Ask the artist: Elisabetta Maistrello

We open this Spring 2021 with the Chromatic Eccentrism of Elisabetta Maistrello, born in Vicenza but resident in Padua for a long time, who makes the colour palette explode in her female portraits. With her sensitivity and thanks to her technical precision, the artist has arrived at a pictorial synthesis of undeniable charm and gives life to figurative works of strong visual and emotional impact. The sumptuous use of the material, the careful luminous vibrations and the rapid, instinctive and expressionistic gesture given by the perfect combination of spatula strokes, decisive and harmonious, and light touches on the tip of the brush, make Elisabetta Maistrello’s artistic production of wide international scope. Already known in America, Russia, China and France, the Italian artist is now present in the Netherlands with the Contemporary Italian Art in Netherlands project supported by the Manzoni Kunst Galerie in Oosterwolde.

But let us finally move on to the interview:

You are a child of the goldsmith world and, although you are a goldsmith yourself, you also express yourself in painting: how and when did your love for pictorial art, and particularly for female portraits, come about?

In a word, atypical. I am what you call a self-taught artist. I have always felt a vein of art pulsing in my blood. I breathed in the art of goldsmithing thanks to the family business from a very young age and over time I expressed this creativity in jewellery making. But painting is my true artistic nature. I did not attend any academies or art schools; however, I felt a strong desire to undertake studies, so I turned to Vincenzo Ursoleo, a master from Vicenza, and I was his pupil for four years. I also experimented with Luigi Pellanda’s hyperrealism, but realising from the start that it was not my genre, I took home many ideas for what would become my personal art form. I was looking for my own stylistic vein and studying the greats of the past I realised that some resonated with me more than others, I had to understand why. With time I found my mood, my stylistic code that expresses well who I am and what I want to communicate with my works. I have always defined myself as an expressionist, an instinctive and gestural artist. I have created a neologism with my works that I have called Chromatic Eccentris.

In your canvases you represent women and their multi-faceted souls, but who inspires you? Do you have models? Tell us about your protagonists…

My favourite subject is the portrait of a woman with which I convey the range of emotions known to us. When a person looks at one of my works they are not looking for subliminal messages, they read themselves as I read the emotion that drove me to make that particular face. In every painting there is a hidden me that comes out of the unconscious. Everyone can identify with what they feel the moment they look at it and, strange as it may seem, it could change from one day to the next. It is no coincidence that I always paint portraits, it could be called an obsession and that is why I wanted to do some research. Scholars of the psyche have defined it as an inordinate desire to search for the self. It can really be a journey of my unconscious to search for emotions that I do not recognise, parts of myself that have been hidden until now. I believe that every artist, while painting, travels a road within himself, everything can be defined as a self-portrait of the soul, even a landscape painting, an abstract work or an expressionist painting. There are no studies behind my paintings, no particular characters that inspire me or circumstances that enlighten me. I paint when my instinct tells me to, and it just so happens that my instinct always comes from my deepest self.

Let’s talk about your painting technique, which is constantly evolving, as your latest production demonstrates. Your art is figurative and you prefer an expressionistic manner: what does colour mean to you? How do you choose the colours for your subjects? How do you apply it?

The importance of colour is stated in the very name I have chosen for my painting style, “Chromatic Eccentrism”, an expression that combines the centrifugal thrust of the brushstrokes with the power of colour. The brushstrokes are short and thick, often textured, and seem to recall on a large scale the delicate strokes of the chisel, a tool I used in my previous career as a gold and silver jeweller. I have translated the characteristics of this age-old art into painting, transforming the chisel into the fine brush that carves and digs into the black of the eyes, and leaving the white, which seems to emerge in relief, the task of giving light to the gaze and the entire figure. With a quick gesture and in an instinctive way, I apply touches of colour to the canvas, giving form to the formless. Here there is no need for contour lines, except for the barely visible ones that form the shadow of the face. Then the volume creates itself. The colour is loose, without form, pasty and tenacious on the canvas, but held together by a force that forces it into form and makes it emerge from the monochrome background, mostly light, which can be glimpsed below and behind the figure as an additional colour. I do not choose the colour, it is the colour that chooses me in an unconscious and instinctive way.

Your portraits are in great demand overseas. Have you ever had a particular commission, perhaps on a different medium? You could become a contemporary “Rosalba Carriera”…

I receive a lot of requests, but no one has ever asked for a particular medium because it is in keeping with my style at the time. On the other hand, I am the one who never stops experimenting and studying new techniques; to date, I have used various supports from canvas to vitrified aluminium and other materials.
It would be a great honour to become a contemporary “Rosalba Carriera”, she is an artist I appreciate very much but I do not consider myself at her very high level.

You founded the “Arte in Movimento” project to bring your art onto the street. Would you tell readers what it is about?

The project is ARTE DA INDOSSARE, ARTE IN MOVIMENTO (ART TO WEAR, ART IN MOVEMENT), which is an outfit that you wear and then frame when you feel it’s time to do so. It is not a garment but a real work of art, hand-painted, certified, numbered and unique (each hand-painted image is unique and is not repeated in any other garment). Practically, by wearing a painting, you become an integral part of the work and, together with me, you become the promoter of ARTE IN MOVIMENTO: not a static work of art hanging on a wall, but a work of art that walks in the streets, in the streets, in the squares; wherever you want. This idea was born with an emotional sale in mind, and to restore a symbolic value to contemporary art.

Thanking Elisabetta Maistrello for her total availability, I would like to remind readers that they can also view the artist’s works on the website criticoarte.org Elisabetta Maistrello – Italian art by ELisa Manzoni, and below you will find a video showing the Art to Wear project.

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