It is a busy time for Brooklyn-based Italian artist Angelica Bergamini – she is preparing for her second solo show “Whispers” at the Ivy Brown Gallery. The exhibition that opens on May 8th will present 3 new series of her work.
Fons et origo, which in Latin means Source and Origin, includes 8 wall-sculptures. These circular shapes sprout long roots in delicate hand-cut formations. Some of the roots have tiny metal-wire structures attached in the back that allow for a firmer shape. Angelica starts by taking pictures of her own paintings (ink and acrylic on photo paper), then digitally adjusts and layers colors, and prints the final images using archival pigment and different types of photographic paper to create desired optical effect. Sometimes she reprints the same image in layers several times to get a very saturated color (like in Fons et origo #3 (below)).
In the past, Angelica worked with the idea of roots in her Memento series (2009), where she made prints from collaged objects, including photographs of her family, assembled on top of her paintings. “Being an immigrant, it was important for me to find a connection with my land. Wherever I am, my roots are with me.“ In the Fons et origo, she is now expanding the concept of roots, from individual to human. These works were conceived during the tumultuous time of last presidential elections and today the message is even more urgent because in the country so divided on many topics, we are no longer a solid nation that stands united. Angelica’s Cosmic Roots bring us to the elemental truth – we all have the same origin and the same destination; and there there is no division. Our lifetime is a “cosmic blink,” as the artist puts it. With her work she exhorts us to look, through the lens of our ephemeral existence, at our present actions, take responsibility for our choices and their consequences.
She sang the universe into existence series comprises 13 prints on cotton, bamboo and Japanese paper. It is a combination of collage and archival pigment print. The artist continues to “contemplate on the origins of being which connect us across borders, cultures, ethnicities, and religions.” Whereas Abrahamic religions purport that there was the Word that started us all, Angelica’s Universe started with a song full of tenderness and love of The Divine Feminine. The recurring circular shape is symbolic of the divine. The eyes come from the photographs of young girls that the artist has been taking since 2014 during her travels and with no particular project in mind. But everything has its time. “The idea is to bring the ancient with the element of innocence. This energy of the cosmic presence surrounds and observes us. We are not just on alive planet. We are in alive Cosmos. Everything moves, everything is in constant flow. Again it gives me a sense of something bigger and I try to reconnect myself to the flow of existence as it is happening.”
The last series in the show is Whispers from the Cosmos. In these 11 artworks, Angelica combines creative method of Fons et origo with visual elements present in She sang the universe into existence as if to reiterate the themes of self-reflection and unity. “This series is printed on metallic glossy paper because I really wanted to give the feeling of cosmic placenta and primordial waters of creation.”
Angelica has been working with paper for a long time and incorporates different types of this material into her work to achieve specific visual effects. In some pieces, she collages papers before printing to create a unique surface. In She sang the universe into existence series, she applied wax to the paper. For the Freedom series, complex leafy assemblages that look like miniature gardens, Angelica used both cotton rag and glossy paper, always archival. “When the light hits the glossy ones it gets reflected like it happens when you are in the woods. I took pictures of the leaves in Upstate New York and then I worked digitally on my images, printed and cut them out to reassemble the foliage again on my circular shape. The figure in the center is me from a photo of myself in the studio. She is made using different types of archival photo paper (for her skin, for the dress and hair).” One of the sculptures from this series, Come As You Are, was commissioned by Hyatt Union Square in 2012.
Even though she was trained as a painter at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, her artistic practice presents a very diverse output. Earlier in her carrier, Angelica created sculptures from metal wire and monofilament: stones, fogs, and clouds. “All these natural occurrences in my work were important for their symbolism.” During that period, she also created jewelry. One of her brooches, Unconventional Flowers, part of a wearable art project curated by Anna Cecilia Russo, was produced in bronze and silver by Galleria Ori e Fiori in Milan. Later, in New York, the New Museum sold her bracelet pieces, inspired by her monofilament sculptures, in their gift shop. In the recent years, Angelica has been doing short videos, animating her paintings in collaboration with sound artist Erin Arthur and sound designer Gillian Arthur. Below you will find two links to my personal favorites: “Will you fight or Will you dance” and “Untitled (a glimpse of the unconscious)”
Her spiritual practice (Angelica is a long time practitioner of Yoga, Reiki and Aura-Soma color therapy) assists the artist in connecting to her creative source. Her reading often serves as inspiration (besides Art books, her library includes Jiddu Krishnamurti, Carl Jung, Riane Eisler, Marija Gimbutas, and Joseph Campbell, to name a few). Quotes used in the artworks, poetic verses and many of her titles come from the books and help the artist translate the artwork into language. “I look for poetry in visual arts too, a poetic experience. Something that I want to give is that kind of space for the viewer, where there is movement from me to you, and back and forth; we finish the work together. I know where my work starts, more or less. I don’t know where it ends. We give it shape together with your own experience. It is like I plant a seed and then it is out of my hands.”
Angelica’s work reflects her continuing personal spiritual journey, but carries universal meaning. “All the works I do are way to celebrate life. A person is sacred. Nature is sacred. It is our duty to respect life – whatever shape or form it takes. I see my work as the condensation of all these ideas. I feel responsible for what I put out in the world, for honesty and sincerity with which I do it, and the effect of that.”
Freedom (2012) VIDEO
Will you fight or Will you dance (2012) VIDEO
Untitled (a glimpse of the unconscious) (2016) VIDEO