Serena Poletti’s artistic research deals with traditional techniques and materials such as engraving, calligraphy, and drawing alongside sculpture and installation. Hers is a meditative interpretation which takes inspiration from science and physics with her personal interest in Taoist philosophy, to a vision of the universe linked to a personal idea of the void and silence. Awarded of residencies and training programs in Greece and Valencia, based in Venice, the artist draws from her imagination of natural and archetypal forces according to the style of abstraction and minimalist language. Serena Poletti is represented by FineArtX (www.fineartx.com).
Sara Buoso: Given your background in pharmaceutical studies, visible in Organics, watercolors and inks series on cotton paper, which take up the tradition of prints of motifs of flora and fauna; how do you consider the relationship between nature and artist?
Serena Poletti: The fact that I come from scientific studies surely affects my practice, but I don’t want to exclude that science also has an artistic and fascinating side. I feel connected to nature and I believe that it is always necessary to have contact with it, as if it gives us a sort of power and energy. Taoist philosophy says that we are part of everything, therefore of the universe.
Given the context in which you live, Venice, and your residency experiences in Greece, your approach is profound, intimate, silent with very long roots that sink into tradition. Your works, then, like the calligraphic series, are inspired by philosophies from the Levant. How does your meditation happen?
It is an instinctive but necessary choice. By finding my intimacy, silence and space help me to be more present to myself and therefore to the work I am producing. It is a practice of concentration and meditation. The isolation is necessary to be more present in the moment. I have always been fascinated by oriental arts and the philosophies behind every ritual practice. Taoism speaks of the theme of the whole, and therefore also of the universe of which we are a part of. There are archetypes that lead us towards a certain movement of thought. Actually, respect to Taoism, I was surprised to see how some concepts where already felt by me, then, I wanted to develop these themes and concepts with simple practices such as calligraphy, not so much to learn ideograms, but to learn a certain method, a certain meditation, a certain movement that I apply in my paintings. I translate this meditation into my daily practice; the need to prepare my study in order to be present in that specific moment, environment and position. I simply start with sign studies to enter the moment, then I study the calligraphic sign in ink, and with ink and brush I create my final work. So, I create a space. Finally, in my works, I would like to induce a sort of reflection, a revelation on certain points of one’s life.
I was impressed by your stoic, not to mention ascetic, attitude in the narration of two residences in Greece. If Marina Abramović is recognized for her balance and her communicative and expressive power, I perceive a more inner voice in your works. How have these experiences influenced your practice?
You need a mental preparation, sometimes even physical, elements that are related to each other in terms of experience. During the pandemic, I was stranded on the island of Crete in Greece; in the other, I was invited to participate in a workshop organized by the Marina Abramović institute whereby I experienced a certain type of path, which was also very austere. Then, I continued to practice these exercises independently. We need to create a void, both inside and outside of us, to be more aware of being consciously and unconsciously. For an artist, this helps to have an intuition and therefore be more aware of what he wants to put into practice. The figure of Marina Abramović is important to me, for the methodology that she has developed in her artistic career, certainly very linked to some Taoist and Buddhist practices that she proposes in a more contemporary key. So, I wanted to experience this to be able to be more in touch with myself, not so much to produce a performance, but rather to develop a mystical sense. You need mental and sometimes even physical preparation, and in this sense the two elements are related to each other in terms of experience.
We can also read a citation from Mondrian’s abstract art in your works and you are planning your new works between Venice, Athens and Valencia. Would you like to introduce them?
It was a coincidence to meet Mondrian. I’ve been wanting to do a labyrinth-themed project for a long time, and I started my artistic research. Instinctively I am attracted to minimalism and to abstractionism, intense styles of meaning. Hence, my latest project on the labyrinth, Metis, a term that in ancient Greek means the ability to use the obstacles we encounter to overcome them. At first, I approached the project with a ceramic material, then I moved towards installations, it has now been proposed in a gallery in Athens. I like the idea of being able to create an installation so that the viewer feels immersed in the theme I want to address. In this sense, I learned from Mondrian’s research and I decided to introduce some segments that fascinated me and re-proposed them on a larger scale, creating my own labyrinth without a pre-established center. I believe that each of us can choose when and how to enter and when to get out of this maze, how long will be the path and the end. I think everyone has their own path. I will also present it in Valencia and then hopefully in Venice. Athens is the perfect place to talk about this theme and I believe that at an installation level, it is important to present Metis here. Then, I will be interested in observing how the shadows of the installation itself can deceive the viewer.
Two words return in the titles of your works: emptiness and silence. It is like this for Forse silenziose, an oxymoron. Tell me more.
Forze Silenziose is a project related to olive trees which I developed during the first pandemic in 2020, because i was stuck on the island of Crete. I found myself surrounded by the immensity of a forest of olive trees, some millennial. This mysterious silence gave a lot of energy in contrast to the silence. The mysticism, strength and the history of these plants made me relate to emptiness and silence. Creating an intimate moment means to reach a mental void and to do this I need silence, stillness, to then, finally, release the strength of a sign.
She is interested in the visual, verbal and textual aspects of the Modern Contemporary Arts. From historical-artistic studies at the Cà Foscari University, Venice, she has specialized in teaching and curatorial practice at the IED, Rome, and Christie’s London. The field of her research activity focuses on the theme of Light from the 1950s to current times, ontologically considering artistic, phenomenological and visual innovation aspects.