Artist and designer Benedetta Borrometi tells Jeanne-Marie Cilento what drives her creative work and her new exhibition. Borrometi has a law degree but moved to London to study fine art at Central Saint Martins College of Art. Her career has encompassed working as a designer at Italian television network Mediaset to collaborating with textile designer Tsumori Chisato in Tokyo and illustrating the French magazine Plume Voyage. Today, she lives between Italy and Japan and is married to Japanese photographer Horikiri Kentaro.
1. What are you currently working on?
At the moment I am very focused on my next collaboration with a ceramic brand from Puglia called Ceramiche Enza Fasano. For a long time I dreamt of doing a project like this and giving people the chance to buy my work easily. We are making a collection of different designs and prints for various pieces of pottery. I am also working on another project in Azerbaijan for a music and art fair there.
2. What inpires you for your creative work now?
Travelling gives me a great deal of inspiration - I have so many sketches I did when I was in Japan. I also take inspiration from my dreams: I see my painting in front of me like a vision - so I run and draw it before I forget the image!
3. How did you choose painting as your creative metier?
Painting is a way for me to talk without words. It is something that I cannot control. I can't live without painting now. My goal is to leave a part of me in my work and for the paintings to create a special atmosphere and give positive vibrations and feelings. I am always very happy when I visit a collector's house and see my paintings with their new owner. I feel like a part of me is still there in the canvas.
4. Can you describe the experience, person or training that has had the greatest impact on your painting and design career?
I truly believe in destiny. In my life I've met so many people that helped me and that gave me something to keep close to my heart. I admire many artists and designers and I've been lucky to be a friends with some of them. Collaborating with Tsumori Chisato, I learnt to draw a dream and translate it into fashion.
Aya Takano was one of my favourite artists in Japan and I had the chance to meet her and now we are very close friends. I think she is a very special person, someone that seems to come from another planet, an amazing artist full of creativity and power. From her I learnt that nothing is really impossible and that dreams can come true - those are the titles of two of my early works. I really believe that life can offer opportunity if you are ready to catch it. I think it is true that creativity is a kind of gift. If you have a gift you can improve it and that is the magical meaning of being an artist for me.
5. What do you find the most challenging aspect of your work technically?
My technique is a mix of using different materials such as impasto, collages of various fabrics and different glitters. But I can say that a very strong aspect of my art is colour balance. I work on colours to make them dance together. Embroidery drives me crazy but I find it so special. I like researching materials from all over the world. I also use vintage kimonos and glitter that I find in Vietnam and the UK or in a tiny shop in Shibuya in Japan.
6. Where do you like to draw or create your initial paintings?
I often see my paintings as a dream, like a vision so I keep a sketch book with me to write the ideas down quickly. Then I start to work on the idea when I wake up in the morning at home.
7. Do you have a set schedule of working creatively everyday or is the process more fluid?
I really love to work without any pressure. For me a fluid process is the best. But it is also true that I must prepare a schedule when I am close to a solo show or I have to give work to a client in a short time. Now work for me is getting more and more planned as I have many things to do and I must be strict with myself.
8. What part of painting gives you the most happiness and do you find your creative process is more rational or instinctive?
I love to finish a drawing and start to find the right colours. I like to study the light and feel the paint alive day after day. Sometimes I cannot go to sleep and leave the canvas alone and not finished!
It's feels natural for me to recreate my ideas in paint. I can say that my process is really instinctive at the beginning and then it gets more rational when I check the materials and make time to finish the work properly.
9. Is there a town or place in the world you consider inspiring?
I've travelled so much in my life but I can say that there is no other place like Japan for me. The inspiration is Tokyo one hundred percent. A magical place, where you can see the newest technology next to tradition. The contrasts and sense of elegance, the smells and sounds - everything there makes me drunk with ideas and dreams.
I did many of my drawings there. I'm still inspired by my house in Tokyo, my everyday life in the city and the colours - I still feel all of it in my heart everyday even though I am in Italy.
10. In our digital age what does painting give us as an art form and how do you define contemporary art?
I love technology and I think that we are part of a new world full of input from the Internet and all the applications of our phones, social networks and blogs - it is like being in a bubble. But paint is still something that comes from a brush, something that smells and is alive in a way.
I think we can still feel the personality of Picasso just looking at his painting. I can feel the instinctive brushwork of Basquiat and the sadness of Frida Khalo in a way that no digital form can give us. I don't want to define contemporary art, I just want to see a painting and go back home and still feel it inside like a colpo di fulmine.