Today we have the opportunity to share with you this beautiful Interview with Mirella Mibelli artist who passed away in 2015.
The interview is from 2004 taken from “Traces in the Water by Maria Dolores Picciau current Councillor for Culture at the City of Cagliari.
Interview with Mirella Mibelli
M.D.P. Yours is painting imbued with feeling and poetry, taking its cue from direct observation of reality…
M.M. I have spent a lot of time observing the sea, the rocks, basically the landscape of Sardinia. Observing from the boat or around the countryside always provoked great emotions in me, I always wondered why and came to the conclusion that basically I was trying to explain with flickers of light and vibrant lines the sensations that the world provoked in me.
What gripped and intrigued me was the fact that what I was observing were signs and color. During the first years of my career, I worked without knowing what I was doing, I was concerned about the correctness of technique, the balances of composition, the juxtaposition of colors, only later did I enter the “research channel” and then I realized that the work comes from your work and I think the person who said that basically the painter always paints the same picture is right.
M.D.P. You started very young. How did you approach art and what were the most important references for you in education and then in art?
M.M. Since my teenage years I was painting naive landscapes, portraits, still lifes, where the main purpose was to achieve some resemblance to the reality that I proposed to copy. Possessing no painting technique, the results were often very disappointing, although I almost never got the proportions, the perspective wrong. I really did not know what art was, its meaning, its purpose.
M.D.P. At one point you left Sardinia to study outside. Was that a difficult choice for a woman?
M.M. After attending the fifth gymnasium, since there was still no art institute or art high school in Sardinia in 1953, my father finally agreed to let me attend an art school in Rome. I then left for the Continent and attended the Zileri Art Institute.
You can imagine what it was like for a fifteen-year-old girl, eager for autonomy, for freedom, a little rebellious indeed a lot, to be able to choose her own studies and to do so in a city considered the heart of history, of culture, of cinema. I was happy and elated, all the more so because the school immediately turned out to be very different from what I had expected.
The institute, which, as I later learned, had been founded by a group of artists, including Toti Scialoja, in opposition to the state art high school, where the academic approach was prevalent, was a welcome surprise. It dealt with composition, strictly abstract, on the plane of balance, on the right position of color. Everything was new and intriguing to me, and I threw myself headlong into the work. The artists of reference were Paul Klee, Cézanne, Kokoschka, Burri, the Impressionists and contemporary art.
M.D.P. The meeting with Kokoschka in Austria. Do you remember it as a defining moment in your career?
M.M. When I returned to Sardinia, full of enthusiasm, I found a situation stopped at thirty years earlier, continued to work, and after a few years with other artists we founded Group 58. I heard about the “school of seeing” directed by Kokoschka, was admitted to attend and left for Salzburg. The school was located in the castle overlooking the city, a fantastic place. We students worked with professional models for about seven hours a day followed by assistants, there was a break for lunch, then we resumed work. In the middle of the morning the master would arrive, check each student’s work, talk to us, critique the work done. He spoke a strange language with me that was a mixture of Italian, English, Spanish and French, but we understood each other very well.
M.D.P. What did the Austrian master teach you?
M.M. He was a man, certainly handsome and charming, nice and full of charisma, and he taught me the importance of space through color. We used, all of us, watercolors because it was important to use a fast technique with the models changing positions after ten minutes of posing. I worked a lot, made a lot of interesting acquaintances, the school was attended by the children of many European artists, like Darius Milhaud’s son to name one; Daniel was his name and he was there with his wife and recently born son. There was also the grandson of the greatest dancer of all time, I think his name was Nijinski, others whose names I no longer remember.
M.D.P. Had anything changed in Sardinia in the meantime? Ouando you returned to the island and what did you find different?
M.M. Nothing, I participated in some group exhibitions with Group 58, then I got married and had two children whom I took care of exclusively until 1968.
I resumed teaching and painting trying to make up for lost time without stopping until some time ago, when the disease, multiple sclerosis that struck me in 1990, prevented me seven years later from using my right hand. So I can no longer paint.
M.D.P. You have long dabbled in watercolor, a genre that more than others has given you the opportunity to express those lyrical and emotional nuances intrinsic to your poetics…
M.M. I believe that watercolor is the technique that is most congenial to me, as I am a sensitive and impatient person. This technique does not allow for second thoughts and corrections, so the result is always something fresh, immediate, quick. Every time the outcome is an unexpected surprise, and I like challenges.
M.D.P. What other techniques do you favor?
M.M. In my almost forty-year career I have delved into many other techniques in which you need to reflect more such as oil, but above all I have been passionate about printmaking techniques: woodcut, intaglio (aquatint, etching), stone lithography, silkscreen printing, and other speri-mental techniques. It was very interesting to tackle this work, where my figuration was mediated by the materials (zinc, copper, wood, stone) on which one always has to work. The first print always offered incredible outcomes.
M.D.P. In Quartu you intervened with a large work on a city wall. How did you accomplish this impressive work?
M.M. I prepared a sketch that involved the use of materials that would withstand the weather over time, in my case terracotta and rusty iron, playing on a few color variations. I entrusted everything to a firm that under the artistic direction of two people I trusted made it.
M.D.P. Do you therefore believe in the social function of art?
M.M. I’ve been absolutely sure about it all along, art like culture helps its users live better as well.
M.D.P. How do you find the art environment in Sardinia?
M.M. If I exclude a few good artists, who doggedly go forward without giving up in their work, I find the environment uninspiring and discouraging.
M.D.P. What about the art market?
M.M. It is practically nonexistent, institutions buy little or nothing, exhibitions are now visited only by insiders, who normally do not buy.
I have sold enough in the past, even now that I cannot paint anymore.
M.D.P. Do you have any projects in the pipeline?
M.M. Because of my illness, I don’t paint anymore, so I have a hard time planning, making plans. I can only come up with something very different from painting, maybe one day not very far away I will find a possibility, I meanwhile try…
Interview with Mirella Mibelli by Maria Dolores Picciau
Below is the link to the website of the artist Mirella Mibelli – Painter (1937 – 2015)
At this link instead is the website of Maria Dolores Picciau https://mariadolorespicciau.it
You have just read the Interview with Mirella Mibelli by Maria Dolores Picciau, if you liked the article we also recommend the Interview with Antonio Mallus | ConnectivArt