Ilaria Berenice is an Italian artist who uses color and loose forms to express herself on paper. Her works keep their wet, fluid feel even though the paint has long been dry. Every stroke looks intentional and spontaneous all at once, and the bright colors she uses brings every shape and form to life. She studied anthropology and ethnology at the University of Siena, but didn’t begin painting until traveling through Brazil, Italy and Spain in the early 2000s.
Now, her work has has been exhibited all over Italy and featured in multiple publications including the Spanish critic Eva Minguet Camara’s 2008 book “Ilustraciòn de vanguardia” (“Art illustration”). This past summer Ilaria had a solo exhibition at one of the biggest castles in Europe, at Castel Brando, between Venice and the Dolomites.
When you sit down to complete a portrait, do you already have an idea of how realistic you want to convey the sitter?
When I started to make committed portraits with oil, the goal was to make them as realistic as possible. But when I make them with mixed media, I just catch the glimpse of the soul and personality of the person, or just an aspect, while playing and having fun with the sign between shadows and lights, and strangely enough they look more familiar with the sitter than the realistic ones, to me.
You write that your collection of “Visionary” work is inspired by momentary situations and ideas. Can you tell us the story behind your mixed media work “Venice”?
I love the work “Venice,” overall because is the latest one. Well I just played with stains of blue and green, made of pigments, glue and water, then I let the work on the easel appear whatever. The day after I saw Venice on it, I just allowed what I saw to come out.
What do you use for reference in your anatomy drawings?
I did them last winter at the Brera academy here in Milan where there is a real skeleton. While for the muscles I used pictures, and for the people I used real people, all in the class of the artist and professor Maria Tcholakova.
Which masters of art are you most inspired by? Are there any modern artists you look up to as well?
As way of proceeding I’m quite independent as I began as self taught, but I read some books along the years that inspired me a lot or that I identified with, especially “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards, “Concerning the spiritual in art” by Wassily Kandinsky and “Stroke by Stroke” by Henri Michaux. Then last winter I attended the Brera academy in Milan – I knew professors that are great artists also, and I got very inspired by them over all by Barbara Giorgis and Maria Tcholakova, so much that this year I will attend again.
When did you first think of the idea for your Stains series? What do the shapes you paint look like to you?
For the stains I got inspired and started by artist and professor Barbara Giorgis, then of course I developed them in my own way. I just play with colours and shapes and then I let the intuition work for me.
What’s your earliest memory of creating/painting/drawing?
My great-great father was a painter. He never taught me anything, but when as a child I went to visit, I always found a blank canvas and colors ready to be used in his studio. So without saying anything while the adults chat, I went to his studio and did a painting, it was like a mutually concealed understanding. He appreciated a lot even though he was not a man of many words. Later I stopped painting for many many years, until I started again when I lived in Brazil about at the age of 28, doing lots of collages with founded objects, and later adding on paint.