I draw and paint all the women inhabiting myself. They are contradictory, they want all sorts of different things. Some of them get to live in the real world, some others will always stay hidden.
Claudia Marchetti is an interpreter as well as an artist. Two complementary professions; the first aims at expressing what others have to say, the second allows her to express her deeper self - to let out her inner chaos and make it beautiful. Her powerful drawings transport the viewer to a dreamlike state, where symbols reign and the separation between body and mind is abolished.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Q. How did you go from being an interpreter to being an artist?
A. I am still a conference interpreter, but I paint and draw every single day. Interpreting means expressing other people's thoughts and ideas. Five years ago, I felt the urge to shift my focus inwards and express my own thoughts too - to turn what I feel into tangible forms.
Also, as an interpreter, I always use clear and meaningful words, while drawing and painting are more ambiguous media. Such ambiguity allows a shy person like me to express deep desires and feelings in a masked, symbolic way, providing a much needed outlet for my subconscious. So basically being an interpreter and being an artist are two complementary things, the first aims at expressing what others have to say and the second allows me to express my deeper self.
Q. Your works often seem to reveal something that is internal to the subject, what would you like to make visible in this way?
A. I would like to make my inner chaos visible. I have deep fears and desires that I may never dare to confess, fulfil or overcome, and drawing them is a way to let them out and make them beautiful. I also feel that the world is full of invisible energies flowing from one person to another, like attraction, love, telepathy. I would like to make all of that tangible in my work.
Q. Could you describe your artistic process?
A. I draw and paint in the same way in which I dream at night. I never have an idea in advance. I just listen to music, leaf through a fashion magazine, look at the people surrounding me while I sit in a restaurant and start drawing. Later, I add the colours. After I complete a painting or a drawing, I feel healed like after a long sleep full of vivid dreams.
Q. Does symbolism play a role in your work?
A. I have realised that all my artworks contain symbols. I draw and paint instinctively and then I analyse my works in search of symbols and their meaning, just like we analyse our dreams in order to interpret them. I often find symbols of strength and aggressiveness, like tigers. Also, there are the threads and the bows, symbols of bonding through love and friendship. Invented animals are symbols of our inner creative child, like the little Aries with its multicoloured horns and the animal mask with the very long horns, almost like antennas reaching for a higher dimension. Then there are symbols of our constant evolution as human beings, like the owl, which represents change, intuitive development and new beginnings. Finally, heels and naked women represent my need to attract, which is ultimately a need to be loved, a need which other women may feel too.
Q. Is there a reason your subjects are mostly female?
A. I draw and paint all the women inhabiting myself. They are contradictory, they want all sorts of different things. Some of them get to live in the real world, some other will always stay hidden. I think that I never paint men because they are a mystery to me. I am fascinated by them but I can never really understand how they feel and think on a deeper level. Therefore, in my artistic game, men are the viewers, and women are the performers.
Q. Your work shows the world from a distinctively feminine perspective, is there a feminist aspect to it?
A. Yes, I strongly believe that there is a feminist aspect to it.
Through my work I defend the right of women to be bold, loud, free; their right to evolve, change and be themselves, indulge in all their desires and find all possible ways to meet their deeper needs.
Q. A lot of your work seems to be highly personal, is there a universal aspect to it as well, or is it rather like a diary of personal thoughts and feelings?
A. I think that personal expression is a gate to a universal understanding of what we all share as human beings. In my work, the universal aspect is surely the coexistence of contradictory impulses, the fragmentation of the self, and, most importantly, the freedom to be whoever we want to be, to change and evolve continuously.
Q. What would you like your work to evoke in the viewer?
A. I would like the viewer to be attracted by the forms and colours, and understand that all desires, fears, memories, dreams and people inhabiting herself or himself are legitimate, worthy and precious.
Q. You have stated that ambiguity is important in your work, could you elaborate on what role this plays in your process?
A. Ambiguity is a sort of right. The right to be hard to define, the right to change deeply or even on a whim. The right to be shy and bold at the same time, to hide oneself and show off, depending on our mood and desires. Also, how can a human being know for sure who they really are and who they will be in the future?
Q. You have recently shifted your focus from working on paper to canvas, how has this move affected your artistic practice?
A. Working on canvas forces me to be slower at times and faster at others. When I paint more slowly, I tend to portray more people and elements in an almost abstract composition of faces and bodies. When I paint faster, I get a chance to use colour to really express my deeper moods, without any rational filter.
Q. What other creatives, books, music or movies inspire you?
A. My sources of inspiration are so numerous: Italian Vogue when Carla Sozzani was its editor in chief; the horror movies that I saw as a child, such as Interview with the Vampire and all of Dario Argento's films; music that makes me nostalgic for eras that I never lived in, but only in my reveries, such as The Smiths, Roxy Music, New Order; and the Rome Opera House, the place that made me realise that I should always spend time in beautiful places and, when that is not possible, I should always draw and paint them in order to feel as if I were inside them.
Q. Have you had any surprising responses to your work? Perhaps interpretations that you did not expect?
A. A friend of mine said that my works are fashion illustrations that meet erotic art - I thought that makes sense, since the need to be attractive and express ourselves through our bodies is central to both of these realms. Another friend of mine said that there is often a monstrous element in my works. At first, I was surprised but then I realised it was true, in subtle ways. This made me realise that my work is also an outlet for my darker side, which in turn can encourage the viewer to face and express their darker side, without shame or guilt. Many friends told me that my works are similar to Fellini's drawings and that really surprised me, because I personally think that his drawings are very different from my works. But I have watched some of his movies during my childhood and adolescence and so I must have absorbed his sense of aesthetics and atmosphere without even realising it.
Q. What would you still like to achieve in your artistic career?
A. I would like to experience the thrill of drawing and painting in front of an audience, either in person or in front of a digital audience, live. It would be the most traditional performance in the world but I think that the viewer and the artist should share the moment of creation. I think that it would generate a flow of creative energy going back and forth and it would create a deep bond.
Q. Could you describe your work in three words?
A. Symbolic, psychological, entertaining