JOSEPH MEETS //
JOSEPH MEETS //
To Hackney, for an afternoon’s escape into the world of artist ROMANA LONDI. Over tea and an in-depth tour of her home and studio, we caught up with Romana, fresh from the Venice Biennale, who talked us through her latest inspiration, London tips and styling advice for those prone to paint stains…
HAPPENSTANCE I (2014) Double sided painting – oil on unprimed cotton, Side A | Side B , 200 x 150 cm
my aesthetics are reminiscent of my upbringing in the city
What were your formative artistic influences?
I grew up in Rome and I think my aesthetics are reminiscent of my upbringing in the city. My father would regularly bring us to the museums and I remember making him stop in the streets to contemplate a new found pearl, be it the shade of a building in the street or a pink light in the sky at dawn. But I also feel my Irish side had a great influence on my approach to life and to my artwork; the Irish prairies, the wind on the cliffs, poetry and limericks.
When did you become an artist?
I remember my twin sister and I were commissioned to make a mural for the entrance wall of our school, aged 7. Since then I’ve always considered us artists and traded myself on anything I’ve made. Drawings, poems, small plays, dolls’ dresses made out of old socks… I studied political science and law, which was enriching in many ways, but I found it frustrating. I wanted to work within a system where I could make a tangible difference, charity maybe. But it was through art in its many forms that I learned to appreciate and love my surroundings. It was a gentle transition, and I submitted humbly to it before finally applying to study fine art at Saint Martins.
Which artists have inspired you?
I endlessly love the works of Cy Twombly, Blinky Palermo, Gerhard Richter, Brice Marden, Richard Long, Anselm Kiefer, Louise Bourgoies, Frances Bacon, Diego Velasquez…just too many to list..
a conversation between both sides of the painting
Tell us more about your choice of material. Why are those large un-primed cotton sheets also vital to your artwork?
By painting on unprimed surfaces, I allow the material to absorb each brushstroke in an autonomous and unpredictable manner on both sides of the canvas. This approach was born from a desire to conceive a painterly formula, where abstract expressionism can be distilled from its sole representational quality and grow to epitomize the raw, anti-artificial properties best captured by the Arte Povera movement. I am interested in the way my intentions are translated by the fabric. The amount of pressure applied, the consistency, the length, and exact shape of each mark acquires a different significance, becoming signs, traces, and opening up to a different kind of reading, of language. I only show either the negative imprint of the work or, if I’ve worked on both sides then I show both sides simultaneously, which I’ve started to do recently. This creates a conversation between the two sides of the painting, both sides are cyclically active and passive, original and negative, raising the question: what can we really regard as ‘official’ and as ‘unofficial’? What is the image and what is the reflection? I think it also creates a sense of displacement for the viewer who experiences both sides of the work, back and forth, past and future.
Do you have a favourite painting here in the studio?
I never start a painting with an image in mind, I am sometimes inspired by a word, sometimes a gesture, or other times the nature of the fabric I am working on, so every work is a journey. Some pieces take years, some take a day, they are all special as they all informed me as much as I try form them.
HAPPENSTANCE VI (2014)
Double sided painting – mixed media on unprimed cotton. Side A | Side B. 136 X 184 cm
Nappa leather Wellington in off white
it's at night i feel bravest
Tell us more about your first solo exhibition
My first solo exhibition came very unexpectedly. I am very much the reclusive painter, locked in my studio, so it is thanks to my friends who have been very present and encouraging. They sent my work to the director at Rove Gallery and in a week time I was offered a solo show in one of the greatest spaces in east London. It was very intense as I had to make nine large scale paintings in three weeks’ time but it completely changed my approach to exhibiting. I now think of it more as an experiment rather than the final stage of my work.
What do you require of your working space?
It really depends on what I need to work on. I have learned to work under any circumstance, I tend to adjust to what is available, as I think art can be born of escapism, or out of a misunderstanding, or as part of a celebration. I welcome any unexpected moment of inspiration and I always keep with me a diary to write and draw ideas. My ideal scenario and indulgence, however, is to work late in the evening or to rise early and work in complete solitude and silence. It’s at night that I feel bravest. It’s a stolen time.
What inspires you about London?
The multicultural element really appeals to me. I am half Italian, half Irish, but at this stage I consider myself a Londoner. I came to London ten years ago and I am ever grateful to this city for everything that it has offered me. I don’t think there is any other city in Europe at present that gives so much opportunity to the young. Each neighbourhood in London has a special side to it. I am now based in Hackney, where I’m surrounded by wonderfully talented people from all over.
i have a dangerous attraction to anything in white
What do you wear at work-at play
I am a tomboy and my practice requires comfortable clothing so when I can I love to dress up. I am a jeans and T-shirt person. But at present I have a very dangerous attraction to anything in white which is obviously very daring given everything I own is stained with paint.
Favourite restaurants in London?
I love going to Brawn in Columbia Road, the menu is always changing and surprising me, as for Italian food Assagi is the best to me. I love Japanese and I recently found a gem sushi restaurant in west London. The Shiori is a real treat.
I follow the diaries of many interesting galleries such as T293 in Rome, Laura Bartlett and The Approach Gallery in East London, Agnes B in Paris, and The Project Lab in Milan. I also love Pilar Corrias, she’s not only a great gallerist but she has a very inspiring dedication to her team of artists and her own vision.
What is next?
At present I’m working towards a solo show in Mexico City for November 2015. It will be held in a wonderful neighbourhood called Colonia Roma. I am curious to see how my works will respond to this new scenario.