Giorgia Ricci is an Italian illustrator originally from Rimini, who lives a couple of miles from Treviso in her home-cum-studio. She welcomes us into her fantasy world populated by a surprising variety of female faces and other recurring elements which are portrayed on walls, canvases, objects and furnishings. Caught between reality and representation, down-to-earth existence and a dream world, her work is a great repository that is both experimental and fun, allegorical and shrewd, pure and madly feminine. A figurative babel where the predominance of decoration is the new “common language”, the stylistic feature of her expressive language. Reflecting a sparkling inner dimension which Giorgia invites us to share without standing on ceremony.
My work is the result of continuous, constant research that you can’t really define as a “profession”, just as you can’t call me an “artist” in the strict sense of the word. My work is the culmination of everything I do and love: nature, the things around me, the people who are on the same wavelength as me, the experiences I have had. Drawing is everything to me, it’s more than just a passion, it’s a necessity I have. Then there is my need and my way of developing it through painting or collage and applying it to the rest. Fashion is definitely a direct channel but I can also apply my work to design and crafts, in addition to art for art’s sake.
– How did you become an artist? How did you get started?
Initially I was drawn to the world of fashion so I took a course in it at Polimoda in Florence. I later attended ISIA (Higher Institute of Industrial Arts) in Urbino and it was during this experience that I realised I had a deep passion for images and their elaboration. I had found a vehicle that suited my expressive research, especially with photography, a thing that felt really “mine”. I used to spend whole days in the darkroom. Then the way I constructed images changed, particularly when I started my job in 2000 at Fabrica, the Benetton Group’s creative communication research centre. It was the years of the transition from analogue to digital and I found myself catapulted into a different world. So I took up drawing again and I drew and drew, and people liked what I did. That familiar “refuge” became a way of expressing my imagination which, in the meantime, voraciously devoured everything I came into contact with. I drew all the time, I couldn’t get enough of it. They were years of great freedom, I was in my early twenties, and as I filled my “diaries” with entries about what I saw and felt, I explored different worlds and preserved a sense of escape and lightness, something I need to be happy. I’ve got cases and cases of diaries! A number of important projects were inspired by my diary writings, like the book “Wandering aimlessly” which, as the title suggests, recalls the happy years of our youth when we were still “allowed” to daydream and could give free rein to our inspiration, our creative drive, in our work, without worrying about clients, money, time and other factors that then came into play. And then there was “Soulmate”, a key concept for me and the name of my solo exhibition at the Browning Gallery in Asolo. “Soulmate” expressed a sense of empathic, elective affinity with the possibility of profoundly sharing things, of mutual enrichment. Another thing I believe in and which I strive for.
– This feeling of freedom is hard for anyone to preserve, even for someone like you who loves what they do so much. Your home plays an important part in your work: it’s a place where you live, work, rest…
I’d say it’s vital. My home reflects who I am, but you need great discipline to live in harmony. I love things to be neat and tidy and find beauty in them. Looking after my home has a beneficial effect on me, it makes me feel in harmony with the world. I couldn’t manage without it. Just as it is instinct to me to draw and put my drawings on objects I like. It gives me great pleasure, it is a demonstration of the love I have for them. This continuum gives me poetic inspiration, which keeps my dreamlike dimension alive. Another way of putting it is that my home is my personal “playground”. In a way my work never ends but, in the evening, I get a rush of adrenaline because I’ve achieved so much. Living in the countryside near a town where I can get hold of everything I need, is a great help, it means I don’t have to waste time and can stay focused.
– A playground where your sensitivity can express itself in an original and personal way, from the interior furnishings to the garden furniture: is this welcoming green space filled with flowers an inspiration to you, too?
I adore nature in general and I have a soft spot for some gardens you find in southern Italy, like the “La Mortella” gardens in Ischia, which have a special place in my heart. I spent years doing botanical illustrations. However inspiration comes from within. Today, my more mature works feature aspects which have always been a part of me and which continue to come to the fore, creating original combinations and contaminations. The female figures I draw, paint or create in my collages are the result of my research into beauty, the same thing that happened with my photography, where I often portrayed woman and young girls. When I lose myself in a drawing, in the details of hair or petals on a flower, it has a calming, almost hypnotic effect on me … They are worlds that have totally absorbed me and which I transfer to everything I do. At other times in my life I have explored other aspects of my imagination. There are mythological elements, holy elements from popular culture, more grungy, aggressive and punk details in a lot of my other work.
– Is there a recent work that conveys this “consecration of femininity” and sums up your unique, eclectic style?
Over the past few months I have been working on porcelain plates which my drawings have been applied to, “Porcelain trays”. They were displayed in the underground space at the Caterina Da Siena Institute during Milan Design Week, alongside works by Gala Fernandez, a great friend of mine, and some other artists, thanks to the Marion Friedman Gallery in London. I love them.
Cover. photographer Marco Zanin