Ilaria Margutti delves in the deepest parts of her subjects, especially female ones, starting from the outer surface of the bodies and leaving space for the fascination of the mysteries they hide.
To do this, she uses new and at the same time antique techniques. In her laboratory in Sansepolcro, Ilaria embroiders introspective portraits on canvasses; with thread, she designs unpredictable dramas which transform themselves in faces and bodies, behind which are hidden stories that are impossible to tell all the way…
By Claudia Belli – photo Molotovstudio
When did your artistic journey begin?
«I graduated in painting from the Accademia of Belle Arti in Florence, before I was a student at the Istituto d’Arte in Sansepolcro, attending a weaving and printing course. In 1996 I began to show paintings, then in 2008 I abandoned painting to dedicate myself completely to embroidery and thread. My real evolution came when I passed from painting on canvas to embroidered. Which has one possibility more: conquest of space, because thread can occupy it».
So: how did you arrive at a needle and thread?
«I always worked on existential themes, in which the body is often the leading character. Canvas for me is the metaphor of the skin which I began to mend: first the wounds, then the traces left by the experiences of life. I landed on embroidery abandoning painting because I felt that I needed to overtake it, to distance myself from its two-dimensionality which I perceived as a limit. The encounter with an embroiderer became my teacher allowed me to discover a fascination for thread».
What makes this technique so aligned with what is in your heart?
«Embroidering is a form of weaving with very ancient origins, it is a joining of disciplines born from the necessity of clothing oneself; at the same time, it is an activity associated with women. In the past, it was the way to get together, tell stories and pass along the traditions to their children. Much of female literature comes right from this type of aggregation which frequently allowed women secretly learn to read and write. For this I often represent women, but I’m not only referring to women’s problems; I believe that human problems exist, my research us about humans in general, to the relation with one’s self and with others».
You really do make a personal use of embroidery, as if it assumed particular meanings…
«It represents time and waiting. I like to think that I am taking care of a healing, I love the sound of the needle when it passes through the canvas and the thread which goes through it; watching the back of the fabric after it is finished and discover that it is telling me other things. It represents the energy that seeps through the constancy of the gesture in its repetitiveness. Embroidering makes you strong because it is a discipline which puts into play both your body and your mind: it is like a continuous performance, in which is it possible to put one’s own limits to the test».
You unite the life of artist with that of a teacher, is there a bond between these two aspects?
«For me they are two inseparable roles. Teaching Art History to youth, transmitting to them the thought of the artists and of the works, is a privilege that allows me to remain in connection with the art, continuing to increase my knowledge; at the same time, through my experience I try to give the students the possibility to live Art History more closely, not only as a subject to learn, but to understand and love, instilling the passion and necessity for studies».
2017 will be a year rich with commitments, what do you anticipate for yourself?
«I am preparing a collaboration with Nardi Art Gallery in Rome for a personal exhibition in November. For some years in Sansepolcro I have been working on a project ‘CasermArcheologica” together with other courageous youth from the Tiber Valley for the diffusion and the support of visual arts, which will start in July 2017. This project is the winner of the competition Culturability and has obtained financing from the Unipolis Foundation for its realization».