I recently sat down with ‘Young London Painters’ artist Elisa Carutti to discuss artist residencies, the London art scene, the Slade and her recent paintings. ‘Young London Painters’, featuring Elisa and seven other young artists living and working in London, opens November 22nd at Arthill Gallery, West Brompton.
Hector Campbell: You recently completed an MA in Fine Art from the Slade School of Fine Arts, having previously studied both in Paris and your native Milan. You’ve decided to stay in London a little longer after graduating, what is it that you like about the London art scene? And the city in general?
Elisa Carutti: After completing my studies at the Slade I felt I wanted to stay in London and see what it is like living as an independent artist, outside of that institutional context. I think London attracts the best talents from all over the world, many of whom I have been lucky enough to meet at the Slade and who helped me to improve in my own work. Also, the quality of the exhibitions are generally high, and this is something that constantly stimulates my art.
H.C: In the past, your paintings have explored themes such the integration between organic and architectural forms. Are these themes still having a strong influence on your work? And how did your work evolve over your time at the Slade?
E.C: I would say that I have recently slightly abandoned the rigidity of the geometrical forms, to focus more on the organic and natural ones. However, I have been sure to maintain the surreal element which is always within my work.
My work evolved so much over my time at the Slade, mostly thanks to all the discussion and exchange I had with my peers, tutors and visiting artists. I think the turning point for me, when I decided to substitute the geometry within my work for clouds, happened after I had a tutorial with Allison Katz, who is a visiting artist at the Slade.
H.C: Last year you completed a residency in Granada, Spain with Joya: AiR. How was that experience for you? Did you think it’s important for young artists to travel and experience different cultures?
E.C: Honestly, I believe that the best time to create is when you are away from home. At least that is how it has worked for me so far! I think that confronting yourself with different cultures is always inspiring, it provides a nice distance from your normal routine and with that the freedom to create with fewer worries.
Joya: Air was the ideal residency in this context. It’s located right in the middle of a desert in Spain, which gives you an absolute sense of calm and silence. Making it a perfect place to deeply question your art.
H.C: The ‘Young London Painters’ exhibition aims to shine a light on emerging artists producing work in that medium. What is it you like about painting? Have you ever explored, or do you hope to explore, other mediums?
E.C: I am a big fan of printmaking and etching. My BA show actually focused on a series of etchings! After working on them for some time, although I was enjoying it a lot, I felt I couldn’t progress with that work anymore, it was a dead end. I started missing the freedom that a medium like painting can give, with so little equipment.
That is definitely one of the reasons why I consider painting my favourite medium, and now I am so into it that I don’t have time to dedicate to others. Although I can’t rule out returning to printmaking or even exploring analogical photography in the future, I love working on lights and shadows.
H.C: Finally, could you give us a little insight into the works you’re creating for the upcoming exhibition?
E.C: They are paintings in line with my recent ones. Figures made of clouds integrated within still lives of fruits and flowers, recalling a Baroque imagery combined with the surreal force of unrealistic compositions, not likely to exist in the everyday life but maybe in our dreams…
Opening: November 22nd, 7pm-10pm.
On View: November 23rd & 24th, 10am-5pm.