Painting – living language. Interviewed by Damiano Gullì on Artribune

Painting – living language. Elisa Filomena’s turn

Living, dead or X? The 42nd appointment with the column dedicated to contemporary painting, in all its forms and facets, through the words of some of the most interesting Italian artists: from “expanded” painting, to contamination and disciplinary slips to dialogue with comics and illustration, up to reviewing and distorting of traditional techniques and iconographies.

Elisa Filomena (Turin, 1976) graduated in Painting at Turin’s Academy of Fine Arts. Among the recent exhibitions, the solo Diario notturno (Nocturnal diary) at Circoloquadro contemporary art gallery in Milan in 2019 and the nationwide group exhibition Selvatico (tredici) at the Luigi Varoli Museum of Cotignola in 2018. She has also exhibited in solo and group shows in the following locations: Ferrovie Creative in Carpi (2019), Zaion Gallery in Biella (2019), Ridotto del Cinema De Seta at Cantieri Culturali della Zisa in Palermo, Palazzo ducale in Pavullo nel Frignano (2018), Kommunale Galerie of Mörfelden-Walldorf – Frankfurt (2018), Tornielli Museum in Ameno (2018), MARS in Milan (2018), Tino Ghelfi Gallery & L’Officina Arte Contemporanea in Vicenza, Bocca Bookshop in Milan (2017), Selected in many art contests among which: Combat Prize (2018), Vittorio Viviani Prize (2018), Carlo Bonatto Minella Prize in 2011 and Cesare Pavese Painting Prize (2008).


How did you approach painting?

Ever since I remember, I used to draw on the walls, behind the carpets… but on paper sheets too, of course! After that followed the art school and the Turin’s Academy of Fine Arts, that I have always aspired to. The will and the creative torment have mixed with all this over the years to come.


Which are the masters and artists you follow?

I have always had the opportunity, with my family, to visit a great part of the artistic heritage that we have in Italy and in Europe. I remember a visit to the Orvieto Cathedral with my father and I have Signorelli right in front of me. I remember that in 1998 I went to Tulln, Egon Schiele’s birthplace, with which I was madly in love. His house was right above the railway, his father was a stationmaster. Every time I heard the train pass, I felt Egon alive next to me. Over the years, I have accumulated experiences that I refer to all the time, even though it is always a persistent quest. Recently, I have read Musa Mayer’s Night Studio, and I lived through Philip Guston. Currently, I am following my contemporary fellow artists. I feel that there is a strong bond between different painters, a link that marks the current period. […]


Do cinema, music, literature affect your imagination and poetry?

Cinema has a constant influence. For example, Alfred Hitchcock’s films with Bernard Herrmann’s music lead me to a complete rapture towards artistic creation. Music is an emotional sprint; literature is the bearer of images. I love cinema and the great directors are my legends, I could not live without. […]


What does studio work mean for you?

During the period in which I tried to have a studio, I ended up living there. Painting is always in my mind and when I am not actually working, the thoughts are doing the job. I save the energy for painting during the night. By day, everything is aimed at having the right concentration to deal with painting during the night, here’s the reason for which the studio has become a domestic environment. The night, which for me is the fundamental sap of the artistic focus, becomes a timeless moment through which I feel a more lively creativity. […]


What does painting mean nowadays?

Painting is an atavistic means of expression, an inseparable part of human nature, which transcends and goes beyond the limits of time. I would ask the question of what does it mean to be an artist nowadays. The answer is that if you are an artist, by all means, you have to honour this task. It can be easily understood how important it is in this society to give due value to artists.


What do you think of the Italian contemporary painting scene?

What I experienced in the recent years of my life made me actually realise how deep and important the Italian contemporary paintings is, and this column proves it. High quality painting exists and is alive. The artists are continually working. I feel that there is a solid ground on which to develop a wider discourse. A great living pictorial heritage is leaving its mark.


10th June 2019

The full interview by Damiano Gullì is posted on Artribune: