THE ARTIST IS THE ONE WHO CREATES A BOND WITH PAINTING, DRAWINGS, PHOTOS, SKETCHES AND STORIES. THE SAME STORIES THAT ANTONIO MARRAS TELLS THROUGHT THE EXHIBITION “NULLA DIES SINE LINEA", A REFERENCE TO THE PAINTER APELLES THAT "DIDN’T LET A DAY PASS WITHOUT OUTLINE SOME LINES WITH HIS BRUSH”. THE DESIGNER LEAD THE AUDIENCE IN A VISUAL ATELIER EXPERIENCE COLORED IN BLACK, RED, EXCITEMENT, CHALLENGE, SHADOWS AND LIGHT, PATCHES AND FABRICS.
HERE MARRAS SHARES WITH REDMILK HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT ART AND HIS OWN EXHIBITION, HIS INTERESTS AND INSPIRATIONS AND ABOUT MAGIC, THE THEME OF THE NOVEMBER ISSUE.
I’ve always been fascinated by smudging, smearing, making impure, putting in contact surfaces, objects and immaculate and far apart sources, looking for the different effects and being surprised by them. “Nulla dies sine linea”, not a day goes by without picking up a paintbrush or a pencil and draw a line. So said a teacher seeing my notebooks, always full of scribbles. That need has remained, indeed the urgency of translating a sign the things around and within me has become even more pressing. Instinctively I try to capture and secure strokes, images on paper, rags, cloths, on any material I’ve at hand. That’s why I always carry with me notebooks, diaries, journals: my trusted companions. Without them I would feel lost, while with them I never feel alone.
Only now I understand the meaning of that Latin phrase that as the distracted student I was seemed a rebuke. NULLA DIES SINE LINEA is a phrase that Plinio the Elder (V century B.C.) referred to Apelle, an antique famous painter.
I grew up with the fear of the written page. Instead the figures came to meet me straight from the pages of textbooks or anthologies. Images gave me breath.
The exhibition is a reflection point. A time when I stopped, outstanding thing for me, and I did an inventory of my artistic life.
I opened with Francesca Alfano Miglietti (the curator of the exhibition) drawers, boxes, doors and cabinets in my office and my home.
I revisited installations made over the years in collaboration with other artists. I resumed the work done together with Maria Lai, a great Sardinian artist. Meeting her marked my approach to art and beyond. For me it meant a real turning point.
For the exhibition, I summarized the work of 30 years and framed a selection of artworks. The result? More than 500 works including iconographic collages, watercolors, drawings, sketches etc. Apart from the installations, all for that it’s on display for first time!
How did it feel going through the Triennale’s spaces that hosts the exhibition for the first time?
Panic and blue terror! I knew well the spaces, because my SS 2012 fashion show, inspired by the SERVE of Jean Genet, was set in that very same space, and also because I’ve seen many exhibitions there. The last and majestic exhibition was “Arts and food” curated by Germano Celant during the Expo.
But seeing those 1400 square meters completely empty with that big curve very difficult to set up … I must say I spend many sleepless nights in despair! I walked and retraced those meters without finding solutions for days. With Francesca Alfano Miglietti, Daniela Zedda (the photographer who has filed all my works), Paolo Bazzani (graphic and artistic director of all my work), Tonino Serra (born as a flower designer that become an established creative curator and indispensable assistant) my son Efisio (photographer) and, last but not least Patrizia, we walked, thought, proposed, imagined filling this difficult space. Like all the most difficult things it then gave us the greatest satisfaction.
How much does affects your view of women in the realization of the “Ballo tondo“ installation?
The woman is a Madonna, a mythical figure to worship.
Sardinian women as described by Dessi in the ’60s: “So faithful, so constant, so brave, so resistant to loneliness Women were made to be wives of men who weren’t afraid of the sea and space, wives of great navigators. I imagine them sitting at their chassis, but still at the center of continents and oceans, the starting and landing point. Poor disappointed wives of heroes!”
However it seems disrespectful to reduce women to a “type”, in a stereotype to be taken as a model. The female reality is actually varied, layered, and multiple in a dress, in its signs, in its forms and, above all, in what it recount, must recognize itself and discover the history of its own identity.
When I design, I dream of a free woman who can express and realize her dreams and desires. In this way many of my collections were born. I would like to highlight the personality and physicality of every woman and I see the dress almost like a place to live and make your own.
I think a lot about the women reasons, for so long relegated, canceled psychologically or morally, disappointed, discriminated, perceived as weak and different and yet so strong and equal. I often wonder what it means to be a woman. Much has been written about them and the female characters populating literature. Sorceresses and seductive, like Elena; disappointed and in search of themselves, as Nora; strong mothers, combative, quiet and sometimes cruel, like Medea. I can recognize them in the nowadays woman, the new social protagonist, with her subversive charge that makes her a real dynamic force, the real engine of history.
Words are stones or images are stones?
For me clothes are the words of a great figurative vocabulary: they’re chosen, approached, combined in an unusual and original way; they become signs that communicate, they tell and narrate.
I love the free and personal use of the words of the poetic language, carefully selected, combined, organized to create analogies games and cause an explosion of meanings. “The stars are mother of pearl buttons and velvet evening dresses” (D. Campana). And I also love the violation of grammatical and syntactical rules, the language gap, the deviation from the norm of the poetic language.
Pictures? A picture is worth a thousand words!
Tell us something more about your interests:
favorite artwork: “Cell (Clothes)” by Louise Bourgeois
favorite book: “Spoon River Anthology”
favorite record cover: “Rimmel” by De Gregori
favorite movie: “Barry Lyndon” by Stanley Kubrick
What’s the image (a painting, a photo, a movie frame, etc…) that had the biggest impact on yourself and your work?
I remember my first encounter with art. It dates back to ancient times, I was in school. A cut of Lucio Fontana caught my attention of distracted student during the usual visit to a museum. That white canvas torn and ripped caught me. That cut opened the canvas and took me beyond. It seemed that it was opening the light to the dark or the dark to the light and that the cut was unleashing a wound.
If you could have an imaginary conversation with three artists, icons or celebrities, dead or alive, who would you wish to talk to and about what?
I would like to talk to Laura Betti, to listen to so many curses and so many stories about Pierpaolo Pasolini. Then with Bette Davis. In “All About Eve”, in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane”, in “Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte” she was interpreter, woman, an unrivaled character in the stars scene! And yet I’d like to spend some time with Loredana Berte, my favorite singer.
This month RedMilk focus is on the analysis and the various interpretations of “magic”. What does it mean to you?
Magic!!! You ask me about magic?! Me, who’s the Janas of Sardinia son?
“If at night, while your sleeping, you feel called three times, do not be alarmed – the Janas have chosen you.
They take you to see the treasures that they preserve, and if you’ll be honest and won’t attempt to steal, you’ll always be rewarded, otherwise everything you touch will turn to ash and coal.
(…) Someone calls them fairies, someone witches, but they’re both, it depends only on us, whether we understand who they are or if we hunt them as witches.”
Magic, art and fashion; Do you believe there’s a bond between those worlds?
Everything is combined with everything.
A comma, a period, a break, a wire, are all charged with meaning and send messages. A thin correspondences and cross-references game are enhanced and emphasized in the clothes, in the works, in all things that are created.
There’s a close comparison between the art world and the fashion world and magic.
Those are realities that moves more on convergent tracks than parallel, separated by a thin line.
I think that only the relationships between different arts can lead to new roads.
Incursions are part of me and always leave a mark in my work: grafts, overlaps, joints, mixtures, mergers.
There is no separation between the arts.
Your personal motto is:
“If Mohammed will not go to the mountain, the mountain come to Mohammed.”
“Nulla Dies Sine Linea” exhibition photos by Chiara Antille
This interview has been edited and condensed.