I met Italian artist Francesca Borgo at The Other Art Fair in October. Her dreamy, abstract pieces caught my eye and I just had to have a chat with her! In 2016, Francesca leapt from a career in science into art; taking her love for experimentation with her. Francesca hopes her art will create a stronger dialogue between mankind and nature. She uses natural materials to enhance her dramatic scenes. We spoke about her mission to reawaken and remind people of where we come from and what role art plays in our current climate crisis.
How did The Other Art Fair go for you?
I loved being in London and catching up with friends. It was great to have a stand; selling art and also getting feedback from people. I Was at the The Other Art Fair in March and it was nice to see the same people. It’s a healthy, collaborative environment.
What does art mean to you?
It’s become more important to me in the last few years. I wanted to spend all of my spare time doing art: painting at the weekends, painting during my holiday – whenever I had time. So, I decided to get a part time job so I had more time to paint. If something nurtures me and makes me feel happier, and I feel I can be free and express myself – I know I will end up doing it. So, in 2016 I decided to change things. In the first year I experimented a lot; which is a big part of me, because I was working as a scientist doing experiments every day! I love trying new things.
Art allows us to face something that is very intimate – it brings us closer to who we are, and who we want to be.
You told me that when you paint you feel connected to earth – what role does nature play in your work?
Something I often do when I feel stressed, confused or angry is: I go outside. It grounds me to go to high places where I can see a panoramic view and the horizon. When I started painting more seriously, I started to use more textured mediums like sand, because I love the feel of things. We are now so immersed in an electronic world. I feel a need to touch physical things. And painting gives me that. I like how I feel when I’m with nature and so, I want to put nature into my paintings.
I like how you describe your paintings as being a dialogue between the land and the sky; between man and nature; between the individual and society. Tell us more about this.
I want to portray a place where there is no separation; it is a place where dialogue can happen. So, by applying natural materials to a canvas, like sand – it gives depth to the painting and offers another dimension. It’s a reminder that this is where we come from. In the studio, it’s my way of bringing nature and the outside world, inside with me.
There are times to shout and times to whisper.
How do you think art can aid towards raising awareness of our current climate crisis?
The environment in general is something that concerns me a lot. I don’t have kids but I still want to leave the world in a good place for future generations. It’s a real mess and it makes me angry that we are not doing enough – including myself. I want my art to be a reminder that we need to respect the other. The ‘other’ meaning: someone else; kids, women, animals, nature, water. Only when we acknowledge the ‘other’ can we feel accomplished; in the recognition that we are a part of something bigger. There is a need for us to be more respectful to our world and to appreciate what has been given to us.
‘From up over’
As an artist, how do you intend to help the cause?
I would like people to recognise that we can’t keep taking from the world: from other people; from animals etc. We need to create a dialogue of give and take. A dialogue helps us to grow and learn from each other. It’s in these conversations that we discover who we are. In us wanting more, the environment is decaying. This is not a winning situation for anyone.
I would love to do more with my art. I like to give reminders of what is socially important in a subtle way; sometimes shouting can scare people. When people feel comforted and not threatened, they are more likely to give more of their time and energy to help a cause. So I try and offer this in my art; there are times to shout and times to whisper.
It’s my way of bringing nature and the outside world, inside with me.
In a world with so many increasing uncertainties and pressures – how does art help you?
I often feel pressured by time and the need to be; successful, young, pretty etc – there is a long list. There is even more pressure now because we have the internet; where we need to be connected constantly. Trying to make art a profession also creates anxiety. When I paint I feel so free and in control of my journey; it takes me to another dimension and I feel connected to the canvas. I don’t feel like I need to be someone else – it’s just me and my colours. Art allows us to face something that is very intimate; it brings us closer to who we are, and who we want to be.
What is next in store for you?
I am working on a commission for a lovely family, and I’m thinking of creating an abstract painting for their daughter. Other than that, I have an Art fair in Amsterdam called EuropArtFair (6th – 8th Dec). I’ve never been there, so hopefully I have time to explore!
I love travelling and meeting new people; it can be quite isolating doing art, so it’s nice to get outside. I love art fairs because they give you direct contact with viewers, and it’s always interesting to hear what people think and feel when they experience your art.
To view Francesca’s art: