by E.G. Xie
Monet’s pleasant landscapes just don’t do it for me. Can I attribute this to some grotesque obsession with pain, suffering or sadness? Perhaps. then again, I am not alone. Many artists choose to dwell in this darker realm where, for some reason, the beauty is far more profound; just look at Michelangelo’s Pieta, Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, Picasso’s Guernica. At first glance, we shy away from these pieces; they are gruesome. Seeing them again, however, we lean in. The emotion in the sculpture, photo, and painting is familiar, and we reach out to touch the intangible. Beatriz Olivetti produces this kind of art.
“What is the fringe?” Beatriz, who holds a Masters in philosophy, asks. I am no student of phenomenology but, with a basic linguistic understanding of the word, I too wonder what can be found at that fringe and what happens when it is reached — particularly for an artist with such high sensitivity to suffering. Right now, her work depends on her mood, which she describes as sometimes “irritating” and sometimes ‘plantlike,” (neither of us quite knew what that meant), and the pieces consequently vary from controlled to emotional. She lives with a balance of philosophy and art, intellectual and emotional work, sadness and happiness. “Ultimately, life is great! Visit the horror, the abstract, then go back out… Open a beer!” she says. Despite this balance, however, Beatriz points to the nightmarish creature with jagged teeth as her favority piece. I recognize the renedered emotion: anxiety which, in this visual form, is as suffocating as the sentiment itself. Beatriz says she wants to achieve “a little less control; more honesty.” Her fringe is a realm relinquished to emotion, and she wants to travel even further into it like that comes out of me, and not like happy bunny,” she says and indeed the piece does not reflect the extroversion and warmth of the artist herself. It rests in the corner of the room and lurks on the edges of our subsconsious. “It has a place in the world,” Beatriz says and, if only in contrast to the usual establishment of beauty, it nonetheless holds the viewer’s gaze one second longer than lily pads.
I ask one last question, one that has often crossed my mind. What makes someone an artist? Beatriz Olivetti says, “The artist has to let the sensitivity be at the the surface…to be able to feel the pulse.” That’s it: the difference between an artist and a mathematician. The former chooses a dedication to emotion and the latter to facts. The lovers of freedom, of a world that “never has an end” choose art and often poverty. The others forgo that for x-equals-x and a beautiful suburban house, with five bathrooms. But who is truly happy? These pieces generate similiar reactions.