though I never did calligraphy as it is usually considered (I feel not very familiar with that kind of forced discipline, though I love to see people doing it, it's very fascinating!). I love write by hand in my notebooks, more than to use a computer or other technological devices. From that substrate are born my artworks made of handwriting with little sticks and watercolours. I like to dip the stick into the watercolour, and see the drop of watery colour follow the way of the stick on the paper, and then maybe add a pinch of another colour in that drop, and wait for the result. This is the magic of the watercolours together with the fascinating gesture of writing, that is something in between the rule and the freedom of each shape.
- What are your future projects?
About the future, I have in mind to start few new collaborations, something similar to my long-standing collaboration with Milonga in Milano, which is a wonderful place where my artworks are exposed for sale, among a lot of other very interesting artists. And then I have to bring to an end a project for a little book, which is ready - to tell the truth - but I have to take just the last decisions about how to present it in its final shape. I look forward to do it and say "ouh, this is the book in the end!" because it already has had a long period of incubation!
- Greatest influences and heroes?
As I told you about books and arts in general, I can't tell something particular about my influences. There's a lot of things, and people, from painters to illustrators, photographers, writers, musicians... I have not an hero, but an incredible huge pile of people and works that I appreciate! And all these fragments together go to form a sort of dough from which comes from, maybe, what I do.
- Anything you always wanted to answer and nobody ever asked you?
Ouh! There's no such a thing, I think, because I usually prefer to speak not too much, leaving instead to my drawings the task to speak for themselves. I hope they will do it better than me!
Simona Dimitri . SIte Oficial: http://www.illusimi.com/
Copyright © 2014 R.NOTT. Todos os direitos reservados.