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Once upon a time, there was a painting

"I paint whenever I feel the urge to tell something. This is why I neet to travel often to see places and meet cultures." Vanessa Romagna

Vanessa Romagna is an Italian in-between woman (and artist).

Geographically, she keeps moving between Florence in Tuscany, where she lives, and Foligno in Umbria, where she was born.

Professionally, she has got several interchangeable skills: she is an engineer, an architect, a teacher, an artist and painter.

On top of that, in her everyday life she keeps choosing between different types of coffee: “it’s either an espresso, or a cold macchiato, or a Moroccan coffee, depending on the time of the day”, she tells me.

Yet, one thing is for sure: “every morning must begin with coffee”, she admits. Or better, “every moment is good for coffee“, for Vanessa.

Vanessa Romagna

And as every moment is good for coffee, every moment is good for painting, too.

Vanessa has been drawing since she was a child. When she was just 10 years old, she took part at the Pictorial Exhibitions organized after the Earthquakes of 1997 in the Menotre Valley in Umbria.

Vanessa takes me into her memories: “drawing, in its various forms and techniques, has always been my thing. Something that came natural to me, day after day”. When she was 8, at Christmas she received a box of oil colors: “I still use it!”, she smiles at me.

But she also loves technical design, freehand drawing, ink, water and watercolor paiting, as well as multi-material painting. “I’m also into architectural design”, she adds, “but I let painting have its own space”.

In fact, Vanessa tries to paint daily, even for just a couple of hours. And with success: in 2002 and 2005 she received the Young Prize in Visual Art Competitions organized by “Il Corimbo” in Perugia. She and Marco Paffi won the First Prize for the restyling of the Bank BBC Headquarters in Mantignana, near Perugia, with the project “Butterfly Effect”. In 2019 her work, “Multicultural dialogue”, designed with Andrea Fiorucci, Michele  Menichetti and Rofoldo Ricci, was published in the review Architecture and Nature 2018. In 2018 she was selected by reknown art critic Vittorio Sgarbi to take part in his Art Exhibition in Cervia, near Ravenna, and in April 2020 she was selected by the New York Art Gallery in the online contest “Inspiration from isolation”.

Today, Vanessa prefers oil paiting on tables and canvas. She likes experimenting a kind of combined art, using recycled materials: “I typically use stucco, sand, leaves, wood, depending on the topic and what I have at hand”, which allows her to express herself with a multipicity of codes.

Her style has changed throughout time: “I started with realist paiting, but today I am closer to abstract art, where colors are crucial. I have been using some pigments for 15 years now, which I keep scrupously, as they allow for more vivid nuances”, she explains.

Whenever Vanessa paints, she has a precise goal: “not to depict a certain landscape, but to ‘tell’, narrate a certain impression I got when I was looking at a certain landscape or an object within a natural environment”.

As a consequence, her paintings seek to convey something to those who watch them: “my hope is that each of us can find, in my painting, a familiar enovironment, some memory, an emotion”. Her art is a sort of “storypainting” – using painting to reveal the elements, images and emotions of a story.

And this notion of storypaiting, Vanessa is ready to take it “abroad” (together with her paintings, which are on sale): her next plan, is offering “storypainting workshops” in the United States. Workshops where people can learn how to narrate through painting and Vanessa’s personal and original method. If you know of any U.S. institution or college that would be available to host her workshops, feel free to contact Vanessa – she  is open to opportunities.

Vanessa’s life is a sort of river running through colors and materials – which shape her art. And in fact, her favourite word (and concept, in life) is “water”.

One of her mentors in life is Gunji Koizumi, a Japanese master of judo (if you are wondering, Vanessa does judo, too!).

She shares with us a quote by Koizumi (translation ours) as a final gift:

Water runs to get to a balanced level. It has no shape of its own, but it takes on the one of what contains it. You cannot control it, it penetrates everywhere. It is permanent and eternal like space and time. Invisible, when in the state of steam, yet so strong as to be able to break the Earth’s crust. When in the solid state of glaciers, it is as hard as rocks. Its services and benefits are endless.

Have a look at Vanessa Romagna’s art here, and feel free to contact her:

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