*Featured photo: #penelope exibiton curated by Margaret Sgarra
Leaves, trunks, imperceptible itineraries made by small insects are just some of the natural subjects explored by Francesca Rossello: a young multi-material visual artist who, through her artistic research, reflects on the natural sphere in order to urge its user to safeguard it.
Graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence in Visual Arts and New Expressive Languages in 2019, Rossello has already participated in numerous group and personal exhibitions and has been selected as a finalist artist for some awards. Hers is a sensitive and aware gaze towards the fragility and strength of the ephemeral elements, something that must be dealt with in order to preserve their future.
Your works are made with different techniques: embroidery, sculpture, photography, just to name a few, but they have the common desire to show the hidden side of nature such as, for example, the inside of a tree or the physical path taken by a snail in the ground. How are your subjects chosen?
The subjects are chosen in a totally random way as well as the mediums I use, I never start from an idea but through the observation of nature I try to translate languages, scripts that I define as natural. I try to be carried away by what I observe, never considering myself as a detached but careful and methodical observer towards a world full of languages, writings and sensations. I place myself as an intermediary between nature and man to try to decipher those languages that otherwise could go unnoticed and forgotten over time.
In your artist research, the natural sphere is the absolute protagonist. How did this bond with nature come about?
Since I was a child I have always been used to playing with the Earth, running in the middle of the fields and observing my surroundings, I have never been a quiet child, but I have always felt the need to explore. For me, the transition from playing to creating works that spoke of nature was natural, immediate or rather a necessity, precisely because it has always been an integral part of my childhood. Today I live in the immensity of the woods, at the foot of Monte Pisano, where nature grows wild and undisturbed, the only borders are the dry stone walls that delimit the area.
“Embrace”, “Soul”, “In dialogue” are some of the titles you have given to your works, they are words connected to the emotional sphere and feelings. There is also a kind of parallelism between the way you perceive human beings and natural elements. How do you deal with this bond in your works and in your life?
I think that man and nature are two eternally connected elements. Man very often sees himself as the “ruler of the world” forgetting that he is the last living creature to appear on Earth. This attitude is also brought about by the very nature of the individual if we think about it well; it moves, thinks, communicates and acts, over time it has built up a wrong idea of itself, considering the rest of the natural sphere an unimportant outline that has led him to feel “omnipotent” or even better to declare himself to be superior. For the human being, plants are simply beings of no importance, a thought, I believe, born of the very nature of plants since they are apparently immobile beings. Their structure is rooted and their fixity has led them to have to react to any type of problem by overcoming any difficulty.This attitude of the natural elements to having to react to a problem and above all to solve it is a very important point for me because I was able to learn from it a life lesson or even better as Hermann Hesse said – “nature speaks to us” – that’s me every time I observe nature I try to listen to it and draw life lessons from it.
The various lockdowns of the last two years have resulted in greater individual introspection and isolation, has this affected your work and your relationship with nature?
Actually no, I just had more time to create new works. In this period I also dedicated myself to oil painting, a medium that I had abandoned over time.
In a society increasingly regulated by the frenzy and speed of contemporaneity, the choice to use embroidery for the creation of your works is against the trend. In recent times, you told me how your artistic research and above all the decision to use textile techniques, was influenced by your family, how did the desire to deepen embroidery come about?
I decided to use embroidery because from an early age I watched my grandmother embroider, thanks to her talent and her fundamental teachings I have translated this practice over time by inserting it into my art. The use of embroidery that I define as “contemporary embroidery” is not guided by precise and thoughtful beautiful stitches but the work develops through the action of sewing. It is the gesture that guides the hand making each point different from the other, this transforms the work into a succession of stitches that are translated onto the fabric.
Once textile practices were used for the creation of objects of common use, nowadays they can also be used in the artistic field to talk about the problems of contemporaneity, as was highlighted in the collective exhibition #PENELOPE, which ended in Perugia, at which you participated. As an artist, do you think art can make us reflect on the events of our time?
Yes, art must make us think. The artist’s task should be to awaken consciences. With my art I hope to raise awareness and make the human being reflect, shifting his vision from anthropocentric to ecocentric. By focusing our gaze on a Cosmic Union of the human being in full harmony with Mother Earth.
The Anthill series showcases the itineraries made by ants in the ground, why is your attention focused on these little living beings?
The Anthill series was born in a totally random way, I was in a wood, when I found myself analyzing a tree bark, I noticed that it had furrows, signs, writings, which reminded me of an ancient writing such as the hieroglyphs.This bark was carved by carpenter ants. Ants live in colonies, just like humans and communicate with each other using pheromones, so they are social animals. They speak to each other through a language that is incomprehensible to us, create codes in the ground and create writing that is invisible to the human eye. Unlike humans, ants are animals that are able to communicate perfectly and are able to run their society without conflicts. They are a group of hyper-connected individuals who act as one body. This is precisely what struck me about their movement and their social structure.
The colors used in your works are neutral and calm, I would say almost essential, you never give in to strong contrasts or visual “spectacularizations” that induce the viewer to a stunning effect at first sight, what does this choice depend on?
In my opinion, certain visual spectacularizations are not important, by now I find them outdated, I would say almost didactic, the work must make the observer reflect and does not necessarily have to be visual violence. Over time, I realized how the viewer’s eye has almost become accustomed or even better I would say tired of always seeing the usual “visual masturbations”. It is not the visual impact that determines the value of a work, but the quality of the work and above all its most intimate meaning. The use of essential colors in my works allows the observer’s eye to focus on the form and meaning of the work itself.