Caterina Silva


“Lately my canvases go through all sort of experiences. From destruction to resurrection, from being let outside under the snow to being washed at 60°. The painting is finished when the canvas is exhausted and asks me to abandon the cycle of rebirth”

AT: Where are you from and how/why you start engaging to art?

CS: I was born in Rome. I used to read and write a lot when I was a kid. I’ve started to draw when I was 15 as an alternative to writing. Something had happened and I wasn’t able to write anymore. Then my art practice evolved but it still relates to the idea of building alternative alphabets and escaping language.


AT: When did it become serious?

CS: Probably in 2008. After many years of traveling with independent performance projects, I settled in Rome and rented an amazing bright studio where I spent 3 full years, deepening my painting practice. Yet what I was doing before has been fundamental and still resonates. I still engage in performance projects today.


AT: Is there any person that has been significant in your progression as an artist?

CS: There are many. Above all, the big heart and the political engagement of my mother have been pivotal. She used to love art and artists deeply, myself included. For her, art, life and struggle for freedom were completely intertwined and I inherited this approach.


AT: What’s your first approach to the work? Could you describe your

CS: When the canvas is blank on the floor, I pay a lot of attention to what is happening in the studio. The rhythm of my breathing, some dust on the floor or the shape of a dirty towel can become the starting point. The first actions that I perform are not painting gestures rather they are attempts at mapping my present time and space. I try to exercise the minimum power on the image that starts to emerge. Then many things happen. The self comes back and is pushed away many times. My practice looks like a play between the process that wants to expand and the self that wants to master an image.

Exhibition view at Bosse & Baum, London

AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?

CS: I love cheap materials and inappropriate tools. I like to mix fine art pigments and colors with elements coming from my close surroundings. They can be dust, coffee, turmeric powder, chocolate and cosmetics as well as snow, salt-water, fire, sugar or soil. It’s a way of mapping the present which I happen to inhabit and of blending the distinction between art and life.


AT: Do you leave your work open to interpretation? Or do you think the viewer should engage with your work in a specific way?

CS: I try to grant the viewer the same freedom that I experience while painting. I see my artistic practice as a struggle with language and its classification systems, a way to probe the opaque parts of the mind, that which cannot be explained in words. My paintings are open to the observer’s interpretation. They are consequences of a process of deconstruction of my internal superstructures, developed through the matter of painting and its translation into performances.


AT: How do you feel while you are working? You think of the final result?

CS: There is no correspondence between how I feel while painting and the final result. My paintings are emotionally charged but they are never literal translations of a conscious psychic condition. I experiment a lot with my mind in relation to my hand and to my body, both in the studio and outside. I am interested in the links between power, gesture and mental structures. I’m concerned about how the interruption of a movement is absorbed by the context and how the whole environment responds back to it. I think it is about testing the limits of language. Like hammering in multiple directions at the same time.


AT: How do you understand when a work is finished?

CS: Lately my canvases go through all sort of experiences. From destruction, to resurrection, from being let outside under the snow to being washed at 60°. The painting is finished when the canvas is exhausted and asks me to abandon the cycle of rebirth.

8_Caterina Silva_Self-Portrait of a landscape 3, 2018, oil, tempera, acrylic, oil pastel, charchoal, pigment, chinese ink, turmeric, dust and snow on canvas, 140x200
Self-Portrait of a landscape 3, 2018, oil, tempera, acrylic, oil pastel, charchoal, pigment, chinese ink, turmeric, dust and snow on canvas, 140×200 cm
3_Caterina Silva_2016-ongoing_15 Kg (2,5Kg-Mia), acrylic, oil, fire, dust and spray paint on canvas, 140x200cm
Ongoing 15 Kg (2,5Kg-Mia), acrylic, oil, fire, dust and spray paint on canvas, 140x200cm

AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from? Do you find inspiration outside or it’s all inside you?

CS: I became aware of the fact that inspiration comes from everywhere. The space of the studio and the “landscape” in which the studio is inscribed are the things that affect me the most. From the bricks of the walls to the political situation of the country I am living in, to the noises outside. These are the things that I know and partially control. What is happening inside me often remains unknown and undisclosed. I try to align on the same pictorial plane the external space with my internal one.


AT: Do you think art can be learned or it is something innate?

CS: I think it depends but the need to make art is innate. You can learn where to find courage and strength and how to refine the tools of your struggle. You can also learn a lot from artist friends about how to manage life.


AT: There are any artists that influenced your works? Why?

CS: Since I was young I have spent time with older artists and it’s only in the last years that I know how to prevent them from influencing me (if I don’t want to). I like this sentence by John Cage: “When you start working, everybody is in your studio- the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas- all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you are lucky, even you leave.”


AT: How important is for you the role of social media?

CS: It depends for what purpose. I like Instagram.

1_Caterina Silva_2016-ongoing_15 Kg (2,5-Pierre), acrylic, oil, fire, dust and spray paint on canvas, 140x200cm
Ongoing 15 Kg (2,5-Pierre), acrylic, oil, fire, dust and spray paint on canvas, 140x200cm
10_Self Portrait of a landscape 4, 2018, oil, tempera, acrylic, oil pastel, charchoal, pigment, chinese ink, turmeric, dust and snow on canvas, 140x200
Self Portrait of a landscape 4, 2018, oil, acrylic, oil pastel, charchoal, pigment, chinese ink, turmeric, dust and snow on canvas, 140×200

AT: What’s your opinion about the contemporary art system nowadays from your point of view as an artist?

CS: I try to be aware of what’s happening outside and to get from the art-system what makes sense to me. It is not easy to work as an artist outside the system since most of the things made against it are suddenly co-opted and neutralized by the same structures that one wants to question. In general I try to be critical, where necessary, without spending too much time thinking about it.


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?

CS: I like the freedom and the discipline of being an artist. The control I can exercise over my choices and the time I can spend being alive and aware.


AT: What do you do outside of painting?

CS: Besides painting I do a lot of ashtanga yoga, karaoke, dancing, writing, editing, studying, biking and struggling.


AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?

CS: My goal for the next months is to find a cheap studio in London with natural light and to make great paintings.

Exhibition view at Bosse & Baum, London
Caterina Silva
Rome, 1983


2001-2002 Camberwell College of Arts, London

2003-2006 Scenography, Istituto Europeo di Design, Rome

2003-2005 Philosophy, La Sapienza, Rome


2019  Fondazione Spinola Banna, Poirino, Turin

2018  Arp Residency, Cape Town
2018  NKD, Dale, Norway

2016  ACC-Rijksakademie Dialogue and Exchange, Asia Culture Center, Gwangju

2014-2015 Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam
2012-2013 Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris


2018 Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale 

2015 Van Bijlevelt Foundation

2014 DE.MO./Movin’Up

2014 Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
2012-2013 Incontri Internazionali d’Arte

2001-2002 European Union

Solo show

2018  Impressioni, Bosse&Baum Gallery, London

2017  Amor Proprio, performance, project curated by C.L. Pisano, Centrale Montemartini, Rome

2016 Münster, Galleria Valentina Bonomo, Rome

2016 Senza Sistema, Bosse&Baum, London

2016  Sacrosanctum, curated by Adalberto Abbate, Oratorio di San Mercurio, Palermo

2016 Miart 16, Milan, w/Riccardo Crespi Gallery

​2015  tbc(august), Bosse&Baum, London

2015  Paolo, Marco, Ashok..., RijksOpen, Project Space South, Rijksakademie, Amsterdam

2015  Soggetto.Oggetto.Abietto, Riccardo Crespi Gallery, Milan

2014  Story of the City of Brass, RijksOpen, Rijksakademie, Amsterdam 

2014  Fear Eats the Soul, the Soul Eats Fear, Riccardo Crespi Gallery, Milan

2010  Subverting Dualities, curated by Aria Spinelli, VM21 Gallery, Rome
Group show | performance

2018_ Graffiare il presente, curated by Giuseppe Frangi and Daniele Capra, Casa Testori, Novate , Milan

2018_ Premio Francesco Fabbri VII, Francesco Fabbri Foundation, Pieve di Soligo, Treviso

2018_ Festa Franca curated by Adelaide Cioni, Fabio Giorgi Alberti and Marta Silvi, Franca, Cannara

2018_ La superficie accidentata curated by Gino D'Ugo, Fourteen ArTellaro, Tellaro (SP)

2018_ Combat Prize, winner of painting section, Museo Giovanni Fattori, Livorno

2018_ Storm II, performance in collaboration w/ Andrea Koch,  satellite event of Block Universe festival, Bosse&Baum, London

2018_ Storm I, performance in collaboration w/ Clover Peake, Bosse&Baum, London

2018_ Tunnel, Passetto del Biscione, Rome

2018_ Finite/Infinite, curated by Emma Van de Merwe, Everard Read-Circa, Cape Town (duo)

2018_ Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2018 , curated by Alessandra Atti Di Sarro, ARP_Cultural Platform section, Cape Town

2018_ Cold-Cold/ Rain-Rain/ Fsch-Fsch /Tic-Tic, performance in collaboration with Ruth Prowse School of Art, Fairview Park, Cape Town
2018_De Lachende Cavalier, curated by Abstracte,Wijnstraat 119, Dordrecht

2017_Deposito d'arte italiana presente, curated by Ilaria Bonacossa and Vittoria Martini, Artissima, Turin

2017_Herstories, curated by Juliette Desorgues, Protein Studios, London

2017_The Best of the Best, Temple Gallery of Art, Rome

2017_You see me like a ufo, curated by Marcelle Joseph, Ascot

2017_ssol/ap-Amsterdam, performance, The Family Gym, Rozenstraat-a rose is a rose is a rose, Project Space South-Rijkskademie, Vijzelvintage, Amsterdam

2017_ssol/ap, performance, Galleria Valentina Bonomo, Rome

2016_A.P., performance, ACC, Gwangju

2016_Anthropocene, Riccardo Crespi, Milan

2016_Secret Society of Lovers, performance, Bosse&Baum, London

2016_15Kg, Start Art fair, w/Bosse&Baum at Saatchi Gallery, London

2016_Sacrosantum, curated by Adalberto Abbate, Oratorio di San Mercurio, Palermo

2016  Jolly Joker with Maria Barnas, curated by L. Reitmeier, C. Biocca, B. Hipp, Amsterdam

2015_Painting Now, Riccardo Crespi Gallery, Milan 

2015_16° Premio Cairo, Palazzo della Permanente, Milan

2015_Art 15, with Bosse and Baum, Olympia, London 

2015_Dynamo art factory, Pistoia

2015_The reconfigured painting, curated by R. Gavarro, Canal 05 Gallery, Brussels

2014_Premio Francesco Fabbri, Villa Brandolini, Pieve di Soligo, Treviso

2013_Room 8111, Cité des Arts, Paris

2013_She views herself, curated by Doris Kloster, Air France, Paris

2012_Giorni Felici, invited by Enzo Cucchi, Casa Testori, Novate-Milan

2012_Nero su bianco, project for Eni, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome

2012_Vetrinale, w/G. Pontrelli, Festival of Relational and Performative Arts, curated by C. Casorati, Rome

2012_Premio Roma Centro Storico, curated by C. Casorati, Monte della pietà, Rome

2012_Reality Show, curated by S. Di Giugno, Tiziana Di Caro Gallery, Salerno

2012_Portonaccio, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, Ex Magazzini di Via Arimondi, Rome

2012_Tutto, 26cc space for contemporary art, Rome

2012_Come una bestia feroce/No beast so fierce, curated by Federico Mazzonelli, Bonelli Lab, Canneto sull’Oglio, Mantova

2011_Non è facile/It is not easy, curated by C.L. Pisano, Palazzo Incontro, Rome

2011_Brooklyn Boudoir, 400S2nd, NYC

2011_Via Arimondi, Gallery of Art-Temple University, Rome

2010_Impresa Pittura, curated by C. Pisano&R. Gavarro, C. I. A.C. Museum, Genazzano, Rome

2008_Poetiche della precarietà, curated by Francesca Alfano Miglietti, Future Net Group, Milan

2008_Scanning: Body-Project, Studio Soligo, Rome

2008_The wedding über hosted for Black & Yellow, with H.Hedinge, Almhult, Sweden

2007_Uh! with Kinkaleri, Palazzo Re Enzo, Netmage Festival, Bologna

2007_Viaggio in tempo reale, Roma Poesia ‘07, invited by S. Carella, Teatro Colosseo/Fondazione Baruchello, Rome

2007_CoLab 07, Teatro Colosseo (Rome), Massma (Ronneby), Espacio 01 (Bogotà)

2007_Meninas Project, Pune, India

2007_Human Solo Show, ESC Atelier Occupato, Rome


2018_ Tunnel, Passetto del Biscione, Rome

2011-2013_Untitled (the punk sister of Agnes Martin) Project with Cristina Rizzo + Artist book

2012_ It: 10 Copies of Au Bal by Berthe Morisot by 10 artists, Private Flat, Paris

2011_I am not there and don’t live here anymore, Ex Magazzini di Via Arimondi, Rome