Originally from Italy, but now based in Manchester, UK, Paola Bazz is an emerging artist who is rapidly picking up recognition! 2016 has been a busy year for Paola, with exhibitions in Brussels, Manchester and London already under her belt and two upcoming exhibits this month at the Affordable Art Fair in NY and at LAPADA fair in Mayfair, London.
Paola told us all about taking inspiration from Jean-Michel Basquiat, Chuck Close and Jean-Pierre Yvaral and offers a few words of wisdom to other artists...
On becoming an artist: "Creativity was essential to me as an only child"
“I was born in Padua, in the north east of Italy in a very creative and unusual family characterised by curiosity, passion for travelling and a love for recovering materials.
My grandmother and my mother always taught me how to reuse materials by transforming them into something new. My father found a joy in manual work, while my grandfather loved drawing and painting. My family taught me a lot and opened my eyes to the vast possibilities of making and thinking about art.
Creativity was essential to me as an only child. Making art taught me how to be autonomous and how to carry out my projects independently of the input and the help of others.
In my formative years, I studied painting, drawing and a degree in Architecture at IUAV University in Venice in 1991. Professionally I went on to work on house renovations, interiors and retail designs, museums, temporary exhibitions and theatrical scenography but always continued to paint on the side.
In 2008 I began making artworks using printed paper recycled from magazines, newspapers and catalogues. I then made the decision in 2010 to leave my job as an architect and to concentrate solely on this new form of art.”
On being an artist: "Today we are more diverse in how we live and our situation changes rapidly. I reflect this multiplicity."
“Being an artist gives me the chance to document the present day and to understand our society with its kaleidoscope of constant and rapid changes. Through art I draw attention to how our identity is destructed and re-constructed and how our lifestyle effects the environment. I use art as a way to present a fresh perspective on all these topics.
I really struggle to categorize myself as a specific type of artist. This is probably due to my education as I have worked in so many different fields: art, architecture, design and scenography.
In my parents' generation, people generally had the same job for 40 years, they were married to the same person, lived in the same place, and had the same interests their entire life. Artists painted, sculpted or designed. Today we are more diverse in how we live and our situation changes rapidly. I reflect this multiplicity.
On the studio: "A sanctuary I’ve created for myself"
“My studio is at home in a large room with a large set of windows, it’s spacious, airy and has lots of natural light. It has two desks, speakers to play music and a white wall on which I hang pictures that inspire me.
It is a sanctuary I’ve created for myself, where there are no distractions and where I can abandon myself to my work.”
On inspiration and work: "My work gives a vivid record of our society"
“I take inspiration from almost everything. I like to depict strangers and use images of real people. Sometimes they are ordinary people from the street, sometimes from social media, sometimes celebrities.
To create my fragmented 3D portraits I use printed-paper, which for me is a mass-produced commodity of our popular culture. I then put the paper back together in fragments, half-finished sentences, faces, letters, in a sort of jigsaw puzzle that represents our frantic everyday life. My work gives a vivid record of our society.
I don’t try to reproduce the people in my portraits in an identical manner. Rather I want to show that our identity is in a permanent state of flux, constantly changing.
My work could be described as either figurative, or abstract. From afar, my portraits look like pixelated faces, but look closer and they reveal very complex abstract images.
I hope for my work to be visually and intellectually engaging. I want the viewer to establish a continuous cross-reference between the messages contained in the paper and the overall image.”
On challenges: "Creativity needs to be fed"
“To be honest I don’t often experience creative blocks. I have some tricks that help me stay away from them, which I use every day.
Creativity needs to be constantly fed and trained. To avoid being short of ideas, one needs to adopt different perspectives. Travelling to new places or reading, watching and listening to new material always helps. Being curious is key.
Most importantly, I need to feed my brain with new images. Any image found in the street, newspapers, books, advertising, television or social media will do.
Creativity demands focus and you can’t be distracted by personal problems or any other kind of interference. When I work I set my problems aside and focus only on my pieces.”
On other artists: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Chuck Close and Jean-Pierre Yvaral
“Writer and painter Jean-Michel Basquiat inspires me in the way he uses words as an integral part of his paintings.
Hyperrealistic painter Chuck Close also inspires me. I love his large scale portraits and admire his method.
He starts by sketching a grid on a photograph and then scales the grid up on a larger canvas. He then paints each individual box, creating images that are simple yet extremely complex. From far away, they are amazing portraits and up close they reveal very clean-cut details.
Lastly I'm inspired by Jean-Pierre Yvaral, an Op Artist. Yvaral was really interested in optics and psychiatric perception. His method really influences mine; he would digitally manipulate his portraits to the point that they became abstract compositions.”
On role models: "I admire the curious"
“I don’t have a specific role model. I just believe we can learn new things through observing the actions of others. I respect people who are resilient, determined, intelligent, humorous, kind, selfless and strong.
I also really admire people that are forever curious, like Leonardo da Vinci or Albert Einstein.”
On life: "I think of myself as a nomad"
“I live in Manchester, UK, and have done for four years. I have previously lived in Brussels and in many different places across Italy.
I think of myself as a nomad and very much like this lifestyle! It means independence, continuously gaining new experiences, making connections, new opportunities and ultimately challenging myself.”
On Artfinder: "The Internet and social media are crucial"
“Artfinder is definitely one of the best ways to gain exposure. Artfinder makes it easy. I joined Artfinder in 2015 and since the beginning it has been a great way for me to connect to thousands of art lovers and artists in countries all over the world. The Internet and social media are crucial nowadays.”
Advice for other artists: "Believe in what you're doing"
“Be original and obstinate. Believe in what you're doing and work hard. Stay humble and learn from others. Take criticism, it helps you to grow up. Never give up".
On the future: "I aspire to explore other mediums"
2016 has been a very productive year for me! I have exhibited across Brussels, London and Manchester, including 'International Paper Art Biennial 2016', ‘Going Pop’ at Lacey Contemporary Gallery and ‘Cutting edge’ at Store Street Gallery.
In the future, my aspiration is to try and reach a bigger audience, as well as exploring other mediums.”