*Featured photo: Why fall in love when you can fall asleep, 2021, cm50x70. Copyright Armadilly
Armadilly is Camilla Cesarini, born in 1995; she graduated in 2018 in Comics and Illustration from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. I came across her work at the Fidia Gallery exhibition space. Her pieces were displayed alongside Giosetta Fioroni’s works during Roma Arte in Nuvola. I wanted to meet her to understand the hidden meaning behind the bright pink of her tapestries. With a highly personal style inspired by a fusion of social media, fashion, Pop Art and the 1960s, Armadilly gives us a fresco of a generation amid disillusionment, dreams and everyday life.
Let’s start at the beginning: I guess ARMADILLY is your nickname; why did you choose it and, above all, who is ARMADILLY – the artist?
Armadilly is the alias of Camilla Cesarini, an eternal teenager who loves pink and glitter, who never wants to be bored but to party all the time surrounded by exciting and crazy people. She is my alter ego. She mirrors my life and makes it sparkle but, as they say, “All that glitters is not gold”. The nickname came about by chance, resulting from one of my best friends constantly mispronouncing my name. My psychologist said that the choice of the armadillo was curious because it perfectly represented me, given its hard and resistant armour that conceals within it a soft animal
We were the right people…At the wrong time. 2021, cm70x50. Copyright Armadilly
How did you come to use the textile medium? And why did you choose this technique for this series of works?
During the first quarantine in 2020, there were a lot of videos on TikTok and Instagram about this technique, called Punch Needle, which is quite easy to learn but requires a lot of time and care. I chose it by accident, and for fun, I wanted to try out something new; everything related to sewing and embroidery has always been fascinating to me. I learned to sew as a child thanks to my grandmother, and, thinking back, I can say that it’s partly thanks to her that I felt this technique was so suitable for me. The perfect combination of tradition and the contemporary world.
You can’t sit with us, 2021, cm50x70. Copyright Armadilly
Your works have been often considered as the portrait of a generation. But how would you describe this generation? How much of its lights and shadows can be found in your work?
My generation is disillusioned; we are born into a crisis-torn society with no great future prospects. Relationships are difficult. That is why memes are the perfect outcome of these times, hiding sadness with great sarcasm. In my works, this is precisely what I want to show, bluntly and using a hyper-coloured but simple graphics style. Today’s pop art.
Depressed but well dressed, 2021, cm70x50. Copyright Armadilly
In your work and art practice, you deal with topics like the lack of self-confidence and the search for approval of a group through social media. The uncertainty of the future denies the possibility of long-term planning and generates a fragility that opens the door to violence – in its various meanings, especially the less obvious ones – and to fear. However, amidst a bit of cynicism and a lot of disillusions, I find in your work a wave of healthy irony and, above all, a pink that is so cheeky, assertive and non-conformist that it makes me reconsider this whole assumption. So, where does this super pink come from?
We grew up being told that pink was a colour for girls as if it was something insulting. For years, I only wanted to dress as a boy, hating everything that had to do with the female universe, such as make-up, which I didn’t use for a long time because of an interview I saw on television during puberty. However, at a certain point, I became aware that it was a crime not to use such a beautiful colour and, above all, that these thoughts were driven by our extremely male-dominated society. I was told that I was using too much pink, and my reaction was to use even more. Although I was sure it would nauseate me at some point; instead, it gives me more and more confidence and peace of mind.
…Do I look like I care, 2021, cm70x50. Copyright Armadilly
What is the meaning of making art for you? And does art have, in your opinion, a cathartic power?
Making art for me is not a choice; it is pure oxygen. I had a major artistic crisis that lasted two years where I could barely pick up a pencil; during that time, I felt more at peace with myself than ever before. I had a job I could come home to and relax. Sure, I was quiet, but my brain was literally getting atrophied. I never believed I was exceptionally talented or, let alone brilliant, and I still don’t, but I can’t think of a life where the possibility of making art doesn’t exist. Living in turmoil is what keeps me alive; it hurts so much, and yet it is the most beautiful thing. This is not a job but a real love story. It has a very cathartic power.
Is he hot or does your life need some drama, 2021, cm70x50. Copyright Armadilly
What is the audience feedback on your works? And which audience engages most with them?
At the beginning of November 2021, my works were presented in a solo exhibition at Galleria Fidia in Rome and a double solo exhibition together with Giosetta Fioroni at “Roma Arte in Nuvola” at the Fuksas Cloud, both curated by Gemma Gulisano. It was my first appearance in the contemporary art world, and the public response was more than positive. I can proudly say that many people stopped and asked for information or took photographs in front of my tapestries. Of course, the incredible power of pop art is that people generally like it, but I didn’t expect my paintings to appeal to such a diverse audience. Of course, the younger ones are those who can fully appreciate my works, but I also talk about broken hearts and who hasn’t had that at least once?
I just wanna dance forever, 2021, cm70x50. Copyright Armadilly
A bit of know-how: from the smartphone to the finished work, how does the idea take form and develop?
I spend an embarrassing amount of time on social media. My favourite profiles are the ones with “frame”, memorabilia and characters from the 2000s, the MTV generation and trash TV. My subjects happen by themselves, I do a lot of research, but I mostly talk about my life and what is going on. Each tapestry represents a scene that I have experienced in some way. I note down some sentences and start from those. Then, I make the drawing, move on to the canvas, and that’s it.
Work in progress – Copyright Armadilly
Work in progress – Copyright Armadilly
When you look beyond the near horizon, what do you see?
Beautiful clothes, glittering parties and more and more turmoil!