The art world is quite a lonely world. Interview with Silvia Granata and Livia Marasso by Waldemar Kerschbaumer.

Interview  /  Artists   BehindTheScenes
Published: 31.01.2024
Waldemar Kerschbaumer
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Silvia Granata and Livia Marasso.
Silvia Granata and Livia Marasso

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The Italiano Plurale art collective presents a strong, complete, and diverse image of Italy’s art scene with a veritable mosaic of fresh talent and passionate ambassadors of applied art. Curator Waldemar Kerschbaumer carefully selects artists whose work not only meets the highest standards but also provides refreshing insights into Italy’s contemporary art production.

We introduce the members of the group with a series of interviews.
What led you to use porcelain as the basic material for your artworks?

Silvia Granata: I chose porcelain as I was looking for a material that would allow the three-dimensionality of my works to emerge without interfering with them. I use porcelain as a painter would use a blank canvas. It is a discreet material that does not stand out over the composition and leaves space to the form.
Livia Marasso: Porcelain was love at first sight or rather at first touch; I was immediately attracted to this extremely smooth, silky and unique material for its transparency. I started my ceramist career doing a lot of research on light through materials and porcelain was the perfect material for my purpose.

Silvia Granata: Sculpture from Ants Marching Series. Porcelain and recycled antique cabinet.

Livia Marasso: The Time. Porcelain.

Your art is constantly evolving. Which technique do you currently favour?

Silvia Granata: My works are handmade and are the result of various techniques. The base of these works is most often made from a slab. Whether it is a geometric shape, a bowl or a more abstract form, I often leave a little room for chance: I use the porcelain slab as if it were fabric, helping it to take a shape without guiding it completely. On this base I then create my compositions made of coils cut into many tiny elements.

Livia Marasso: I love to define the technique I use as a dismantled coiling: I reduce the porcelain into thin threads and then reassemble them in different ways to compose a shape. I often combine the thread technique with the slab technique, slipcasting, wheel, free modeling; my works are always the result of a set of steps that are often very different from each other.

Which piece are you particularly proud of?

Silvia Granata: The last piece I made.

Livia Marasso: It's difficult to say but I think that Nothing to declare was the sculpture that most emotionally involved me; it was created during the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, and was inspired by an old typewriter that belonged to my father; a precious object that I reworked in my own way, entrusting it with a message of peace that seemed to me to be the only one possible at that moment. It is part of a series of sculptures entitled Common things that reproduce with my style everyday’s objects through a new interpretation, a new artistic message.

Silvia Granata: Talk of love #3 from Ants Marching Series. Porcelain and recycled antique wood frame.

Livia Marasso: Nothing to Declare, 2023. Porcelain

Where does your inspiration come from?

Silvia Granata: My works are always very personal and tell about life and relationships. At present I am working on the fading of memories and the fragility deriving from that.
Livia Marasso: The technique I use originates from my love for fabrics and threads; I love to treat porcelain like a fabric, reducing it into thin threads to be intertwined and superimposed, creating sculptures and objects with fluid and moving shapes.
The surrounding world is my source of inspiration; some collections are inspired by nature and its bizarre expressions. Others are a clear tribute to our everyday life, in which the intertwining of porcelain gives shape to a teapot or becomes the structure of an old telephone but also a symbol of memories and infinite connections that are born, die, come back, wrap around themselves, becoming the warp of human relationships that often do not follow a straight line. Nothing is static: porcelain becomes thread, thread becomes object or fabric, fabric sometimes becomes light; each work is the product of the union between the gaze, the material and the heat of the kiln in which it take shape.

Silvia Granata: Working process

Livia Marasso: Working process.

How do your clients perceive your work? Do you have in mind who or how it will be used?

Silvia Granata: I am often amazed at how people see my work. I like it when they see exactly what I wanted to tell them, but also when they see something different and feel emotions that are not the same as the ones I wanted to convey. I am happy that they can be interpreted in a completely personal way by those who look at them or choose them.
Livia Marasso: Usually, people who see my work for the first time are surprised by how I use porcelain; many cannot understand what material they are made of; many of my sculptures bring back memories of a past world and they fall in love with it.
The Home Decor collections also include everyday objects (vases and cachepots) whose soft and flowing shapes are appreciated.

How do you feel about having to put a price tag on your creations?

Silvia Granata: It was difficult in the beginning and became easier with time. Experience also teaches how to price a work. I think it was crucial to find the right market to sell my art at a fair price.
Livia Marasso: For some sculptures, it is really difficult to give a material value as they are unrepeatable pieces both in form and in message, but if you want to make a living from your art, it is important to be able to do so by finding the right balance between emotionality and objectivity.

Do you have an underlying concept that you express in articles, books, galleries, museums, etc.? What do you think of contemporary Italian ceramic art?

Silvia Granata: The aim of my works is to represent a community and the relationship between its components: the distance or intimacy between people, the balance between the whole of humanity and the individual, the juxtaposition between the fragility of each entity against the solidity of the whole as in a human society.
This is portrayed through the repetition of a multiplicity of related elements. Thousands of segments are cut from porcelain coils and applied one next to the other in order to represent flows: a structured rhythm made of full and empty spaces, of concave and convex particles, of shades of colors.
Though all the elements look similar to each other, however, they are always different and unique almost amounting to a declaration of individuality.
I think that artistic ceramics in Italy still play a minor role in the Italian art scene. Many museums and institutions are making efforts to change this perception, but the road still seems quite long to me.
Livia Marasso: I believe that contemporary Italian ceramic does not have enough space and is not promoted and supported enough by institutions. There are some well-known realities, often linked to tradition and which work well, but not enough to promote and exhibit the many Italian artists who do research, often challenging tradition and distinguishing themselves for style and taste.

Silvia Granata: Group of Vessels Give me odorous at sunrise Series. Porcelain.

Livia Marasso: Baco #1. Porcelain.

When does porcelain become art?

Silvia Granata: It is not easy to answer this question, because the line between art and craft is often quite subtle. Perhaps I could say that when porcelain loses its function as an object of use it is moving towards art, although in saying this I do not want to generalize in any way. I believe that art also requires qualities that go beyond craftsmanship such as intentionality and a thought behind it.
Livia Marasso: When it goes beyond. From my point of view, any object becomes an object of art when it is not an end in itself but expresses a suggestion through research, savoir-faire and concept.

You are part of the Italiano Plurale artist collective, what made you join?

Silvia Granata: The art world is quite a lonely world. Being part of a collective is important as it works to create a network of support and sharing experiences.

Livia Marasso: I believe that a collective of artists is a great way to combine energies and exchange ideas and projects.

What is next on your calendar?

Silvia Granata: Since ceramics has become my full-time job, I have found myself getting more and more squeezed into my in-house workspace. After searching for a long time, I finally found a bigger studio that I am renovating, where I will move within a few months and where I can finally work on large-scale projects without space limitations.

Livia Marasso: I am carrying out projects for new Home Decor collections and new sculptures for a solo exhibition in the spring.

About the Interviewee

Silvia Granata is an Italian artist based in Emilia-Romagna. Born in Cesena, Italy in 1970. She decided to take up a career in economics because of her family business and graduated in Business Studies at Hull University, UK. As a self-taught person, she began to experiment with various artistic expressions until she got to ceramics in 2007. She deepened her knowledge of various techniques such as raku, smoke firing and porcelain in recent years.
Main Awards: 3rd Prize, IX Biennal Internacional de Ceramica, El Vendrell, Spain (2017); Honourable mention, Coffeebreak Museum, ceramic competition, Museo Gianetti, Saronno, Italy (2015); 1st Prize, Selezione Premio per la Pace, Fondazione Balestra, Longiano, Italy (2014); Honourable mention, XI Bienal Internacional de Ceramica de Aveiro, Portugal (2013); 1st Prize, La forma dell’Acqua, Ceramic competition, Museo di Villa Mirabello, Varese, Italy (2013).

Livia Marasso is an Italian based artist, graduated in Architecture at the Polytechnic of Turin. From 2005, she began to attend courses of in-depth study of ceramic processing techniques in Italy and France. In 2009 she opened her own studio in Turin, where she carries out her artistic activity. She exhibits in European and non-European exhibitions and competitions.

About the author

Waldemar Kerschbaumer is the Creative Director and founder of the advertising and web agency adpassion based in Bolzano, Italy. He spent 7 years working for a local weekly magazine and over 10 years in different advertising agencies before founding his own company. adpassion caters to a variety of different sectors, from business to education and museums, and private and business clients as well as artists.

Italiano plurale was born in 2018, when Waldemar Kerschbaumer was asked to select Italy’s best and most promising jewelry artists for the Vienna Jewelry Days. The big leap came after just a few months: The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s annual PMA Craft Show settled on Italy as their guest country for 2020 and Waldemar was asked to curate and select the best Italian artists from various art categories. His previous experience promoting artists and having their work shown at international events proved an invaluable asset in the early days of the project. Italian artists expressed the need for support, especially for a whole host of excellent yet underrated artisans.