A meeting with Vera Bugatti
What achievement makes you the most proud?
When I’m able to move feelings with my art. Most people stop at my painting cause they are curious about the technique of creating anamorphic pieces. Moreover some of them at final are affected by the meaning I wish to put in my artworks and want to know why I do that. And that’s the point. I think a street artist is a storyteller. It is on you what you want to say to the viewer and you have the opportunity to get thousands of eyes just passing by your art. How could you tell them stop, hey, listen to me?I got a lot of attention from people for the meaning of the pavement artwork Threatened Peace that I created in Sarajevo for the anniversary of 20 years on Peace in Bosnia, or recently with the anamorphic mural To be passing I painted in Poggibonsi, Italy. It has the correct point of view on the 5th step on the way to the old town and it shows 3 holes, such as burial plots. The first one (the biggest and the most distorted cause it is the most far from the point of view) contains a sleeping giant fetus that is keeping his umbilical cord. From the ceiling a light bulb hangs out. It has a fish inside. The second burial plot shows a man in a elegant but shabby dress. He is looking ouside and he seems lost in a thought. Between his legs you can see again the umbilical cord, just a little more rigid. He represents a man after the midlife who is considering his personal sense thinking to death and memory. In the third plot you can only find the light bulb. It is on the pavement and it contains half liquid. The fish is no longer there. The umbilical cord, rigid as a branch, is passing by the plot and continues into the wall (to a unknown place). This last plot is the place of death, small in the painting but bigger from the right point of view (exactly the same size of the birth plot). I wanted to represent soul as a fish therefore I could also call it consciusness. Water is the memory and it can be also after our passing.
Favourite Dutch food ( if you know anything of course )
Potatoes in general and the dutch pea soup, also called snert, obviously with a Trappist bee
From who did you learned the most ?
I did not receive a formal training on art. I always painted and I grew step by step, making many mistakes, learning on the street. I took part in various exhibitions and I performed in several Street Art events all over the world and I think all the artists I met let me something.
What do you really love?
I am a librarian so I have a big passion for books, history and literature. For some years I researched on XVI century editions and the complicated world of heretical ideas was my field. I still feel a big commitment to that arguments and my house is full of books in that sense. And I love when this passion for XVI century comes into my street art. And that is the situation of my big London wall Teratology. It was related to environment issues. Above all on how bad behaviors humans are wearing respect to nature in general. The term teratology stems from the Greek τέρας teras meaning “monster” or “marvel”, and λόγος logos, “the study of the word”. Generally It refers to the abnormalities of physiological development, to congenital malformations or individuals with significant malformations. Rather, in my artwork the use of the word goes to the meanings it had especially in 16-17th century, a discourse on prodigies and marvels of anything so extraordinary as to seem abnormal. Unique and extraordinary creatures were considered to be prodigies. Many chroniclers tried to explain the existence of such departures from ‘normal’ by juxtaposing both natural causes (following Aristotle), and divine responsibility, (following St. Augustine’s idea that Nature reflects the will of God). Monsters were thus viewed as signs and portents through which God communicated with man. Especially during the religious wars of the 16th century, they were often interpreted as political or religious omens. In my painting the girl (she has young face but hard arms as an adult!) holds an angry cock with a body that reminds a goat or a lamb. One hand is embracing it, the other seems to keep it in a hard way. The position is similar to many ones in the religious iconography. On the shoulder of the girl another strange animal is holding a piece of meal. It has the astonished face of a curious fish and half body of a rat. On the top, close to the dirty bowl kept on the head of the girl, a worried pink monster fish. Still don’t know if she is a human child spirit or a nature one, if she is saving these extraordinary creatures or if she is catching/hunting them (and to do what at final?), if she is part of the dangerous changing and if so, in what scary way? What is expected?
Which museum you like to curate for 1 exhibition?
Interesting question. There are many contemporary museums in my heart so choiche is hard. In Italy my favorite is The Rivoli castle (but also the MAXXI in Rome or the MART in Rovereto and many others). Outside Italy the Mumok in Vienna, the Hamburger Banhof in Berlin, the Reina Sofia in Madrid. in Holland I could say the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam or the Escher Museum in The Hague. I’m thinking now to the Guggenheim in Bilbao and in my mind the exhibition would be on anamorphic art, with some original ancient pieces shown next to contemporary artworks. I started anamorphic street art about 4 years ago. Before performing on the streets I painted some anamorphic artworks on wood. A project that I called Memory theater and that I really love. Small 3D paintings that the viewer could see in the right prospective looking through cylindrical mirrors (I send you a picture in attached). The dishes have electric moving so people can see the images – most portraits – moving and changing fast, as an homage to the pre-cinema machines. I consider that artworks as elegies of the time passing. Well, I made a personal exhibition showing that machines close to the ancient books dedicated to prospective illusions. Think to a event in Bilbao with big contemporary installations close to glasses with original ancient projects. Illusions, machines, new magics.
With who would you like to do a collaboration?
Several artists, some died ones obviously. Well, some contemporary ones as Jenny Saville and Ron Mueck. And on Street art well, is not easy cause artists I love have a very personal style so it could be curious see what could happen working together. Think to ROA, Smug, WD, MTO, BLU, Phlegm, Etam Crew, Natalia Rak. In anamorphic pavement art think I am friend with the most part of the world artists and I’d like to create a piece with my friend Eduardo Relero from Argentina. I think he is the best and unique.
What is your biggest disappointment?
Indifference. Thinking only to our own small world ignoring the others. Don’t mind about something bad that happens around you is the worst you can do. Our silent permits bad things happen again. The ugliest side of that is trust our culture and ideas most correct than others, it cuts any dialogue. That’s why many of my paintings are on social issues, on ontological ideas, on environment to save. Cause we are destroying all around us and inside us.
Which exhibition that you have seen, inspired you the most?
I think each one (born with a good sense in art critique) could give you suggestions to have a dialogue with. When you come out from an exhibition you are run over by the wish to create more. I get that feeling after visiting XVI-XVII centuries sketches and fast drawings. They are vivid and dynamic. Therefore the first exhibition that fascinated me deeply as cool electricity was ‘Bacon Freud Expressions’ at Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in 1995. I was 16.
Who would you like to be for 1 day ?
Complex question.. I could say Leonardo da Vinci or another genius. Therefore I say that I’d like to be as a spirit that could see all the world in 24 hours, getting cultures and wisdom, trying to understand why things go in someway, why so bad, searching for solutions, finding myself at final. Too much? Think so.
Rembrandt or Mondrian and why ?
Rembrandt. Since I was child I felt fascinated by his self-portraits and by the fading of the brushstrokes into dark. The relief of impastos can intensify highlights by increasing the light-reflecting properties of the paint. Especially I love how he in his later period created heavier impastos in paintings modified by thin glazes of color giving special illusory effects. (It is believed that Rembrandt’s eyes failed to align correctly, and he suffered from stereo blindness)
What is your best quality?
I answer considering what friends told me about that in last few years. Someone talked about the determination I put in my projects. They say even if I am shy and emotional I can be dogged (and sometimes stubborn) when I feel to do something. Someone else told me that I am modest (but I don’t think I’m always as they see) and kind with all the people I meet and that I never talk bad about anyone (and that is true). I think everyone has(had) his own troubles so kindness and tolerance are essential.
Favourite Song ?
It’s impossible, there are a lot of songs, a lot of lists I could do. I love most the progressive music from seventies. Especially the italian one. But really, I could not say one. I often painted listening to Rachel’s Music for Egon Schiele or Tiersen’s C’était ici.
Do you have a (strange) ritual ?
Oh, I think no. I’m strange in general haha. When I make street art I often talk by myself (and you heard me in Dubai) and I’m totally in the creation. Visitors shoud think that I’m at the phone so I’m safe. To be considered crazy , I cannot listen to people and often I cannot listen to music when I paint. It is as I should be alone even if many people are around. Don’t know why. I start relaxing only last few hours when the most part is done.
When is the last time you had to cry?
Two days ago. Sometimes head is full of pain. Tears are good to wash that pain away for a while, trying to find a sense to ourselves. Who we are ?
Favourite movie ?
Big Fish by Tim Burton, one of hist most surrealistic movies, widely influenced by Daniel Wallace’s A Novel of Mythic Proportions. Edward Bloom allegedly lives an extraordinary life. The truth of his tales is irrelevant. It is by inventing these tales that we make sense of our lives – make it possible, in some way, to live them. The point of the film is that finding the actual, hard truth behind things is often a fool’s errand.
What is your goal for this year ?
I’d like to paint some new murals with social message. My wall in London has been replaced by and advert just a month ago. When I painted it I knew it would be ephemeral. It lasted about 9 months so a lot respect to what I expected. Even though I knew it would happen.. I was a bit sad. Therefore that gave me surely a new energy to create another big piece. I’d like to say something against violence without representing that. In my pieces you can always find something surreal or magic close to a sad or groteske character. That balance hasn’t to be broken. Last 3 pavement pieces I created – in Antwerp, Malta and USA – were dedicated to environment crisis, ocean, animals on a critique moment, always with irony, that is my filter to react sad things through art/heart.