In the studio: Sara Rossi

The Berlin-based, Italian artist Sara Rossi's work operates as the residue of thoughts-and-memories, much like a meditation that has been transferred through the hand onto canvas. After opening as a seed as a vision in our Brunnenstrasse 22 space, we caught up with Sara as she prepares for her next solo show in Milan that opens mid-April. We asked her about the importance of books in her work, differences of painting on wood vs. canvas, and the colour gold.


SSM: What was the first thing you did this morning?

SR: This morning was a lazy one: Coffee and Instagram scrolling.



SSM: What place or space is most important to you?

SR: I don't have any favourite 'real' place or space. The most important space for me is a 'mental space', like a state of mind, that I preserve and protect in order to be able to paint and do art.



SSM: Outside or inside?

SR: Outside with an inner view.


Sara Rossi
Untitled, 2022
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SSM: Was there a particular poem or text that inspired the works in your exhibition as a seed as a vision?

SR: My inspiration always comes from books. I also started being interested in painting after reading the essay 'Eye and mind' by Maurice Merleau-Ponty!
The paintings for as a seed as a vision are from different years. One of them took 2 years to be finished – in the meantime I had time to read more than one text, probably some texts also helped me to finish it.

The most influential texts for my practice in the past few years were:
'The melancholia of class – a manifesto of the working class' by Cynthia Cruz, and some texts by Lisa Robertson – in particular 'The Baudelaire Fractal' and her text about 'Atget's Interiors'. From there: I took the sentence written on the cover of my notebook: “Yet when emotion is made visible as form, transformation becomes possible at the form's borders”. I think it is a very close definition to what I am trying to do through my paintings.



SSM: The paintings in this exhibition explore the colour gold in different ways. How did this develop in your practice?

SR: It started together with my interest in the different possible ways of representing space and how they are able to mirror a system of thinking. I was a student at Städelschule and I was reading the texts by Pavel Florenskij on the reverse prospective and the use of gold in the Russian icons – together with the book on 'Technic and Magic' of Federico Campagna on the reconstruction of reality.

I started playing with schematic prospective representations in a series of works on wood, they looked like basic rooms with little distortions and the use of gold happens to be a spontaneous way of signalising another dimension. Gold nullifies and amplifies space at the same time, a golden surface can be foreground or background simultaneously. It positions itself behind the pictorial space and the rules of perspectives and it introduces a transcendental dimension.



SSM: Do you prefer to work on canvas or wood?

SR: They are two different worlds that imply two different ways of working and thinking. Colours and materials react very different on each surface. I can master wood better, it is very similar to paper, more intuitive. Working on canvas always means trouble and more time. I start and I don't know when I'll be finished. Wood is more fun, maybe it also gives me more freedom, but I need both.



SSM: Visiting many churches in your native Italy growing up, do you feel the shapes of their architecture, even religious motifs may have found their way into your work?

SR: Maybe indirectly. I have started to appreciate it and visit more churches in Italy after moving to Germany.
But the very first 'aesthetic experience' I can remember was actually in a church. It was on a class trip when I was 13 /14 years old, in Ravenna, the mosaics on the ceiling in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. It was the first time I thought that what our teachers were showing us was actually beautiful and not boring. Maybe the blue, the gold and stars and the vibrant atmosphere is something I still try to recreate in my paintings.



SSM: Can you tell us what you're currently working on?

SR: I am preparing a solo show in Milan that opens during MIART in the middle of April. It will be similar to as a seed as a vision, a dialogue of new works with some of a couple of years ago. I like ideas that are developing through time. In the newest works I am further exploring the use of aluminium and collage.



SSM: If you could collect work from any artist – dead or alive – who would it be?

SR: Richard Tuttle



SSM: Is there a work from art history that best describes your personality?

SR: Any still life by Giorgio Morandi.