“Making art is a necessity, it is my way of communicating; Sometimes you are less successful, and this gives you the chance to stop, think and observe. I believe this is the greatest fortune”
AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?
NC: I come from Lissone, a town about thirty kilometres far from Milan. My mother loves telling how, while waiting for our turn at the pediatrician, I used to transform paper tissues into small dolls which I often gave to the doctor.
AT: When did it become serious?
NC: I think it has always been serious. Over time, perhaps, it has only become more and more aware and responsible.
AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?
NC: There have been plenty. All the people I have dealt with over the years, for better or worse, have been significant for me and for my growth. Anyone who spent time on my pieces left me something I then digested and returned to work.
AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?
NC: It is the attempt to give back the approach I have with the world and with what I observe daily through another language, which is that of art; a continuous swallowing and trying to digest and to go back. I imagine stories and invent characters all the time; I look around and try to imagine which possible stories have brought people where, at that specific moment. Those visions become material which I begin to work from.
“Agitating chunks of matter in uncertain space (dx)”, Iron, powder coating, resin, 205x60x17,5 cm, 2020 | Installation view of “SAM” at BITCORP for ART, Milan, 2020 | ph. by Luca Matarazzo.
AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?
NC: I ask ‘users’ to interact with the story I create, trying to solicit their memories and personal experiences I hope would become a common platform in which I ask them to complete the story I began. Combining aggressive and, sometimes repulsive, elements is as if you invite the viewer to deepen their feelings and emotions, even the most uncomfortable ones. I was a little girl raised in Tank Girl comics, punk music and techno parties: weirdness and creepiness were never absent.
AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?
NC: Wood, iron and clay, often compared to synthetic materials such as resins and plexiglass. The craftsmanship is sometimes supported by industrial processes, aiming to eroticise different materials.
AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?
NC: Usually I display an image in my mind that it is one I want to get as close as possible to, in the final outcome. This does not preclude, especially in the sculptures, the ability to change and evolve. Often and willingly, I see individual small goals to reach in the process of work; sometimes I don’t start from visual suggestions but from feelings I want to evoke. The sculpture allows me to “let go”, to work more from the belly, leaving space to the material I am dealing with in order to move and evolve; in the drawing, however, it is more about a struggle of power, I need to control both, the tools I use and the technique, which I try to take more and more to the extreme, making it almost maniacal.
AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?
NC: Sometimes it happens and you feel it. Other times it’s harder. There are occasions where the final result has almost nothing to do with the image I had initially pictured and the sensations are not exactly the same as I thought I wanted to give back. It happens so that the result manages to surprise me; maybe I was not totally ready and aware but my work was and felt the needs to express itself differently from what had been my initial intentions. They are perhaps the best-managed pieces.
“A friend of mine once told me something about phantom limb”, Terracotta, powder coating iron, threaded rod, vinyl glue, acrylic, varnish 80x29x20 cm, 75x29x13,5 cm, 2020| Installation view of “SAM” at BITCORP for ART, Milan, 2020 | ph. by Luca Matarazzo.
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?
NC: I’m not sure inspiration is the right word. Inspiration assumes that something else, divine, has acted on me in some way; I don’t think that’s exactly how it works. I never talk about things I don’t know and I think what I want to communicate is closely related to who I am and what I might be in relation to everything else; a little bit like psychoactive substances, they don’t create images in your head out of nowhere, they just go to dig where maybe you didn’t want to look, into that unconscious knowledge that we all have inside of us.
AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?
NC: There have been several: Mike Kelley, the Chapman Brothers, Sarah Lucas, Pino Pascali, Jamie Hawlett, Guido Crepax, Milo Manara, the Spiral Tribe and the Pornoriviste… I could go on. I think the motivation is the same for everyone; I found something in them, something I wanted to be; they have me and they still teach me to look for the most effective language.
AT: How important is the role of social media for you?
NC: I strongly believe they should have less relevance and importance than I am forced-not without a feeling of submission- to recognise them. They are a tool of great importance to make their work known. In recent years, social media aimed to know the realities and the work of other artists. Although it is always a superficial knowledge, it must be attributed a role within the art system. I often struggle to relate with it; I don’t think I’m a good example to follow, but I’m trying to make the most of these channels and try not to succumb over them. I have been offered exhibitions through social media and I have used similar opportunities to show my work to a group of users I probably would not have otherwise been able to achieve. They are tools that must be understood to be exploited in all their potential, without going to harm what I believe being fundamental; that is to enter into a relationship with a physical work, just as the human relationship can not ignore physical contact and real knowledge : despite their fundamental role they can never replace the magical moment in which you see , observe and “feel” a work.
“Obsession (hair)/(eye)”, Ink on paper, glass, terracotta, 56×76 cm each, 2020 | Installation view of “SAM” at BITCORP for ART, Milan, 2020 | ph. by Luca Matarazzo.
AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?
NC: What frightens me is the possibility to succumb the system and to lose the freedom this job offers us; art is a different thing that has nothing to do with the idea of the system. System deals with economy, surely necessary, even though it should never become tyrannical.
AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
NC: Making art is a necessity, it is my way of communicating; Sometimes you are less successful, and this gives you the chance to stop, think and observe. I believe this is the greatest fortune.
AT: What do you do besides art?
NC: Not much actually; almost everything has to do with art. I could say tattoos and trying to live free.
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
NC: Being able to resist.
“He loves me, he doesn’t love me…She loves me, she doesn’t love me….it loves me, it doesn’t love me…”, Terracotta, iron rod, 2020 | Installation view of “SAM” at BITCORP for ART, Milan, 2020 | ph. by Luca Matarazzo.
Nicole Colombo (b. 1991) is an Italian visual artist currently living and working in Milan, Italy. "I create pieces that are characters or figures that draw inspiration from pre-existing myths and symbols but not completely specified. I’m fascinated by the fact that some moral or ethical needs typical of mankind have not changed over time and their translation into symbols or idol not far from their primordial representation. I use natural materials like wood, but also synthetic materials like resin and plexiglass, natural process and craft process compare with technological and industrial process bring back this fetishes to the present, or if we prefer in the contemporary".