Artist Federica Colletti breaks down art hierarchy through collage
Italian digital collage artist Federica Colletti says "art is a piece of the soul made tangible." Whether working through the ink of a pen or a brushstroke on a canvas, it is a form of creative expression that allows someone to convey a message or connect with other people. Federica brings her concepts alive by fusing paintings from famous artists, past or present, with other popular references in an arbitrary way–think of a world where René Magritte's Golconda, Francesco Hayez's The Kiss, and Disney masterpieces collide.
Born and raised in Rome, Italy's reputation for producing some of the world's most renowned painters, especially during the Renaissance era, has left its influential stamp on 26-year-old Federica. She explains to us why she opts to use reoccurring themes throughout her collages. Themes such as love, time, courage, trust, and distrust–allow her to reverse perspectives and reconstruct a new frame of reference for one's self.
She began making "art for pure personal pleasure," she tells us, but over time this has evolved into commissions. Surrealist oil painter René Magritte was someone that left a mark on her growing up, especially his famous The False Mirror artwork from 1929. The painting depicts a human eye framing a cloudy, blue sky in place of the iris. The allusive work insinuates limits to the authority of optical vision, implying the eye is both subjective and reflective. Federica told us the painting completely "conquered" her emotionally and "swallowed" her up into Magritte's hypnagogic escape.
"I thought about entering the painting, literally. I portrayed myself within it through digital changes and I liked the result. Starting from this simple experiment, my passion was born," she explains. Federica began depicting "concepts using works of art from masters of the past." These masters of the past were sometimes at the center of her reinterpretations, while other times they were just the vehicle to talk about certain themes. She began seeing people connecting with this format of work more than just a simple drawing, so began developing work around this.
With a background in the psychology of communication, Federica says the critical thinking behind movements such as Art Nouveau and Surrealism have influenced her approach to creating and looking at work. "I feel very close to the latter for its creative process: free-flowing ideas and attention dedicated to personal observations, plus independent thinking that arises from this mentality. This work is born from non-judgmental observations arising from the spontaneous flow of thoughts, without the filter of rationality that interrupts or influences its flow," she tells us.
An amalgamation of popular culture with more classical periods or high art, her collages can be everything from humorous to chilling. We ask her what sort of reaction she thinks people get from viewing her work, she replies, "The real meaning of my works is also obscure to myself. I don't always have to 'decide' what to create, it is the creation itself that takes shape from thoughts, sometimes unconscious, that intertwine with what I find myself in every day or with the sight of a work of art."
Federica joins a list of creators who have found a soft spot online by mixing popular culture with more traditional high modern art. The dialogue between the two worlds has been studied and celebrated in depth over the past three decades, featuring in advertising, graffiti, comics, and caricatures. What might appear to just be humor is also a way to see what history might tell us about modern life. By combining popular culture with modern art, the boundaries between 'high art' and 'mass-culture' appear to dissolve. The concept is that there is no hierarchy of culture and that art may borrow from any source. We put together a gallery of Federica's work to grasp what sources she infused together and references she makes to modern life.