Interview with the Artist
- When did you first begin making art? What was your first medium?
Once upon a time in a faraway country called Italy there was a young couple[. T]hey were madly in love with each other, but even spending all their time together one day they realized that their life was not complete. Nights and days were passing by and they were still wondering what was keeping them away from happiness, then finally while observing the ocean in a foreign country they understood that their obsession for art was too strong to be a mere passion; in that splendid moment, destiny decided to turn them into artists.
This is how our story began 12 years ago, then art started growing up, [u]ncontrollable, together with our love. We were so scared by the idea of art that we were buying any kind of cardboards, brushes (that kind of brushes that are normally used to paint walls), and low quality colors in a small hardware store just to stay away from considering ourselves…apprentice artists. It took a while before we felt able to work on paper and canvas with acrylic colors and then, after one year, to use oil colors.
1a. How did your collaboration begin, and where does its name come from?
When we started this art journey, we realized that we didn’t know anything about ourselves and about the world, so we decided to [go] backpacking, going places we felt [were] instinctively interesting. Our journey lasted many years and in some way we explored our souls and we found our originality. Different cultures, unexpected situations and the freedom to observe ourselves and a world very distant from the one we were used to gave us the unique chance to develop our personality and skills and to allow our mind[s] to open to the unknown. We started taking seriously all the messages and intuitions coming from our dreams or from clear signs we caught in daytime. We were following a sort of energy guiding us even in difficult times. We were going with the flow having faith in destiny and that feeling was at the same time comforting and mind blowing; when we had the occasion to show our art in Los Angeles we decided it was time to find an Art Name and we thought, because faith in destiny had become our lifestyle, to make a tribute to Destiny. This is why we chose Delta N.A.: Delta, that in the Greek alphabet means “D” and [when capitalized] has a triangular shape, [it stands] for the initial of the word Destiny, [which] brought us together and kept and still keeps us safe on the path of art; “N” and “A” are the initials of our names: Neva and Alessandro.
Our collaboration [has] gradually grown, initially we were painting the same subject divided into two canvas[es]. For example, if we were painting a face, while I was drawing left side, my partner was painting the right side. Then we decided to go abstract, using colors together on the same canvas without any subject, [and] after a while we began drawing on the same support becoming every time more comfortable in changing and erasing each other[’s] signs, until we finally found our common language in which we share not only meanings but also a universe of visions that come to us in unison. It’s like watching the same show at the same time, even being in separate rooms or different time zone[s]!
2. Who were your early inspirations as artists? Who are your biggest inspirations today?
We visited so many museums and art exhibitions that our mind was full of art. We were fascinated by Modigliani, Monet and Renoir, Picasso and Matisse, Dalì and Miró, Fontana. Visiting Mexico and [the] U.S.A. had a great impact on our palette, because we could open our eyes on new, fresh and light hues. When we arrived in [the] U.S.A. we discovered the New York School with Pollok and Rothko and it was amazing; we felt the essence of color and the instinctive connection with something bigger, the universe was peeping in the artist’s expression, speaking directly to his soul. We have been oscillating between abstract and figurative expression as much as traveling between America and Europe, and at the end we discovered freedom in a fusion of abstract and figurative, allowing us to create deep visions without defined borders, where the linear idea of time collapses and dreams and reality coexist.
3. What draws you to the subjects you choose?
There is no choice, we don’t know what we are going to paint until we feel [it] is the moment to start drawing and the process of working [as[ two simultaneously help[s] us [open] our mind, so step by step more and more figures reveal themselves, more emotions hit us, colors take over and the creative process brings to light the sense of the artwork. We love to underline [that] the meaning of our artworks is always [only] partially clear even to us, and it’s evolving until [the] last minute.
4. What does the process of artmaking look like for you, from what you consider the “beginning” of a piece to what you consider the “finished” piece?
We believe that every artwork is a live thing: it grows in our hands and our responsibility is to reveal its nature. At the beginning there is a sort of chaos and we are required to untangle it and to reveal its harmony and meaning. We work an artwork for weeks, sometimes months; it is impossible to know when it will be finished until we feel it. We love refined and clean forms, so we seek technical perfection in every artwork but it isn’t an aesthetic perfection. We can say that we perceive an image of the artwork that is hidden to our rational eyes, we work to catch it and reveal it on canvas following our feelings and when the artwork reflects the inner picture, we know [it] is finished and we sign it. We never touch an artwork when it has already been signed; if we signed it’s because it’s complete and because our exploration has to move on [to] another artwork.
L’evanescenza del mattino
5. What is your favorite medium to work with, and why do you love it?
Oil paint is our favorite. We use only oil on canvas. We love it because of its deepness, it helps us [in] telling about all the hues of human feelings, even if many people believe that we are working with acrylic paint because our colors are very bright, while traditional oil paintings are often in very classic colors. An essential reason why we choose oil [paint] [is] because it dries slowly, so we can work for many days to create glazing and soft shades, we can feel the energy of colors and create a dialogue of hues without any fracture. When we work on paper instead [of canvas], we search for lightness and playfulness and so we use mixed media: pastels, watercolors and ink, 3D reliefs made with paper clay… Recently we like to mix lines made with ink (a technique that we learned when we had [a] studio in Chinatown, San Francisco) and pastels; it is like writing a short poem.
Sculpting is a different planet, we worked with many materials before creating our paper clay. We love the lightness of paper lamps and origami technique, so we started creating objects [out of] overlapping paper sheets. Then we used a store-bought paper clay, but it was too hard and difficult to shape so we finally create[d] our own handmade recipe clay that is soft enough to be modeled but at the same time hard and strong once dry. It’s a pleasure to handle because it smells good and it’s 100% natural.
6. What draws you to the “soft and enchanting colors” you choose?
We see the world with soft and enchanting hues. We love sunrise and sunset, when everything seems like a dream that you can’t fully “get” but it’s still part of your heart, when dream and reality hold each other[’s] hands in absolute peace. We cho[o]se to live dreams in daytime and each artwork is a surprising picture of our world in the middle between reality and dream–there is no fracture in dreamy eyes.
We spen[d] days and even weeks working all the hues of a single color to feel it, we often paint bare hand without brush to reach an instinctive connection with every color and to link each hue to a specific sensation, feeling and emotion. For instance for almost five years we never used yellow. We just used blue and many hues of red to create painting[s] focused on just two colors. We still don’t understand why in certain periods we were focusing on such a strict palette, but we were following our heart and that is the only way.
7. You are a collaborative duo, and you are also life partners. What does your artistic collaborative process look like? How is your work influenced by your personal relationship?
This is an interesting question. I think it could be seen as a dialogue, but it is closer to an archeological excavation: we are both digging to discover something we can recognize only once we find it. We strongly respect each other and [our] mutual contribution to the creative process and it’s essential to us to feel completely free to change and reinterpret every line or spot of color. This is the main focus of our collaboration.
Sogno nel Bosco
8. What has been your proudest moment so far for Delta N.A.?
Art always brings surprises! We work very hard and then suddenly recognition come[s] to us. We were in Indonesia, having a solo show in the Institute of Italian Culture of Jakarta, and at the opening reception a very nice guy asked us for an interview. He was unexpectedly smart and curious and it was a great interview. After the show we continued our trip, exploring Indonesian culture and cities and a couple of weeks later we found ourselves and one of our artwork[s] on the cover of the most important art magazine in Indonesia. Inside the magazine there was [that] interview [we gave] during the show. It was wonderful and totally unexpected! We remember that for a moment we told ourselves, “Hey, we are artists, we are on the cover of an art magazine!”
9. Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
[H]ere is a story. We were in Los Angeles and we were working so hard on a new series of artworks focused on flowers as an introspective reflection of human feelings, so not real flowers, but more abstract representations. After months of work, the series was completed. Terrified by people’s opinions on our art and by the horrible chance that someone could see our flowers as a simple image of nature’s beauty, we couldn’t find the courage to show our artworks to anybody. One night we had a powerful dream: a famous L.A. artist (RETNA) was in our bedroom and he was painting on the wall. When he finished, he looked at us and said, “Now it is time to see the truth. You did the best you could do and now you have to show it to the world and see the answer. This is what I do”.
It was amazing. We took it as a sign and we started walking L.A. searching for an art gallery to show our artworks. At the end of the third day of search[ing] we saw a beautiful and small gallery [in Beverly Hills], it looked quite new. We couldn’t figure out why we didn’t see it before, [but] we had a positive sensation and we thought: our search ends now.
The gallery was closed so we asked for an appointment by email. After a couple of weeks spent in complete disappointment and sadness, the gallery owner answered us and we got the appointment. Oh my god, we were so tense! The curator looked at the paintings and had a strong reaction saying, “Those are just flowers! I like abstracts, I saw some of your abstract paintings on the web, I’m only interested in that!” The atmosphere was getting more and more tense and the owner of the gallery was totally embarrassed, our worst nightmare was becoming real. After an endless pause we said to the curator, “We don’t do that kind of work anymore, we have grown up and believe us, these are not only flowers, they are different!” Luckily we piqued his curiosity and he decided to give us a chance and visit our studio to see with his [own] eyes our canvases. [The owner and the curator], they both came. [When] we showed them our old abstract paintings and then the flowers, they [were] enchanted and said, “It is true, they are different/” They chose three of them for the upcoming show and we sold the biggest one just a few minutes after the [doors opened]. We believed in what we did and our self-confidence brought us our first sale in an L.A. art gallery!
Tree of life
As a couple in art and life Delta N.A. work together on each artwork creating a shared language that speaks straight to the heart. Their emotional journey into soft and enchanting colors brings to life timeless dreams, unique key to everlasting harmony. Their art is present in many private and public collections and has been exhibited in solo and group shows all around Europe, USA and Asia. Website: www.dnartists.com Instagram: delta_na
© Variant Literature Inc 2021