PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALIN KOVACS
STYLING BY ALESSANDRA CONTI
INTERVIEW BY CARLOTTA BUOSI
The strength of Romana Londi’s stroke, the liquidity of her medium and the intensity of the colours she chooses are all translated in her work. Irish-Italian artist, Romana in the last few years has focused in the use of unprimed materials for her painting, playing with sunlight to create an incredibly unique series: the Colour Changing paintings. Sunlight being the primary condition for life on heart, the temperament and emotion, purely human emotion, transmitted by these works - which we were lucky enough to see up close as we visited Romana’s studio in Shoreditch, East London - is evident and overwhelmingly beautiful. Looking at the Colour Changing paintings - which were mostly inspired by the artist’s personal experience of living simultaneously in different countries, often separated from her beloved ones, connected only through virtual means - captured us. It also made us reflect on the meaning of art, in general, and of the work we were experiencing, in particular. We finally realised that we were witnessing the birth of a completely new language, right under our eyes. A language which doesn’t have boundaries - think of the limitations and necessary abstractness when trying to describe colours - and which would allow us to express feelings with no restriction whatsoever. A language which would speak of experiences rather than objects. A language to mirror life. We were also lucky enough to speak with Romana about her paintings, which she thinks of as nothing but metaphors for the enigma of truth, among other things. Almost like a mindscape.
Romana, tell us something about yourself and your background.
I’m a painter, my family is Italian, Irish and partly French. I have 6 sisters and two brothers based in three countries and I am the second to last, along with my twin sister. We are all different, both physically and personality-wise. Growing up, art has always been part of our daily life and original thinking was most encouraged. I remember asking my dad about his favorite painting. His answer? ‘It’s a window’.
When did you start thinking of art as your profession?
My first commitment to working as an artist was coming to London to study art at Central Saint Martin. This was ten years ago. I never looked back.
How long did it take you to develop your language as an artist?
I am first and foremost a painter. My practice is rooted within the painting conversation. I have a vocabulary more than a language. Since 2009 I’ve focused on unprimed materials, which makes it difficult for me to envision the final result of my painting. Either I work on one side of a panel and present the negative imprint of the painted surface (as with From Hand to Mouth and I Came Undone) or I paint on both sides and let each side guide the other (as with the series Happenstance).
Do you feel like you’ve found it or do you think of your work as continuously evolving?
Painting is a sensual experience. It’s ongoing and ever evolving. I like to think of my works as showcasing the consequences of my attempted painting. Also, I like for my work to be inclusive, rather than specific: it should be open to perception and interpretation.
What are your main influences today versus when you started.
I started in a very old fashion way. I studied the craft, and learn its various styles and mediums. Eventually, I longed for a more fluid approach: I was influenced by the Arte Povera movement, but also methods, rituals, ways of being. At present, with my most recent series Colour Changing Painting, I know I am being informed by nature, architecture, landscape and virtual reality.
Tell us about the evolution of your art and how did you start developing the Colour Changing medium.
The series Colour Changing was inspired by a chance experience with my indoor plants, whose survival was dictated by their position in the room and exposure to light. I had displayed them in a decorative manner, ignoring the consequences, and when they died I was puzzled. This has inspired me to make works which could be just as beautiful and vulnerable, and that could mirror their immediate surrounding. The Colour Changing paintings react to specific types of light and intensity, most commonly ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is present in sunlight.
The painting’s color shades drastically change according with their installation and time of the day. Eventually, geography and nature have the final word on my very human attempt.
How would you define contemporary art? What is, in your opinion, its relevance in the spectrum of all currents and art movements?
I belong to one of the last generations to be considered pre-internet. But right now, we are all part of the most fast-paced and interconnected reality in human history. We are overwhelmed by information and It’s easy to be nostalgic, but I feel blessed to have been born with a sense of freedom. We feel entitled to it, but it was not always a given. I love how all arts have been trying to merge, join forces. Fashion, for example, is still naively misunderstood and undermined, but it’s pure self expression, it’s accessible to everyone and constantly breaking boundaries.
Do you believe the one of an artist can still be an alive profession? What are the struggles versus what are the perks?
Art is part of human nature. Society needs artists. We need creativity, imagination. Think of the age of enlightenment. I feel artists can create a perk out of the struggle. As for now, where there’s a wall, there sure will be graffiti.
If you could give one precious piece of advice to all young, aspirant artists, what would it be?
There is no advice which helps as much as making mistakes, but listening to what fulfills you at the same time. Art is an individual expression and there are no short cuts. I think, no matter what you decide to do in life, being persistent outgrows talent. We live in highly pressured time. Forget about success and learn about self preservations, faith and love. An artist should cultivate these and foster culture.
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