Banca Sistema interviews Debora Fella

21st October 2013

Although you are very young, your artistic career has been intense and complex. Can you tell us about your background as an artist?

My artistic career began at the Umberto Boccioni Arts high school of Milan. I can consider myself lucky, because even as I child I had a notable talent for art and all things creative, and this made it easier to see which path I would follow in life. Of course, an artist needs more than manual ability, he or she also needs discipline, hard work, study, sacrifice and a healthy dose of confidence, because an artistic career is a rocky road, and is almost never downhill. What I think is the most difficult but also the best thing about this job is the fact that I am always questioning myself personally, my own feelings, my image, my inner world, because inevitably every painting talks about me. The importance, value and meaning of my research matured over the years, and so after high school I enrolled at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, which turned from a mirage into a wonderful reality: a place teeming with ideas, projects and people to meet. Once again I was lucky, in meeting teachers who became important points of reference for me, as I developed my work. I am now in the second year of a two-year Painting specialism, and although I've been there for four years, the enthusiasm I first had on arriving at Brera hasn't waned, and is perhaps even stronger than it was before.

You have a number of exhibitions to your name. Have you won any awards?

I am quite proud to say that I have taken part in a number of exhibitions. Since I entered the Academy I have had a lot of opportunities. In chronological order, the first was the jury recommendation at the Brera Painting Competition. The theme of the contest was "Milan, City of Water", and it was organised by the Milan-Brera Lions Club and sponsored by the provincial and municipal councils of Milan. Then came the National Maimeri Award (organised by the Maimeri Foundation of Milan) for a piece with the theme "Colour in the era of digital vision", of which I was among the twelve ex-aequo winners. That was followed by First Prize in the Raffaele de Grada award held in the Great Hall of the Cattaneo Institute in Milan, and recently the First Prize in the Painting category of the Paolina Brugnatelli Foundation award.

What, in your view, is the most interesting and attractive feature of your work?

My work is a constant dialogue between the external and the internal. The painted image is visible but at the same time cannot be completely defined, and I think that the heart of this approach lies in the balance between the figure and its dissolution. It is a study of colour (or non-colour) based on a colour scheme of whites, blacks and greys, in the relationship between substance and space, a work based on veiled effects that create lights and shadows that can form an image from the inside of the painting and my inner world. The relationship between substance and space, shadow and light, is constantly renewed in an infinite search – all you need is one stroke to give a new meaning to the piece.

Is it hard to be an artist nowadays?

It certainly isn't easy. Many galleries are closing, and given the current political and economic climate, the artistic world isn't getting the best support. People are obviously less stimulated and interested in art, but that doesn't discourage me. I think that history goes in cycles, and I am sure that people will be re-inspired by art, without there necessarily having to be a focus on effect and artifice, as with much of the contemporary art world. Things that are authentic and have value will last, I am sure of that.

Plans for the future?

One of my greatest ambitions would be to teach painting or anatomy at the Brera Academy, while continuing with my own work. I know it won't be easy but I hope, after a suitable apprenticeship, to be able to do it. I always tell myself "There are no alternatives!".