Interview with Paola Bettello

Paola was born in Treviso where she lives and works. She has participated in several solo and group exhibitions in Treviso, Milan, Genoa and in October 2021 she will take part in the XIII Florence Biennale in Florence.

Francesca Della Ventura (FDV): Paola, your artistic research initially focused on matter and art to touch, using poor materials such as plaster, cement, pitch mixed with acrylics and pigments. How did you arrive at the almost zeroing of matter that you propose with your works today, such as those on display at inWomen.Gallery?

Paola Bettello (PB): I started more than twenty years ago to work on wooden bases with plaster and cement out of a personal need to work in a manual way, laboriously (I don’t know how else to define it). I needed to externalize in a physical, aggressive way, and it was not by chance that I was physically annihilated at the end of each work: during my exhibitions I explained that my works were to be touched so that they could transmit what I felt. I, therefore, felt the desire to be “lighter” and to express what I am in a more serene way. Hence the change. I use canvases (no longer the board) as support and colours (instead of matter) as a medium. Painting became joy, strength and energy. Feeling through colours. Among the compliments my works receive, one of the favourites is “… It transmits positive energy…” and this is what I want.

FDV: Many of your works are made with the particular technique of mixing acrylic and resin. If I’m not mistaken, the resin is a very difficult material to handle. Can you tell us about the process with which you create your works? Which of the works in the gallery was the most difficult to create?

PB: I work with resin because I love the transparency it offers. I have to say that I use it differently. Probably because of my material roots, I don’t like the polished shiny effect of classic use, so I mix it with acrylic or water sprays during the drying phase, which breaks up the “polished mirror” effect by playing with particular thicknesses. I use various processes to create my works: I tend to start from an idea of what I would like to achieve, sometimes I finish it and actually realise what I had planned, others, having reached a certain point in my work, I let the canvas speak. It speaks and I execute, even if it upsets my initial project. Still others, right from the start, I place myself in front of the blank canvas and ask “Who are you?”. For me this is FREEDOM.

Among the works in the Gallery, probably the most complex is “Il Bacio”, in which, in addition to having used both resin and acrylic in the composition, I have also used many colours and the difficulty lies in making everything harmonious through the right calibration, “an explosion” as a kiss should be, but harmonious and not disturbing. Among other things, an attentive eye will see in this painting some profiles that come close. In many of my works, new details can be seen on closer inspection. For example, even in “Lady Black – Woman with a Chignon”, also exhibited on inWomen.Gallery, if turned upside down it is … the tree of Life, because Woman is Life.

“Il Bacio”, acrylic and resin on canvas, 110cmx90cm, 2020, ©Paola Bettello
“Lady Black”, donna con lo chignon, acrylic on canvas,40cmx50cm, ©Paola Bettello

FDV: In 2021 you will participate in the 13th edition of the Florence Biennale. What does it mean for you to have reached this important milestone? Do you have any other projects in progress?

PB: Taking part in the 13th Florence Biennale is a dream come true for me and an important starting point. I have other dreams in my drawer and this prestigious event will be the key to unlocking them. Unfortunately, this long period of Covid 19 has blocked many of the initiatives and exhibitions I had planned. Patience, the important thing is to get out of this disaster soon. I am currently collaborating with a Sicilian wine cellar “Il Conte di Rocca Sicula” to create a label that will bear the image of one of my unpublished works. It will be a limited edition with a specially created blend. The work and the wine will have the same very evocative title… that’s all I can say.

FDV: One last customary question that I almost always ask so that readers have the opportunity to get to know new names of female artists. Which artists have most marked and influenced your artistic career?

PB: As far as artists who have influenced my artistic career… there’s only one great, immense one that I often find myself thinking about while I work, and that’s ALDA MERINI. Her story, her poems, her sentences are for me blows to the heart. There is a sentence of hers that reflects me a lot and that I quote in all my catalogues and with this sentence I would like to conclude. … Feeling is the verb of emotions, you lie down on the back of the world and feel …”

Francesca Della Ventura
Francesca Della Ventura

Francesca Della Ventura is a journalist, curator and contemporary art critic, as well as founder and director of inWomen.Gallery.