Descrizione Opera / Biografia
Stefano and Claudio came to Giudecca to sit for me on the 7th December 2019. We had been talking about doing a painting together for about a year or so. When the day finally arrived, I realised I was quite nervous. That is probably what’s thrilling with painting someone directly from life. It’s a bit like going on stage, with the adrenaline rushing just before, and a sense of relief when it’s all done.
Stefano and Claudio are originally from Naples and Cagliari have been a couple for a few years and live together in Venice. They both came here to study visual arts and they are now both involved with the contemporary art world, doing research and writing.
When they visit me in the studio, I’m always struck by how they seem fascinated about the quite rough working environment. It flatters me each time they want me to take out and display their favourite painting, a portrait from a few years ago of my Iranian-Austrian friend reading with a naked torso, immersed in a duvet.
‘Painting a portrait’ for me means trying to be inspired by somebody’s personal expression and way of taking up space in the room rather than physical likeness. This is what I strive to capture when somebody sits for me. It feels important to observe the natural in small changes of positions, body language and movements.
Stefano and Claudio’s natural way of being physically close to each other is a testimony of their habit of each other’s’ company after a few years together. My aim with the painting is to try and express their way of being present with me in the room that day. I’m interested in their way of talking quietly with each other, nearly as if they suddenly forgot I was there in the room with them.
The reciprocal trust makes it easy to concentrate. They have brought several fashion journals and newspapers with them and seem prepared for a calm day. I appreciate how carefully they have chosen their clothes for the day. Their outfits are colourful and quite matching. We agree that too much black would have been boring for the final picture.
Sometimes we talk and sometimes we are quiet. A conversation about the difficulty of living together as a couple today when each part has different dreams and ambitions turns into a private discussion about one of them thinking too much about their work and being too egocentric. The other one threatens to go travelling on his own if change doesn’t happen within the nearest future. But it is evident this is a repeated subject, and it all dies out and we start listening to a podcast about Madonna instead.
The sitting is limited to a day, and I don’t touch the painting since they have left the room. In this way, it naturally becomes a work of collaboration. I try not to think critically or analyse too much while I work, important is instead to trust my intuition when decisions must be taken about brushstrokes, colour and composition.
During the day we had two coffee breaks, lunch, and then a beer to celebrate. They asked me to come out with them later, but like always when painting someone from life, I am too exhausted to do anything else afterwards, except being very happy we made it in the end.
Sophie Westerlind (Stoccolma 1985) si è laureata presso Central Saint Martins’ (BA) nel 2011 e presso Royal College of Art (MA) nel 2013, Londra. Il suo interesse per interpretare il linguaggio del corpo umano e le relazioni interpersonali l’ha portata all’Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia (MA 2018) per svolgere una ricerca approfondita sulla potenziale espressiva del corpo umano.
I suoi dipinti e disegni riflettono la sensibilità e l’attenzione che pone verso le persone e il loro modo di esprimersi. Gli esseri umani e i luoghi quali testimonianza di una presenza intima sono i temi principali della sua pratica artistica.
Le persone prese dalla sua vita quotidiana sono una grande fonte di ispirazione e costituiscono il tema della sua ricerca pittorica attuale. In una serie (in progress) di ritratti dipinti dal vero si focalizza non tanto su una restituzione somigliante della persona ma sul cercare di comunicare l’espressione personale.
Posano per Sophie amici, familiari ma anche conoscenti, persone che a diverso titolo e nella vita di tutti i giorni diventano per lei importanti. Non c’è una regola per affrontare il ritratto, infatti le sessioni possono svolgersi in silenzio, o conversando e normalmente durano a lungo anche per permetterle di instaurare una relazione con la persona ritratta. La fiducia reciproca consente a Sophie di osservare i movimenti sottili, moti d’animo, dettagli evocativi e di muoversi e condividere uno spazio ristretto. Sophie si affida all’intuizione e cerca di esprimere le sue sensazioni in modo tale da trasferire un’emozione allo spettatore.
Ha di recente esposto al Museo Diocesano di Feltre in collaborazione con Dolomiti Contemporanee. In Svezia nel 2019 ha esposto al Liljevalchs Konsthall e al Gustav III:s Antikmuseum.
Vive e lavora fra Venezia e Stoccolma.