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Ines Michelotto is a multidisciplinary artist from Italy, currently living and working in London. Her artistic pursuits encompass a diverse range of artistic endeavours, spanning from crafting costumes for theatre and film to the intricacies of drawing and her primary medium, painting. Ines dedicates significant attention to her experiences as a transgender woman, a central theme that resonates throughout her work. Ines took the time to chat with our curator, Will Ferreira Dyke.
Hi Ines, thank you for taking the time to discuss your artwork with me. We are very excited to exhibit three of your beautiful paintings in Edged. To start off with, how did you come to art?
Art and drawing have always been a part of my life. No one in my family is involved in the arts, but surprisingly my dad has a hidden drawing talent that he passed down to me. When I was younger, we used to draw a lot together. My interest in sketching persisted throughout my childhood, so I went to a Liceo artistico in my hometown, Padova – this a type of secondary school in Italy especially devoted to the study of art. It was there that I had more formal training in sculpture, life drawing, and Art History. Later, I decided to specialise in architecture, but my interest remained rooted in the more visual aspect of this practice. In London, I chose to study Costume Design for Theatre and Screen at UAL Wimbledon College of Arts.
It seems from its very genesis that your work was super interdisciplinary. How would describe your style?
My artistic style has recently undergone a shift. I used to approach painting more casually, but now I'm putting conscious effort and thought into what I create to further refine my style. However, of course it is ever-changing. Growing up in cities like Padova and Venice introduced me to more classical, traditional art. Moving to London broadened my horizons and introduced me to a community of skilled artists, influencing not only my artistic approach but also shaping me as an individual.
The power of London! How do you approach your subject matter, are there themes you go back to?
Femininity and womanhood overall have always been central to my work. This interest comes from my admiration for beautiful feminine bodies and energies. As a trans woman, I've found a strong connection with the feminine energy in me - it is something I've always aspired to capture. In London especially, I was able to surround myself with super inspiring individuals, talented, beautiful and creative, and enrich my life … Recently they have been becoming some of my subjects.
One of my favourite works in the show is your self-portrait, do you like painting self-portraits?
My features have always been my main source of inspiration. Earlier on in my practice, each subject possessed something of me in them, which came naturally, as my traits were the traits I was most used to. Now, I'm more comfortable depicting myself. My image and how I present myself have always been central in my life, and it’s important to document it in my art. My transition was a long process, an ongoing journey of thoughts and acceptance.
Edged is ‘An Ode to Mapplethorpe’, and your work reminds me of his early photographs of his contemporaries in the Chelsea. How do you think you take inspiration from the artists?
I came across Mapplethorpe's work through his iconic images of Candy Darling - one of my trans icons - and through learning about his relationship with Patti Smith. The intimate process of portraiture and subject selection in his work touched me deeply, despite the equally intense pornographic themes - I think he manages to translate these in a delicate manner. Mapplethorpe’s works possess the kind of sensibility I want to convey in the eyes of my subjects. Subjects that simultaneously have this compelling softness and incredible strength.
I also find inspiration in other figures working in New York during that period. Seeing how queer individuals in the seventies and eighties lived I find exceptionally liberating, such as the likes of Peter Hujar and even Alice Neel. Their stories create a strong influence on my art, and also on the way I want to live.
Going forward where else would you like to push your work; is there any media you’re excited to explore?
With my background in costume design and fabric manipulation, I want to integrate these disciplines more into my practice – using costumes and fabrics as experimental surfaces for my work.
Finally, in a hypothetical situation, if you could exhibit anywhere, no budget, no restraints, what would you show?
I've always been drawn to large-scale pieces, believing they have a unique impact. If I had more resources, I'd definitely expand the size of my work without any budget or space limitations.
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