Monday 24 March 2014

Home > Les rubriques > Images > Seeking Harmony

Seeking Harmony

Space and Color in the works of Elisa Vladilo

, Elisa Vladilo et Susanna Crispino

All the versions of this article: [English] [italiano]

The third publication of Las Italias focuses on Elisa Vladilo, the first female artist protagonist of the column, a joyful heart and a nomadic spirit who has made color and the revision of urban spaces her distinctive style.

Belonging to a place can be determined by several factors. There is the Law, which establishes it through the documents; there is Culture, that identifies the communities through their values ​​and their creativity; there is the emotional affinity, which makes a place beloved through the feelings that we sublimate in. However, none of these aspects can express completely the multiplicity of worlds that every individual may bring within: his documents can never tell what about the country he was born in belongs to him; his cultural references can expand well beyond its community of origin, the emotional affinity cannot explain the bond that he can feel with different places. The development of this complexity, that can be processed only by the individual, can find a synthesis in the art. And in the art of Elisa Vladilo it can find a way to the Harmony.

Yellow, Pink, Blue, Green. The universe of Elisa Vladilo is an ocean of bright and joyful colors that create new perspectives in urban and natural spaces.
Born in Venezuela, but grew up in Italy, she is the bearer of a nomadic culture and different souls: she had a Slavic father and a mother from Emilia; she has lived in Italy, in London, in Berlin and has chosen a city at the "frontier" - Trieste - as permanent residence. But the border –she says - is behind the house.
Through the years of education she experimented first the painting and then the scenic design, and thanks to the remarkable discovery of Land Art , she finally finds the world as the space where to build her own "settings" with a seemingly simple and immediate medium: color. Indeed, the colors : primary, selected according to a precise range - pink, orange, yellow, green and blue - in a pure hue and saturation, colors which are used as elements of a basic grammar to modulate a new language in order to express joy and positivity and to connect the individual with his most intimate and spiritual side.

The experiments in this direction has started a long time ago: her beginning in painting are followed by the first graffiti, which-in the ‘80- lead the artist to overcome the limit imposed by the canvas and to overwhelm the color as a simple decoration or superstructure for the form, to transform it into an entity which is independent from the form itself becoming part of the place in which she works, a part of its very structure.

Discovering the Genius Loci. The expansion of color in the public space
The projects of the artist find their foundation in color and space: the chromatic element is in fact the cornerstone of her research that has its essential origin in the site-specific. Every place marked by her projects has physical characteristics determining the expansion of the color: sidewalks, streetlights, loops and curves of roads, they all represent as many milestones in the construction of the shape that the colors will fill, such as river banks for the water. But the special vibrations leading to the following choice of colors are determined exclusively by the "spirit" of the place, by its soul. A genius loci which is constantly sought, in spite of the particular type of selected spaces: those which Auge’  [1] defines as “non-lieu” (non-places) or spaces without a specific identity, transition places where people move through without thinking, that turn into "real places" thanks to the artistic and social action of change. As in one of the first projects of "colorful streets" realized with Front of Art in Nervesa della Battaglia (curated by Katia Baraldi and Laure Keyrouz).

JPEG - 118.4 kb
Prendo il paesaggio e lo porto con me, 250 mq, pittura lavabile/washable paint Sandtex, Nervesa della Battaglia (Treviso) 2011 - ¢ Photo Piero Budinich

During a Sunday, via Carrer, which is a scenic road that connects the town with the vineyards of Nervesa-chosen as symbol of the human labor on the landscape- a road that has become the scene of Prendo il paesaggio e lo porto con me (I take the landscape and I take it with me), that is a collective action to change the place in which the colored bands run along the entire journey through rollers soaked with color "driven" by visitors.

JPEG - 55.5 kb
Prendo il paesaggio e lo porto con me, 250 mq, pittura lavabile/washable paint Sandtex, Nervesa della Battaglia (Treviso) 2011

A collective action, almost a happening, which returns in work such as Nel blu dipinto di blu (Trieste, 2013) realized ​​during an experimental pedestrianization of the road in a weekend, and Melting street (Pula, Croatia, 2013) that, during the celebration day of the city, has involved the locals and anyone who wanted to participate.

JPEG - 68.9 kb
Nel blu dipinto di blu, 600 mq, pittura all’acqua/water paint Sandtex, Largo Sonnino, Trieste 2013

The participation of the public is particularly important for the artist’s poetics which aims to look for the positive values ​​and to promote a joyful dimension of existence, but also to propose a new look on usual places.

JPEG - 49.2 kb
Nel blu dipinto di blu, 600 mq, pittura all’acqua/water paint Sandtex, Largo Sonnino, Trieste 2013

The artistic action becomes participation and encourages viewers to retrieve a childish carefree status but also to physically regain possession of the places to awaken a sense of collective ownership of public space which is instead usually experienced passively.

JPEG - 65.3 kb
Melting street, 600 mq, colori lavabili/washable paint Sandtex, Pola (Croazia) 2013

In Melting Street is cleared also another of the strong points of Elisa Vladilo’s poetics: the desire to bring art "out". Out of art galleries, of museums, of all those spaces perceived as dedicated to art itself, to reach those places where everyone - regardless of age, social and cultural conditions, individual differences - transits. It is a necessity rather than a choice tied, on the one hand, to the narrow sphere of the so-called art system and, on the other, to the desire to share the power, the beauty and the values of art, bringing it in everyday life through some public places often abandoned or with an elusive condition.

JPEG - 76.9 kb
Melting street, 600 mq, colori lavabili/washable paint Sandtex, Pola (Croazia) 2013

Melting Street fully embodies the matter: the project was born on the invitation of the MMC Luka association, in which the color expands from the entry of the exhibition space of the association to conquest the whole street in which it stands, as a perfect metaphor of the interpenetration of art into reality.

The artistic action as social integration
The seizure back of places – or non-places - finds its strong motivation into social integration, that is evident in the project Rimad ’Origine, in which thirty-one women from different countries and residing in Trieste, transcribed on the colored bands traced on the town Central Station floor by Elisa Vladilo a poem written in their native language and the translated version in Italian.

JPEG - 64 kb
Rimad’origine, 110 mq, PVC e pennarelli/markers, Stazione Centrale Ferroviaria, Trieste 2013

The installation finds meaning in a station as it is a place of transit, lived with detachment, but also of departures and returns, that is loaded by experiences of separation and meeting, and that acquires, through color a warm appearance and through the word becomes a meeting point for cultures and different backgrounds.

JPEG - 54.8 kb
Rimad’origine, 110 mq, PVC e pennarelli/markers, Stazione Centrale Ferroviaria, Trieste 2013

In single place multiple places merge, an aspiration towards fellowship mediated by what the artist defines as the "spiritual" part of her poetry: «The pure color opens the emotional sphere in the human perception, which is a direct channel in the intimacy, without superstructures which are often an obstacle to disposal, to an opening to the outside. In this "bare" condition, stripped of weights, we find a more substantial approach with oneselves and with the surrounding world».

JPEG - 48.2 kb
Rimad’origine, 110 mq, PVC e pennarelli/markers, Stazione Centrale Ferroviaria, Trieste 2013

An interiority that, considered in relation to the community, can be understood as awareness of the history of the places and – by reflection – of the communities that inhabit them. Thus was born The Melting Tower (Villach, Austria 2002) , a project that celebrates the one hundred and fifty years of the Villach Alpenverein through an intervention on the medieval tower that characterizes the city. This tower, the only survivor of the many bastions that used to surround the village, has lost in the modern age the architectural pregnancy and the strong visual presence that used to have in the past.

JPEG - 74.8 kb
The melting tower, 160 mq, feltro/felt,Villach (Austria) 2012
© Sillani Djerrahian Mario

The artistic intervention starts from the idea of bringing it back to the fore through colored felt bands - yellow, pink, and orange, colors that are totally absent in the urban environment - and to make it again not just a visual landmark but also a place of welcoming, through the extension of the bands on the surrounding area.
The use of a warm and friendly material well suits to accommodate visitors and to make their experience of the place absolutely unusual.
The final effect is a tower that "melts" in the city, which recaptures space, offering itself to its citizens and, metaphorically, inviting to the sharing, to the removal of barriers.

A brotherhood issue comes back in Stitching the border, an installation on the "border" between Austria, Italy and Slovenia. A border that, as a matter of fact, no longer exists, thanks to the opening of frontiers and the single currency, but that remains to legally define different territories, belonging to each of the three countries, and it fixes a separation between places, languages, cultures, and customs. This separation, however, does not lack nuances, because in every border area, there is an inevitable mix of diversity, a contact that stimulates knowledge and mixing of uses, languages​​, nationalities .

JPEG - 74.1 kb
Stitching the border, 150x150 cm ognuno/each one, nastri e picchetti/tape and stakes, Monte Sabotino (Gorizia / Nova Gorica - Italia/Slovenia) 2010

In this sense, the installation of Elisa Vladilo is set up as a sort of "seam" on the borders of their respective countries, as if to symbolize a mending of the territories, a reunification of the most effective and profound respect for identity, bringing this way the land back to the original unity, as it was divided by men over time. An ironic seam, playful, cheerful, a defusing and almost propitiatory for a happy coexistence.
As Running Fence (by Christo and Jeanne- Claude) that runs along a portion of the landscape, but in a different way: it does not affix anything, but celebrates a kind of ritual, a reminder of the brotherhood, which emphasizes what already exists: the unity of places (whose boundaries are a mental construct, immaterial and insubstantial).

JPEG - 194.6 kb
Stitching the border, 150x150 cm ognuno/each one, nastri e picchetti/tape and stakes, Monte Sabotino (Gorizia / Nova Gorica - Italia/Slovenia) 2010

And in a sort of reverse of the Lightning Field by Walter De Maria, in which nature is bent to the art through the lightning rods, the art returns its leadership to the nature, sewing up through the strips of colored tape the two ends of the territories which are legally strangers, but of course contiguous. The superstructure invented by the law – the border - is canceled by the essentiality of the natural facts: rocks, ridges, rivers, mountains, do not know nothing about separation, property, State.

Color and music, a noble father for urban conviviality
The link with Kandinsky [2] (along with Rothko and Nicola De Maria, a tutelary deity for the artistic production of Elisa) seems to echo in her “sound” installations.
As in Summertime (Trieste, 2010), in which some hay rolls, colored with the usual bright tones are located in the Trieste pedestrian area. George Gershwin’s music, the song that gives title to the installation itself, is emitted from the round bales in thirty different interpretations.

JPEG - 73.6 kb
Summertime, 170x120 cm ognuno/each one, pittura lavabile su rotoballe di fieno/washable paint on hay rolls, suono/sound: Summertime, G.Gershwin, (Ingegnere del suono/Sound Engineer: Giulio Budini) Celjski Mladinski Center, Celje (Slovenija) 2011

The summer corner, created with typical elements of agricultural areas, gives life to the urban space through color and music, and the low volume – that allows to hear only in the proximity of the bale – seeks an intimate relationship with the audience.

JPEG - 63.6 kb
Summertime, 170x120 cm ognuno/each one, pittura lavabile su rotoballe di fieno/washable paint on hay rolls, Summertime, G.Gershwin, (Ingegnere del suono/ Sound Engineer: Giulio Budini), Via Genova - Via Dante, Trieste 2010

Music, which according to Kandinsky is contained in the combinations of color and shape [3], becomes in the work of Elisa Vladilo a real sound that supports the joyful displacement and wonder generated by the installation and the new and different perception of urban places.

JPEG - 71.9 kb
Summertime, 170x120 cm ognuno/each one, pittura lavabile su rotoballe di fieno/washable paint on hay rolls, suono/sound: Summertime, G.Gershwin, (Ingegnere del suono/Sound Engineer: Giulio Budini) Celjski Mladinski Center, Celje (Slovenija) 2011

A displacement that will return in The sound of color, an installation made of bright orange felt crosswalks, which conceal a kind of surprise: from one of them rises, when it is stepped on, a Meredith Monk piece. In both cases, the disorientation that results from the contact with the work has a playful, ironic nuance, and it aims to set out the viewer to an almost childlike discovery of the world of wonder and joy.

JPEG - 76 kb

Emotions to be shared between the public and private
An almost intimate dimension in spite of the public nature of the interventions is apparent in some of the projects implemented in Trieste, such as the colored columns of the San Michele Gardens.

JPEG - 212 kb
Giocando col colore, 200x50 cm, Acrilico su PVC/acrilyc paint on PVC, Giardini San Michele, Trieste 2000

It was made in the form of workshop with the children and mothers of the Andandes association which manages the gardens themselves, first with colored PVC and then painting directly on the surface of the columns, Giocando col colore (Playing with color) is a work that is regularly restored through workshops of volunteers.

JPEG - 220.5 kb
Giocando col colore, 200x50 cm, Acrilico su PVC/acrilyc paint on PVC, Giardini San Michele, Trieste 2000

The work My favorite place (Trieste 2007) is an installation consisting of colored foam and felt that enlivens the Audace dock: while it represents a public intervention par excellence, as it is always accessible and open to anyone, it acquires a strictly personal dimension, starting from the title that identifies it as a place of meditation and personal pleasure, that in this case the artist chooses to share not only as a physical place, but also empathetic, as an immaterial space of emotions.

JPEG - 46.7 kb
My favourite place, 600 mq, gommapiuma e feltro/ foam and felt, Molo Audace, Trieste 2007

Blue, chosen to derive a little shining area in the gray pier itself, leads to reflection, as it is the color that belongs to the sea, and yet, in the absolute brightness and brilliance, it detaches from it: felt, felt fabric, the foam that wrap the architectural elements of the pier (bollards, street lamp) underlines the sense of shelter.

JPEG - 61.6 kb
My favourite place, 600 mq, gommapiuma e feltro/ foam and felt, Molo Audace, Trieste 2007

On the other hand the use of color means to Elisa Vladilo sharing. Always. Even when it becomes a beam of light, as in Belfagor, a work in the atrium of the Museum Revoltella (Trieste, 2011) that, by linking the colored light with the museum space evokes ironically and playfully a Ghost of the Revoltella (a lively reassessment the famous Phantom of the Louvre).

JPEG - 61.6 kb
Belfagor, 60 mq, luci colorate/coloured lights, Museo Revoltella, Trieste 2011
¢ photo Max Gardone

Or again, when the color turns into light curtains, as in the project in Aus der farbe Heraus ( Klagenfurth - Austria 2011), an installation that consists of strands of acetate silene suspended on the Landcanal of the town.
The title comes from a concept expressed by Goethe about the ethical and aesthetic power of color, in which the work of Elisa Vladilo can be fully defined. The wires - all in warm colors - "dialogue" with the green and the blue of the landscape and are suspended above the water.
The color turns almost into a veil, which establishes a connection between the water and the trees but without being invasive, remaining airy and almost translucent. Its movement is reflected - as all the scenery around – in the mirror of the channel, creating a subtle play of transparency and it grafts in the convivial atmosphere of the surroundings.

JPEG - 187.7 kb
Aus der farbe Heraus, 500x360 cm ognuno/each one, fili di silene acetate/acetate silene lines, LendKanal, Klagenfurt (Austria) 2011

Living space in an unusual way, regaining public place and recovering the roots, breaking down boundaries and barriers to recover the essence of the human condition: this is the art of Elisa Vladilo. A tailored suit for places that we see clearly but we struggle to perceive: the unsettling surprise in the urban landscape, the music unexpectedly in a fragment of summer, all wrapped up in color and space that gives life. A search for harmony through the harmony of colors, that the artist leads with an open mind and deep spirituality: «I like to think of the natural law that governs the universe and try to offer her my ear, patiently, carefully, reducing to the most the superstructure that hides the intrinsic value of all things».

Footnotes

[1«If a place can be defined as relational, historical, and concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place. [...] Supermodernity produces non-places, meaning spaces which are not themselves anthropological places and which unlike Baudelairean modernity, do not integrate the earlier places: instead these are listed, classified, promoted to the status of "places of memory", and assigned to a circumscribed and specific position». M. Auge’, Non-places. Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, trad. John Howe, Verso, London 1995, pp. 44-45)

[2«Therefore, colour is a means of execising direct influence upon the soul. Colour is the keyboard. The eye is the hammer, while the soul is a piano of many strings. The artist is the hand through which the medium of different case causes the human soul to vibrate. It is thus evident that colour harmony can rest only on the principle of the corresponding vibration of the human soul». (Wassily Kandinsky, On the spiritual in art, published by the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation, Hilla Rebay ed., N.Y. 1946 (Digitalized by Internet Archive in 2011 from Solomon Guggenheim Foundation), p. 42)

[3«This unavoidable influence and mutual relation between form and colour causes us to observe the effect, which form has in colour. The form, even if entirely abstract and resembling a geometric figure, has its inner harmony and is a spiritual being with characteristics identical to it» W. Kandinsky, op. cit., p. 47)

View online : Elisa Vladilo website

Translated by Antonella Opera