12 July 2015

Lavatrici Bollatesi - The Artists' Collective in Milan

Tell a bit about your collective, who are Lavatrici Bollatesi?

Lavatrici Bollatesi is a tank of ideas, a physical and ideal place where a project can come to life, where creation means to get your hands dirty. No, that is not a laundry and here we do not repair washing machines (lavatrice in Italian means washing machine), it is a collective of young artiststhat have never stopped to believe into the power of art. It is the tentative of make people understand an interior world, it is an alternative to the so-called contemporary art locations, here is where you see art, and where you breathe it. A nice place we can say!

Lavatrici Bollatesi was born from the minds of some of the artists that are part of the group today, during 2015 the group got consolidated, and the members today are: the sculptor Milos Stajanovich, the painters Elisa Martino and Riccardo Sala, but also the eclectic artist Matteo Compagnoni (sculptor, painter and writer..), and Seba of Libri Finti Clandestini, who creates books bound with recycled paper and realised through the letter print technique. The thing we all have in common is the awareness that behind an artwork, of any kind, there is a creative process which leads to the idea of archetype of an object, and that the personal craftsmanship is the element which distinguishes what is art for us, from what is simply a concept.

What is your art about?

What I do is to re-interpret images, either photographs or mental ideas, through the use of colour. I favour portraits and female anatomies. The watercolour is the mean which allows me to give full shape and expressivity to the portraits I do. I like the freedom the colour has moving on surfaces in full autonomy. I always try to direct the brush strokes with a realistic sense, but sometimes I just leave the colour to get alive, getting shape without my action.

What’s the object that links your art to this collective?

The object I chose is linked to a memory, and that is the moment I physically joined to group of Lavatrici, opening the workshop door. The key  stated my entrance in the collective, not just as part of an audience, but as an artist.

What is your idea of contemporary art?

Here some extracts from the Manifesto of Lavatrici Bollatesi

I would like to reconnect to the concept of Baroque, and then to the Romantic concept of astonishment. In front of an artwork the man has to be astonished, all the senses need to be involved. The Baroque artworks aimed to capture the public in a sensorial vortex of colours and visual virtuosity. Art was the privileged relationship between viewer and artwork, the latter had to move emotions and astonish the audience in a direct and primordial way. If we consider the sixth sense as the one of disgust, then also the art of  XXI century (not all of it) answers to these seventeenth-century criteria. For our XIX century ancestors instead, the art had toappraise the natural forces, seen as manifestation of the divine. When we see a sunset, a starry sky, a tempest, a stormy ocean, we live what Romantics used to call the experience of the shipwreck between the viewer and the sublime. The man, at the same time charmed and frightened by the beauty of something that slips away from his own control and hypnotises him into a vortex of astonishment and wonder, gets stunned and therefore feels pleasure. This is what the art should do for people from the Romantic age. We definitely distanced ourselves from the Baroque idea of astonishment but also from the Romantic one. What is our idea of wonder then? Is astonishment still the aim of art today?

Probably the historical Avantguardes are the ones to blame for the change of the art essence during the XX century. This is a challenging statement, but in part that is true. What happens at the beginning of the 1900 that totally changes the aims of artists? The arrival of photography first, during the first decades of 1800, and of cinema after, gave a strong move the the world of art, which had to compete with new means and re-invent itself, to copy the real was not enough anymore, there was photography that was making it better!

Avantguardes were born, I will limit myself to speak about some significant events to support my idea. Marcel Duchamp takes a pissoir, put it upside down, gives the title “Fountain”  and in an iconoclast way he states that is an artwork. From that point on everything became a possible artwork. Probably Duchamp wanted to criticise this condition, the one where it is enough to place any object, even the stingier one (such as the passer)in a location like a museum to define it art. The one he did was a provocation. Today the “Fountain” by Duchamp is one of the greatest artwork of the XX century.

Piero Manzoni shits into a can, gives it the title “Artist’s Shit” and makes a series. He is shouting to the entire world that the universe of art is ready to welcome everything, also the shit, as long as it is in a numerated edition and realised by a renown artist. Today the cans are in the most prestigious collections of the world, and they have a value of about €70.000 each. Great Piero, we got the message!

We are in an era where any object, idea, performance, artist’s shit, can get into (and not so worthy anymore) niche of what we call CONTEMPORARY ART. What are then the criteria to define art today? Let’s leave this question open, because there is not an exhaustive answer, today there are not criteria, today we do not speak anymore of astonishment. We do not understand contemporary art!